Here's my opinion: retailers and suppliers should consider non-defective product returns to be a GOOD thing. It means that sales and marketing have done a good job convincing people to buy things they don't need. Sure, some consumers realize their mistake and take the trouble to return the useless gewgaws, but most don't and that's lots of useless products sold that would not have been otherwise. JMO/YMMV
I would love to return a particular electronic product I bought recently, because I feel the advertising and promotion misled me - to the extend of fraud - about the fitness for a particular purpose. But it works great for its other purposes, so I'm just dissatisfied with the company.
Very good return policy is confidence of vendor in product it sales. Exemplary example is Costco, they always support their products and consumer consider it very reliable source. In general we purchase around $12K per year. However, our return rate may around $500.
I always look at the return policy before making a purchase. If it doesn't work as expected, I want an out. If there is a no return policy, the store has to expect less sales. It is a trade off between high sales and low return costs.
Returning deffective products maybe a way to force retailers to buy from quality suppliers. They now combing the world for the cheapest and whimpest, knowning that shorter life time equals more future sales. They are killing America while creating mountains of junk. We have to say no and get our money back.
Why not just focus on making products that are inherently easier to use, instead of putting the burden on the customer and having him or her have to learn via DVDs, in-showroom instruction, training, and other methods? That seems more sensible to me.
We may be moving in that direction. In WSJ interview with Kazuo Hirai the newly named Sony president is laying the groundwork for it: "Hirai described his strategic goal as teaching the company's 168,000 employees that past successes in manufacturing must be replaced by selling the harder-to-quantify 'user experience.' The world has moved on, he said, "We can't just continue to be a great purveyor of hardware products, even though some people expect us to do that."
You are citing one of the best ways Manufacturers and Retailer can reduce non defective returns, create simple, clear NON TECHNICAL instructions covering both how to set up and use a product. In fact, research indicates CE consumers will spend less than 20 minutes setting up a device before giving up and returning it. The golden rule applies here...prevention, in this case a small investment in vehicles that are focused on preventing returns from occurring the first place ( such as user guides, social media, proactive customer service etc) will provide large returns in the form of reduced costs...and happier customers.
I can say that products not made with quality standards will be returned IF (and that is a big if) the products fail during the return period. I made the mistake of buying an Element tv that failed after 6months, returned for a fix, failed again in 5months, 2 days after 1yr warranty it failed again!!! They did take it back and "replaced it" but the unit they sent was a return / refurbished unit!!!! We are waiting for this to fail in another 5 or 6 months. If my experience is anything like the general consumer there will be trouble brewing. I will never by that brand again nor will my friends. At some point maybe the manufacturer will realize that consumers expect quality. The other experiences I have had with purchases were very pleasant, the digital unit from the cable company came, was plugged in and worked. That is how things can work.
I think Sony is a classic example of a once-great company that lost its way in terms of design and manufacturing quality. I used to look first at their products, the design and hardware quality was tops.
Then about 15 years ago, it really started to change. For example, a basic AM/FM tabletop radio I bought was junk—the knobs fell off, the case was junk, it just didn’t have the solid feel you used to associate with Sony name. Same for some other products of theirs I bought. They coasted on their name and hard-earned reputation, a common trajectory among companies that get big. I spoke to friends who bought Sony products and they had the same experience, often returned them due to early failures, too.
You are right, Sony does not seem to be the quality brand I also thought they were. A friend of mine from Japan told me that they are not a quality brand in Japan. This was many years ago. They seem to have a better reputation in the US, but it is definitely slipping.
Sony is essentially a company in the CCU. Their management is building defective products and continuing to sell it after they know that they have a problem. They hide this from consumers until they are sued and then don't tell their other customers with the latent defects, hoping that the settlement period will expire before the defect becomes widely known. Never again, Sony. Never Again!
The launch of products has become a drive for crazy fast time to market metrics. In turn low cost EMS offshore push their deliverables, and it takes just a few faulty parts and returns escalate. Maybe our desire for new, new, new, we have become our own worst enemy and will just need to live with higher failure rates and returns.
Returns and allowances are a very big problem for any business....The japanese initially kicked our butt when they were able to reduce their returns to near zero....Everybody remembers the "Zero Defects" programs that every US company was running to become more competitive in the 80's.....Well guys the proof in finally in.......ZERO DEFECTS IS SOMETHING YOU STRIVE FOR....BUT NOT SOMETHING A MANUFACTURER CAN ACTUALLY ACHIEVE ON AN ONGOING DAILEY BASIS......
THE FACTS ARE THAT PRECISION MANUFACTURING IS AN IMPOSSIBILITY....THE BELL CURVE REALLY DOES EXIST
Actually, I'm not surprised by the numbers, and in my opinion a very simple element can significantly reduce the problem return of functional products. I know this is going to be considered a radical concept... but here it is.
