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Don’t Return a Defective Product for Another Defective One

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Forum topic by thetinman posted 03-15-2014 01:26 PM 1515 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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thetinman

294 posts in 1001 days


03-15-2014 01:26 PM

We’ve all bought something during our lives that didn’t work as described. We’ve all returned things and sometimes we accepted a replacement only to find the same issues. The worst case is when you have to assemble a product and then find it has issues. Disassemble, repackage, cart it back to the store and repeat the process. Being an engineer and working closely with manufacturing, here are some tips that I learned to help avoid a lot of frustration.

Manufacturing works in work-orders or batches according to customer orders or simply floor space/machine availability. On Tuesdays we make widgets and on Wednesday we make thing-a-ma-bobs. What this means is that machines are retooled and recalibrated.

Maybe the set-up was not as accurate as the last time.

Tooling wears. Maybe the tooling is right at the edge of its’ life.

Maybe the machine operator set up and did his first run and found the tooling bad but the line supervisor told him to keep running – its’ still OK, he says. Sadly, most manufacturing supervisors are measured on production quotas with no measurement of how many fail end-of-the-line testing, increased rework costs or customer returns.

Maybe the normal, most experienced operator was out sick or on vacation. Only in manufacturing can you take someone off one operation and train him/her for another quickly according to production quota requirements.

The Quality supervisor has to make “business decisions” from time to time when a product is found out of spec. Safety, functionality and appearance are all considered. Unfortunately the shipping schedule is king and “slight” functional defects often are OK’d. Yep they hit the shipping schedule – like a bird hitting the windshield.

Here’s some tips I use to avoid the back and forth that can only yield a feeling that a product, or a brand’s entire line, is all junk.

When you buy something, that is bad (especially high cost) write down the serial number. Return the product to the store and before you accept a replacement check the serial number. Is it close to the same number you are returning? Don’t accept it. It’s likely it came from the same production run and it will be just like the one you returned.

Don’t let the store people tell you they don’t know the serial number. If it’s not clear on the box it is encoded in the bar code. If they won’t tell you, get your money back and go to another store to buy it. Chances are the production runs will be different.

Take the newest one – typically the serial number with the higher number. Possibly there was a design flaw that was fixed or the product improved in some way. Newer is better.

Lastly, look on every box for a manufacturer’s model code. You might know it as a Widget-555. The manufacturer’s code on one box might say Widget-555-D or Widget-555-7. The last dash numbers are design revision/update codes. Take the highest letter or number. The stores want to work on FIFO – first in first out. That clears their shelves of old product. It is not uncommon in the big box stores to see more than one manufacturer’s code for the same product. Don’t let them give you the oldest. You want the latest.

-- Life is what happens to you while you are planning better things -Mark Twain


18 replies so far

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Blackie_

4531 posts in 1976 days


#1 posted 03-15-2014 01:55 PM

Great advise, thanks

-- Randy - If I'm not on LJ's then I'm making Saw Dust. Please feel free to visit my store location at http://www.facebook.com/randy.blackstock.custom.wood.designs

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WorksInTheory

87 posts in 1065 days


#2 posted 03-15-2014 02:10 PM

Great advice. Curious of the background that triggered this post? Always interested in hearing about the experience that lead to the gained wisdom.

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thetinman

294 posts in 1001 days


#3 posted 03-15-2014 02:51 PM

Hi Worksintheory,

We all hear stories like “I bought 2 of those” or “three of those and they were all bad”. “That model or that product is junk. Don’t buy it.”

