What happens when Elmo goes off his meds, er, batteries?

This absolutely must be seen to be believed. And I know it’s not exactly the freshest item I’ve posted here, but I just now came across it.

You know how some electronic devices tend to not work properly after replacing the batteries? Well, this is one example of a failure mode unexpected by anyone, let alone Melissa Bowman, the parent of a toddler who’s probably the biggest Elmo fan in the greater Tampa Bay area, or anyone in Fisher-Price’s PR department.

A WFLA news cilp posted to YouTube refers to a rather shocking and horrifying surprise Melissa got after replacing the batteries in an Elmo Knows Your Name doll. According to her, the Elmo toy decided to exhibit a homocidal streak and say “kill James” instead of “hello James” or whatever innocent greeting it’s supposed to give.

Others are insisting that’s not what the doll is saying. I’ve listened to the clip over and over again through a decent pair of headphones (I don’t have an adapter for the studio headphones I bought back in 1999 and I’m not sure what condition they are in), and it sounds rather unmistakable to me.

The most horrifying part, however, is summarized by this quote from Melissa about the conversation with a Fisher-Price customer relations representative: “Considering the fact that my son was repeating it has really upset me, and there is nothing that they are going–they didn’t even sound concerned about it, really, when I spoke to them.”

Later reports state that Fisher-Price finally did the right thing and gave the family a coupon for a replacement. But really, what could the representative that Melissa first talked to have been thinking, to not even show concern over this kind of a malfunction?

Let this be a lesson: If you program computers or tinker with electonics, especially if you are making something a kid’s toy like the Elmo Knows Your Name doll, test, test, and test again, especially for what happens after a battery replacement or similar power interruption.

And if you’re the one the customers talk to when it hits the fan, don’t forget to show concern. The parents that buy toys like this for their kids are the reason you have a job.