Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Quality or Nothing


I decided it was time to replace our coffee maker.  I actually like our coffee maker, but something had worn out over the years, and it was getting harder and harder to get the carafe into the machine.  THIS time, I was going to get a really GOOD machine.  Yes, I was ready to spring for the best!  Bring it on!

I went online and did a ton of research only to find that there was nothing out there worth buying (other than a $4,000 truck-sized monster that was intended for restaurants and was a bit impractical for my kitchen, seeing as how I’d probably have to get rid of the stove to accommodate it.)

I couldn’t believe it:  brands that used to have reputations for great products were now making machines that leaked, broke quickly, or even caught fire at an alarmingly high rate.  I decided to limp along with what we had, because apparently it was better than the new stuff being made.

Awhile later, the pitcher to our iced tea maker (same company as our coffee machine) broke, and it turned out to be $5 more for a whole new machine (with pitcher) than it was to just replace the pitcher.  The problem was, the new machine was terrible.  People reported all kinds of problems with leaking and bad design, and the consensus among people in my situation was to spend the money for just the replacement pitcher, which I did.

Something’s wrong here.  I, an American consumer (notorious for our prolific purchasing,) was ready to drop some money on new machines, and couldn’t find anything worth spending it on. Think about that. Costs (and subsequently quality) are being cut to the point where the product is not worth buying. How is that a sustainable business model?  How long before all of your customers get burned by the garbage you’re putting out, stop buying it, and you go out of business?

Frankly, we’ve seen the same thing in our field too.  It’s always a question of quality vs. cost.  The problem is that cost has an immediate effect whereas quality takes longer to discern.  If I tell you product “A” is half the price of product “B,” then the effect of saving money on “A” is immediate.  However, it’s going to take you awhile to find out that “A” is half as good as “B” and to figure out all its problems and inadequacies.  By then you’ll probably be ready to scream and throw it across the room.  (Ask my family how many times they’ve heard the phrase, “Who is the IDIOT who designed this?  Did they even USE their own product?”)

This cost-cutting, garbage-producing business model is one I’ll never understand, as it goes against everything I believe in.  Fortunately, I work for a company who agrees with me.  Good thing too, as otherwise it would be impractical for everyone in the office to have to get earplugs to block out my constant screaming.

-Dave Hab

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