Include SIMPLE Operating Instructions with the device. It has been my experience that in some cases, Operating Instructions are either NOT included, are included but are a poorly translated and thus completely useless jumble of almost meaningless words, or are so utterly complicated and detailed that very few are likely to actually read through the 50 pages of usually disorganized and hopelessly complicated steps.
For a number of years, it has bewildered me that a technology company will spend millions of dollars developing, producing, and marketing a product but when it comes to explaining how to operate the product to the final purchaser, they want to keep the costs down to $1.95...
Also, MOST people who buy products don't utilize 90% of the functions. I'm not suggesting eliminating those functions, just providing Instruction Manuals that simply and concisely (with good graphic images or pictures) tell the common user how to use the 10% of the functions they are likely to use. A little time in a usability study or survey should be able to identify the key functions used by most people.
So, to answer your question, in my opinion the solution to some of the problem is easy to implement. However, the mindset of the company is far harder to change.
As far as reselling refurbished units, I've been the unlucky purchaser of some of these products and can tell you that whoever does the testing or refurbishment is severely lacking in skills because MOST have been partially or totally non-functional.
Today's electronic SUCK! My wife keeps buying these expensive (over $400)digital cameras - only for them to fail in about 6 months to a year. I am tired of it. And I hate it that even the company I work for (an electronic company) justifies it by saying that they "don't want to overdesign". Gosh darn it! Please over design! At least some models - in that way I can buy the good stuff and avoid the junk. Thank you very much for whoever is listening out there.
You have to be careful here and consider who Accenture are. They are a consultancy firm who are trying to create a market for themselves to consult on. Scare tactics. On the whole electronics systems are very very reliable. Consumer is a soft target.
I think you are letting your xenophobia cloud your judgment.
The article states that over 90% of product returns have nothing to do with defects. Instead it is mainly due to customers not understanding the products correctly.
That product would be equally impenetrable regardless of where it was manufactured.
THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT!
How many returns are as a result of a manual written in undecipherable English?
How many times have you had to deal with the store's "technical" personnel who didn't have a clue as to what you were talking about?
How many times have you had to deal with the firmware of a device written by someone, if he worked for you, you would have fired on the spot?
How many engineers let the product out the door because it "seems to work", without the rigorous testing to make it bulletproof?
And sad to say, and it's hard to admit, how many designs can only be blamed on bad engineering?
How many products are deliberately designed to antagonize the customer?
My Samsung BluRay player forces me to waste over 2 1/2 minutes getting to the beginning of a BluRay movie trying to get through the many arbitrary "not allowed" functions of jumping directly to the main menu and skipping through the notices and previews.
In comparison, my portable DVD player allows me to go directly to the main menu and start the movie - just like that! I guess battery life is important to the design engineer, but they feel free to fritter away the user's time.
In this day of GHz processors, just how hard can they make it to go to the beginning of a file?
I am very surprised at how low the number of returns are due to defects. I have had so many problems with new products in the last 5 years that I literally prepare myself to return something at least once. Don't get me started on the issues I have had with plasma and LCD TVs. I think the "No trouble found" count is just the company/store inflating numbers. If I buy a Panasonic plasma TV and there is the pink-tint/green blob issue, the store and Panasonic will tell you that is normal. I absolutely do not believe it is normal that the edges of the screen are more pink than the center, and that the center is more green than the edges.
I also find it unacceptable that some LCD/plasma TV makers say that a certain number of burnt pixels is normal. I had a laptop with a few burnt pixels that drove me crazy. Thankfully Gateway replaced the screen even though the number was below their acceptable limit, but still. A burnt pixel is a defect...regardless if there is a million or more.
I had bought a new microwave recently and the power supply was so loud you could hear it 20 feet away. The Best Buy rep said it's normal to hear a buzzing power supply until we plugged it in the store. I bet they just repackaged it and put it back on the shelf.
I could go on and on about how low quality many things are today. I really don't believe the low number of returns due to defects. It has to be larger than that.
I also have never ever returned a product because of buyers remorse. Honestly, I don't even understand that concept. If I buy something it is because I researched it and know that I want/need it. Period. Maybe if consumers are more informed that ridiculous return issue would disappear.
Keep in mind that "no trouble found" means that it meets the manufacturers low cost design test requirements but does not mean that it does what the user expects. If a camera is designed with low cost optics and the test expects blurry pictures...no trouble found.
Here's an example:
The board room sets unrealistic cost targets.
Engineering designs a product with the lowest possible cost and defines a test that it can pass.
The marketing department sets up the customer's expectations much higher than reality warrants.
Manfuacturing spends as little as possible (Except they seem to spend a bunch of money on the industrial grade blister pack).
Sales people have no knowledge and you can't open the package so you can't evaluate it before you purchase.
You buy the thing and cut your fingers trying to open it only to find that it is a low cost junk so you return it.
The board room is suprised at the returns. Hah!