I think this quote is spot on: "consumers were either misinformed or they found it too hard to install"...or too hard to use.
Consider something as basic as the consumer who decides he wants a fancy new TV. He knows he wants to watch cable or satellite TV, and his DVD player or maybe he also bought a nice new Blu-ray player, and he also thinks it would be great if he could watch YouTube. And he definitely wants good sound.
He comes home with a new TV, and a bunch of cables that the salesman told him he will need. The TV has a multitude of I/O connectors -- HDMI, DVI and/or VGA, component video, composite video, optical audio and analog stereo audio. It even still has an antenna input like his old TV, and now has an ethernet jack as well.
Does the end user have an A/V receiver, or did he also just buy a sound bar to go with that new TV? How about that cable or satellite STB? And the DVD or Blu-ray player? What about HD sources vs. non-HD sources? Which components in his system support optical digital audio? How about his home network? What is he supposed to connect to that ethernet jack on the back of the TV so he can watch YouTube?
Strange as it may seem to we engineers, I can imagine a non tech-saavy consumer getting overwhelmed and thinking either (a) I need to spend a lot more money that I wasn't planning to spend -- more cables, more equipment, and maybe even a professional installer, or (b) if it's this complicated just to hook everything up, imagine what it's going to be like trying to use the remote and figuring out how to watch cable TV! Or God forbid, how to watch YouTube?
Such a consumer might decide, quite simply, that this TV and his original plan was just too much -- too much time, effort, and money, and ultimately too complicated to use.
And so the TV and all that other stuff goes back in the original packaging and back to the retailer, even though absolutely nothing was wrong with any of it.
Charity shops are another recipient of well-intentioned gifts, these would be the owners that are too embarrassed to go beyond Tom Lehrer's famous quip, 'Uhh..just the thing I need, how nice!'.
As I recall that was for a 'matching pen-and-pencil' .. uhh, go look the song up yourselves.
'Christmas time is here by golly...'
First of all, who wrote this? Sylvie? Votre nom, s'il vous plait.
This phenomenon may also be caused by the profilteration of frivolous "toys" on the market, a fairly well-off population, and the apparent imperative to give those who already have everything they need some gift for the holidays.
I once did return a Christmas present, although unopened. It was an early PDA. I could just as easily have opened it, confirmed my total disinterest, and then returned it.
I'm not surprised that there's often nothing wrong with the products. So what's the answer? Perhaps the manufacturers should first interview the intended recipient of the gift, before allowing the gift-giver to buy the product? Doesn't seem very practical.