The Safety of Young Women
There were known flaws in the design of the Mechanical Companion, most noticeably in it's computing unit. The limited lifespan of the robot made it a danger to humans after about a year of use, and the Gimmick Girls' jobs frequently involved handling expired machines. The malfunction was referred to by the company as "automaton dementia."
However, in 1903 the threats to public safety became amplified. LaMechs began malfunctioning in large numbers, as many as 20 at a time. Automaton dementia appeared to have somehow gone viral, spreading from unit to unit. In the wake of these mass dementia events, seven deaths were recorded, each victim burrowed into by a swarm of relentless, tiny, red-eyed machines - machines that now seemed more likely to kill than to serve.
There were public calls to decommission the Gimmick Girls for the safety of the young women, but the company was in need of an even larger workforce to carry out the inevitable product recall, and hiring actually increased.
Literature disseminated by the Mad Hatters Club, a secretive group of Mech hackers, said these incidents showed that the tiny robots were achieving consciousness, and were unhappy with their state of servitude under their human masters. Still others claimed that the company had built this mode into the robots, and were secretly triggering it to eliminate unwanted business rivals.
High London Mechanical justified keeping the Gimmick Girls on the job because, of the seven killed, none of them were sales girls. This fact would, eventually, lead to the shocking truth behind the killings.