What spurred my note at this time was my friend who bought a compressor a month ago. It locked up on the 3rd day and he took it back for a replacement. It lasted 4-days until it locked up. I happened to be there working in his shop when it happened. Lot’s of cussing – and the “this company sucks” statement. He said he always had good luck with everything before with this brand but now he’s done with it. I helped him take it back to the store. He wanted his money back to buy a diffent brand even though he really liked this brand. I went with him to look at all the boxes and, sure enough, the store had 2 more with the older manufacturing code and 4 with the newer one. I explained the coding to my friend. I told him to tell the tool department guy to get one ready to take out to the truck. Sure enough, the tool guy went to the computer which told him the oldest one to grab. Now my friend saw what I was talking about and told the tool guy to “give me that one”, pointing at a newer code. No arguement from the tool guy. We told the tool guy about the defect associated with the older code. His response was pretty much oh that’s too bad. Kind of a I just work here attitude as would be expected nowadays.

We got the compressor back to his shop and hooked up. I was at his house yesterday and we talked about the compressor. It’s been runnig now for about 3-weeks.

-- Life is what happens to you while you are planning better things -Mark Twain

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roofner

112 posts in 1746 days


#4 posted 03-15-2014 11:40 PM

My last one was a walmart kitchen island. Had it all asembled the table top for the island was almost done and the one side of the top they hadn’t put the threaded inserts to mount the top. It was 20 miles to take back to walmart . I drove three miles to my local lumber yard and bought two 1/4 20 inserts and put them in the holes were already there.

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Unclejimbob

9 posts in 301 days


#5 posted 02-09-2016 12:59 AM

Tinman, you’re bringing tears to my eyes. Found your excellent posts on the Delta 36-725, and then saw your topic here and started laughing – at myself.

I bought on of the Orange Ones – Ridgid R4512 – and spend hours assembling it… only to discover that the machining on the cast iron top was just plain sloppy in its workmanship. The center and right side were dead level with each other, but the left side was about 1/64th low. Huh? I lived with it for two weeks, loved the R4512, but that hitch just kept bugging. 1/64” over the whole saw might be livable, but that much elevation change over a 3/4” miter slot just kept me up at night. (Too many years working with QC and QA will do that to a person. If it isn’t right, it isn’t right!)

Well, things happen, right? I returned the 250lb+ saw and got another one with a VERY different serial number and started putting that one together. Turned the saw upright and guess what? Same thing. At least I wasn’t completely done building it…

Back to the store and had them open a third one in the store and that too was low- on both left and right sides.
Sigh. Just gimme my money back. I’m done lugging cast iron beasts back and forth.

Went to Lowes, and spent about $50 more for the Delta 36-725, and right out of the box the cast iron is wonderful, meeting all my expectations for a machined cast iron surface. I’m still assembling it (thanks for all your help there!) and look forward to using it soon.

Sign me up as another poster child for repetitive buying of defective products!

-- The Bitterness of Poor Quality is Remembered long after the Sweetness of Low Price is Forgotten

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716

502 posts in 380 days


#6 posted 02-09-2016 01:32 AM

Most probably the saws were damaged during transportation and bent at the miter slots. Maybe someone was dropping them when unloading in the same manner. Could be the store.

-- It's nice!

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RobS888

1984 posts in 1308 days


#7 posted 02-09-2016 04:07 AM



Most probably the saws were damaged during transportation and bent at the miter slots. Maybe someone was dropping them when unloading in the same manner. Could be the store.

- 716


Yeah, sure, DKV, it damaged the top through the box and foam without obvious external damage. Your defence of Ridgid 4512s are getting pretty lame. Don’t you want to accuse him of being ignorant of what flat is? If dropping the box could ruin the top isn’t that ridgid’s fault for not packaging it better? Cast iron doesn’t bend well, it tends to break.

-- I always suspected many gun nuts were afraid of something, just never thought popcorn was on the list.

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becikeja

645 posts in 2276 days


#8 posted 02-09-2016 11:34 AM

Great post. I have to keep this in mind.
Makes perfect sense. Thanks

-- Don't outsmart your common sense

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Tennessee

2410 posts in 1978 days


#9 posted 02-09-2016 01:18 PM

Tinman is essentially right, unless there are inherent defects in the design to begin with – then no amount of great operators and fine manufacturing equipment can make it right.

