[rescue] Slightly OT: Bad Cap Saga

wa2egp at att.net wa2egp at att.net
Mon Aug 18 21:29:07 CDT 2008

> > 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??  :-/
> Exactly, the cost is too high. Some companies do it, for example
> Tandy did it with the original TRS-80 (and it may have been the
> last time too), and Ten-Tec still does it with their radios.

Tandy used to "burn in" their computers for 24 hours before they boxed them up.  That lasted until they got a new guy from IBM who dumped all of the non-PC machines.  A lot of their other products were all individually tested.  Of course I'm talking over twenty years ago.  Now, who knows.

> I see articles in Tele-Satelite magazine showing manufacturers in the
> far east who check their units, some every one. But that's a different
> market than the 10 UKP DVD players ASDA had for Christmas last year (or was
> it 2006?), 
> > 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!)
> Sure, what do they do? They complain to the board manufacturer who 
> might do something or not. Most likely they will give them a few
> extra boards for free, or promise not to do it in the next batch,
> or most likely, since they stopped making those boards a year ago or
> longer, just smile and say "sorry".
> > 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"?
> Some people do that. Often not in PC's, but in consumer electronics,
> all the time. Look at the public relations disaster Apple had when the
> first generation iPods failed after a year due to battery problems.
> Now how many people keep their iPods for a year? What about the cheap
> MP3 or "MP4" players that are everywhere? Does anyone care if they die
> in a year? It's cheaper to go to Wal-Mart and buy a new one with more
> memory, more features, etc and toss the old one.

I gave that same response when I bought a point-and-shoot digital camera this past weekend for $99 and was asked if I want to buy a service plan. 
> > 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 exactly what do people sue you for? It's hard to sue someone because
> a gaming device failed out of warranty. Look at all the threats Apple
> got after the iPod battery fiasco. How did they resolve it? You could
> return your iPod for battery replacement for $99. How much did that cost
> them? How much money did they make on each of those repairs?
> How many people did not bother and bought new iPods, or replaced the
> battery themselves, absolving Apple of all guilt.

You never got your iPod back.  They gave you some one else's "referbished" one and never transferred your music over.  Some techies could replace your battery for about $60 and you got yours back.  Which would you do?

> > 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... )
> Well, with cheap consumer goods, it's exactly that. 

For 99.9% of them.  Look at Vista.

> > 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...

Nice to know that still exists.


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