Faulty Goods

Monday 10th January, 2005
Well, it's that time of year where we've all been given several gifts and, without a doubt, some of them will be defective in some way or just won't work at all in that "dead on arrival" (DOA) kinda way. But what do you do with the faulty products...send them back or just put them in the cupboard and forget about it?

For me, so far, I've found a fault on one of the discs in my Smallville series one box set. I've for to about Episode 15 or a 21 collection and I have a fault at the end of Disc 3 which affects that last 10mins of Episode 12. It starts by getting a bit blocky and jumping a little and then results in an 8minute jump from the closing action scene to the credits. If I wasn't able to read it sufficiently on a DVD-ROM drive in my computer I'd never have known what happened, my standard DVD player just refused to read the section of disc.

In many cases like this you have a faulty DVD or similar yet you also have no receipt or similar proof of purchase with which to return it. Without a receipt, most retailers will just turn you away. Thankfully, in this case, I bought the box set for myself with some Christmas money and so know the vendor and have the receipt. Even now though, it's unlikely to be returned. The hassle of getting an RMA, repackaging the discs with the receipt and then tripping down the post office to send it back to the online vendor makes it just so unlikely to happen.

Is it just me? Or are faulty good just too much hassle? Why are we happy to just live with faults. The slight crackle on a phoneline, skipping music cd's, faulty stitching or dyes on clothes, corked wine. Why, in a world where we're all happy to complain to family/friends/colleagues about problems with products are we more than happy to leave them lying around the house with no return to the vendor?

If you open a Mars bar and find the chocolate all smashed up from transit, is it worth the hassle of returning the defective goods? Of course not, life's too short. But at which point does something become worth a claim? Do vendors of products that cost less than £1 or $1 get away with having really low quality purely because people are never going to complain? If you reach in the cupboard and find a packet of crisps (chips for you yanks) is punctured breaking the air-tight seal and the contents are stale, what do you do? Send them back with a complaint? Or throw them in the trash and reach for another bag?

Let's face it we all whinge continually that Microsoft and other vendors ship buggy and badly produced products but how many of you have a domestic appliance with a broken knob or a remote control with the batteries held in place with tape. Even if this broke during the warranty period, did you complain?

Just off the top of my head, I have a TV set with a slight mark on the screen. Been there since day one of the 5year warranty period, but did I complain before it was over? No...it works. I have a computer monitor that whistles sometimes after power-up. It's under warranty, but have I fixed it...no...it works. I have a car with heated seats variable from 1-5. Do they work? Well yes, on 1-4 they're off but on 5 they're on maximum. Have I complained...no...it works.

In this blame culture we live in, I guess I have only myself to blame or is it because I know that trying to fix it will be even more hassle than the problem was to begin with.

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