You might say well, that product should never make it past the factory doors with the built-in defects in the first place, but it happens all the time.

Three great examples recently in the auto industry:
The built-in software by Volkswagen where their diesels would not pass emission tests, so they wrote the software to cheat when the car knew it was in emission mode and give wrong readings.
The strange Toyota “pedal to the floor” scenario a couple years back that after a couple years, mysteriously went away.
My wife’s Kia, where a plug they put in the power steering box was not strong enough to hold the fluid – they glued it in instead of threading it in – and in less than a year, all the Kia Souls had to come back for replacement.

These are all conscious design decisions, made by engineers and designers, and passed along with no remorse or issues by the people making the products. Here’s another one – Ashley Furniture decided to make their entire upholstered sofa frames completely out of MDF, instead of keeping just a bit of hardwood at critical pressure and stress points. When I worked there, we called it “driveway furniture”, since it would be at the end of your driveway for pickup after about 18 months. Many other furniture manufacturers followed suit.

Not that manufacturing is stable, everything he says happens all the time. I know, I was a maintenance and industrial engineer in manufacturing from 1978 through 2010. The machines that make the machines wear at the same rate as everything else, if not faster due to his correct comments on shipping schedules, operators, bad incoming components that hurt the machinery, bad maintenance, etc.

But I would also say that there are a LOT of designs out there that just suck. Like the difference between a cheap Asian bandsaw and a well made one. Cheaper, thinner castings, cheap bearings, design decisions to keep pricing down, along with quality.

-- Paul, Tennessee, http://www.tsunamiguitars.com

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DanielP

489 posts in 1355 days


#10 posted 02-09-2016 03:47 PM

Also, never ask for a redo at a fast food restaurant. Accept your loss and move on.

-- --- Dan

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ohtimberwolf

634 posts in 1815 days


#11 posted 02-09-2016 04:13 PM

DanialP I agree but there is a way to prevent someone spitting in on your burger because you sent one back. I got a glass of milk once with a hair floating in it. I moved it to the side and asked the waitress for one more glass of milk. She brought it and I said here is one with a hair in it in exchange for the new one. I have seen stuff picked out of food and sent right back so I always follow the procedure I just described if I have a problem. Just sayin.. larry

-- Just a barn cat, now gone to cat heaven.

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Kristian_S

22 posts in 365 days


#12 posted 02-09-2016 04:25 PM


These are all conscious design decisions, made by engineers and designers, and passed along with no remorse or issues by the people making the products. Here s another one – Ashley Furniture decided to make their entire upholstered sofa frames completely out of MDF, instead of keeping just a bit of hardwood at critical pressure and stress points. When I worked there, we called it “driveway furniture”, since it would be at the end of your driveway for pickup after about 18 months. Many other furniture manufacturers followed suit.

I agree, I’ve also experienced industries in which most of the highly experienced engineers were offered severence packages and almost entire departments were replaced with engineers fresh out of college. Many conscious decisions were then made out of ignorance and inexperience. The company is initially happy with their reduced overhead and parts cost but the long term implications and life cycle costs skyrocket.

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Kelly

1113 posts in 2407 days


#13 posted 02-09-2016 04:57 PM

Ironic, when I saw the title of the post, a Ridgid Compressor I bought came to mind. Drove an hour back, from a job, swapped for one that lasted five minutes longer. Brought that back and still have the Makita [headed toward a decade later].


Hi Worksintheory,

We all hear stories like “I bought 2 of those” or “three of those and they were all bad”. “That model or that product is junk. Don t buy it.”

