Crap Quality

In a past life, I worked in Quality Assurance. Specifically, I was responsible for it in total; people, procedures, inspections, audits, whatever, it all landed on my desk. Because the business was involved in inspection, we didn’t operate the usual AQL or Acceptable Quality Limits. Unlike your average company that trumpets the aim of 100% perfect product (but has neither the ability nor budget to achieve it – but it sounds good in the company blurb), we HAD to deliver it correct reports to each client, or we were dead in the water. In reality, we neither aimed at 100% perfect output (it’s really not possible – look at the aviation and the Space Shuttle), nor claimed to achieve it, and that’s important. Aiming for a realistic goal, rather than an aspirational goal means your staff are working with reality, and not imagination. That’s important. You can work with REAL, tangible performance an results; you can only pretend if using imaginary aims and idealised results, which is why so many supposed “Quality System” fails to deliver. They’re too busy chasing rainbows and impossible aims, instead of dealing with reality.

So, what sparked this off?

Simply yet another purchase with yet another another Quality Assurance failure that shows the manufacturer’s may CLAIM and attach stickers attesting to the ‘quality’ of their systems and products, but they’re lying to themselves, and their customers. I reckon anything up to half their output is leaving the factory with some sort of non-compliance.

Two large, hand-held, rechargeable spotlights: one fine, the other with a broken on/off switch. By design, couldn’t have been broken in transit, so must have left the factory broken and without even being checked to see if it would turn on.

An exercise machine, delivered with two sets of protective covers for the left-hand side, so nothing for the right. Could I get a new cover please? No way – parcel the whole thing up, send it to the maker, and you can have a replacement. Yeh, right. Since the handing of the cover was determine by fixings inside it, I couldn’t see the problem, so it was the last part to go on, after I’d assembled the whole machine.

A hedge-trimmer attachment for a petrol-powered base unit. Delivered with no securing screw for the swivelling head, so it just flops about, so no-one bothered to look at this in the factory as this would have been very obvious.

Two ‘batteryless’ lanterns, powered by wind-up generators. Again, one is perfect, the other has been assembled with the wrong main drive gear (inside, each is of a different design, so they must assembled under contract at different factories) and generator can only be wound if the handle is held at a specific angle, otherwise it jams.

Even the supermarket joined one day, with a pack of six giant American pancakes only containing five. Fortunately, I DO count ’em, so I was able to take the unopened packet back for a new one, with six inside.

And there just seems to be a niggle with mist things, bad packaging, damaged items received, or stuff that just doesn’t work right as it arrives…

Two cameras bought at almost the same time (a sale) one being the GT version of the other (so the lesser was a spare, and it was needed). The GT camera was fine, apart from the fact that every few pics, it would just ‘freeze’ while metering certain scenes. Point elsewhere – fine; point at the scene – frozen, and in need of a reset. This cost be two trips back to the maker. Then the autofocus went wrong. In this case, I reckoned something had gone out of sync. It was in warranty, but I was fed up parcelling it up. Dismantling wasn’t a runner – I started, but the lens assembly was too deep. After re-assembling, it was still the same, but would occasionally focus correctly (manual focus was joke – lord knows why they bothered fitting it). I guessed it might have been contamination of a sensor or switch, so decided to try resetting the camera repeatedly. Surprise! After almost two weeks of daily reset periods, autofocus returned, and has stayed ever since.

It would be nice if stuff just worked.


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