[rescue] Slightly OT: Bad Cap Saga

Curious George jorge234q at yahoo.com
Sun Aug 17 17:22:07 CDT 2008


--- On Sun, 8/17/08, Geoffrey S. Mendelson <gsm at mendelson.com> wrote:

> Assuming that they have a working life of around 6 months, then there is
> little or no reason for the vendors to recall them.  Computer motherboards
> where they first appeared usually have a one year or greater warranty,
> so it's worth getting them out of production quickly, but things like
> DVD players, cheap MP3's, etc are sold with no warranty by the manufacturer,
> and a 90 day warranty by the importer/dealer.

Can we get terms straight?  Who's the "manufacturer" in your descriptions?
I see many manufacturers in a typical product -- most of the board
assemblies are manufactured by one of more *vendors*.  The mechanical
assembly may be done by yet another house.  It may then be rebranded
and sold to the "Manufacturer" from which the consumer buys (note that
a consumer need not be John Q Public).

At some point, "you" (whichever of these "manufacturers" you happen
to be!) have to have som efaith in the quality of "your" product.
Or, are you saying their are manufacturers who just slap things
together and never bother to see *if* they work??  :-/

I've seen PC power supplies (covered by the PC's warranty), motherboards,
LCD monitors, "flat screen" TV's, etc. all with the same sorts of problems.
Note that none of these are "disposable" consumer kit.  Most have
price tags high enough that the end user *will* be annoyed by "early
failures".  (e.g., the three LCD monitors I fixed today were from an
institution user -- if they are seeing large numbers of failures
you can bet that information gets back to the manufacturer... in none
too pleasing terms!)

> So there was no reason to stop selling what they had, or even fix the
> problem immeditely, in fact some manufacturers would gladly sell you a
> cheap DVD player today and another in 6 months. 

And I am sure they would gladly sell you a *PC* today and again
in 6 months!  Problem is, would *you* be willing to buy it *and*
accept the fact that the 6-month-old unit was just "worn out"?
> I remember someone I worked with telling me about a $1 toy that was part
> of a $10 set. The importer knew that they would fail after 3-6 months of
> use, so they sold them with a one year warranty and a $2.50 replacement 
> fee. 
> We had planned to sell the ill-fated "gizmo" with a one year
> no-questions-asked warranty. Just return enough of the unit that 
> we could recreate the serial number (for DRM'ed games) and $75 plus
> postage and we send you a replacement.
> It just so happened that $75 was the cost of a replacement
> unit. :-)

Sure, that's common practice!  It's still a losing proposition for
the "manufacturer" if "enough" units are returned.  (there are costs
involved in handling the return, complaint, etc. -- many of those
can't be contained... e.g., a lawsuit pops up and you suddenly
can't factor the cost of *that* into your $75 fee!  :> )

And, it depends a lot on who your customer is and what your
relationship with them happens to be.  For "consumer" (John Doe)
product, you can afford to screw the user as, for most companies,
you'll probably never do business with him, again.  Or, he won't
remember/know he's doing business with the company who previously
screwed him, etc.  (or, he may be naive enough to believe the
product was *supposed* to only last N months... )

OTOH, if you have long term relationships with your customer
(recall, customer may be a *company* -- even one that remarkets
your product or incorporates it into something of their own),
then you really want to make sure that relationship sours as
a result of them thinking they *were* screwed.  :<

<shrug>  In my market, it's easier just to Do The Right Thing and
not chase customers who follow the low-ballers around...

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