What spurred my note at this time was my friend who bought a compressor a month ago. It locked up on the 3rd day and he took it back for a replacement. It lasted 4-days until it locked up. I happened to be there working in his shop when it happened. Lot s of cussing – and the “this company sucks” statement. He said he always had good luck with everything before with this brand but now he s done with it. I helped him take it back to the store. He wanted his money back to buy a diffent brand even though he really liked this brand. I went with him to look at all the boxes and, sure enough, the store had 2 more with the older manufacturing code and 4 with the newer one. I explained the coding to my friend. I told him to tell the tool department guy to get one ready to take out to the truck. Sure enough, the tool guy went to the computer which told him the oldest one to grab. Now my friend saw what I was talking about and told the tool guy to “give me that one”, pointing at a newer code. No arguement from the tool guy. We told the tool guy about the defect associated with the older code. His response was pretty much oh that s too bad. Kind of a I just work here attitude as would be expected nowadays.

We got the compressor back to his shop and hooked up. I was at his house yesterday and we talked about the compressor. It s been runnig now for about 3-weeks.

- thetinman


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MrRon

3926 posts in 2707 days


#14 posted 02-09-2016 06:15 PM

Many years ago, I purchased a Crapsman cabinet saw with a digital readout. I spent about 5 hours putting it together only to discover upon first run that the table was warped. I returned it next day to Sears, got my money back and have never gone back since. I went and bought a Jet cabinet saw and have never been disappointed. I now avoid Sears like the plague. I wonder how Sears has been able to stay in business so long. Recent stories indicate Sears is closing some of their stores. Back when Sears was Sears and Roebuck and had a catalog, the products they sold were very good. Competition since has put them in a race. They close stores, eliminate catalogs, cut the work force. Maybe the buying public is getting smarter and steering away from places like Sears and Walmart. Walmart is another place where I mostly stay away from. I go to supermarkets where they have a reputation for quality products, especially meats and vegetables. I pay a little bit more and sometimes a lot more, but I’m buying for quality, not price, especially when it concerns my health. One thing I have learned over the years is; when you buy with quality in mind, not price, you will not regret it in the long run. So when someone says Festool is too expensive, or a Mercedes Benz is over priced, they will be buying another one again sooner than they think. Sure price is always a concern when you are not rich, but buying non-quality goods is always false security; better to save up for that special purchase. I am a frequent Harbor Freight buyer, but I realize I will not be getting quality at that price. I buy from them only things that I consider disposable and 99.9% of what they sell is disposable. I have bought several tools from them that were defective. I returned them for a refund, not replacement. That is part of the learning curve.

I am also an engineer (retired) and I inspect everything I buy from a design point-of-view. From an engineer’s point-of-view, the good and bad aspects of a product are quickly ascertained. I have to stop now as it’s time for lunch.

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Unclejimbob

9 posts in 301 days


#15 posted 02-09-2016 06:28 PM


Most probably the saws were damaged during transportation and bent at the miter slots. Maybe someone was dropping them when unloading in the same manner. Could be the store.

- 716

Yeah, sure, DKV, it damaged the top through the box and foam without obvious external damage. Your defence of Ridgid 4512s are getting pretty lame. Don t you want to accuse him of being ignorant of what flat is? If dropping the box could ruin the top isn t that ridgid s fault for not packaging it better? Cast iron doesn t bend well, it tends to break.

- RobS888

Just to clarify – the boxes were in great condition, and each section of the tables (left, center, right) were very flat, within their section. But the left side of the cast iron was machined to a lower elevation than the center on the two saws I took home (I didn’t examine the 3rd one intimately, as we only opened it in the store). With my strait edge(s) in perfect alignment over the center and right sides, the entire left side was uniformly 1/64th” low. If it had been dropped and bent, that would not be the case. This was sloppy workmanship, plain and simple. I will say that I loved the other aspects of the R4512; it is a great saw if you get a good one. I just happened to strike out three times in a row and went to Delta.

I don’t expect a cast iron table to be perfectly flat, like a machinist’s surface plate or table. But the basic machining from the factory should leave the whole table at the same general elevation so that nothing catches if you slide it from side to side.

-- The Bitterness of Poor Quality is Remembered long after the Sweetness of Low Price is Forgotten

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