Quality Fade at Post-Christmas

How many Christmas presents are you returning?

We are now in the Post-Christmas Season, a time of wonderment as to why so many of the gifts given and received are going back for credit or exchange. The reason may be Quality Fade* (QF). QF is the undercover, underhanded way to cut corners in both well-established brands and new products, especially when demand for them grows.

The new toaster your kids gave you for Christmas was the brand for which your loyalty has been steadfast. So why did this one burn your toast?

The socks Aunt Emma sent again this year were marked as the same size as the pair she sent last year. Why were they smaller? Or are your feet bigger?

Manufacturers always hunt for cheaper ways to make and service products. The more components in a product and/or the more suppliers needed to make the product market, the greater the opportunity for QF to be sneaked in.

If challenged about QF in size consistency, performance, and durability, corporations claim care is taken to maintain high standards—and whip out CERTIFICATION as the proof: quality is certified by a certifier and the corporation has a certificate to verify it. But corporations shy away from details such as who does the certification, how they are trained, how they do it, how often, who pays them, the size of samples (1 out of 100 of a product or 1 out of 10,000), and whether “outside” suppliers have advance notice of a certification visit.

Consumerist Takeaway: Consider Quality Fade as a possibility for why a gift is not working as expected. If the corporation has been getting similar complaints, they may not admit it but are more likely to have pre-approved funds or upgraded replacements for smart consumers.

QF is the 4th of the 6 abuses of consumers. Two more ahead: Fulfillment Failure and Customer Disservice. If you are not a regular reader, the previous three posts about abuses are available on this site. And do sign up for my blog. My list is not sold, borrowed, or bartered.

Happy Post-Christmas!


*Paul Midler created the term “quality fade” in his excellent book. Poorly Made In China: An Insider’s Account of the Tactics Behind China’s Production Game (John Wiley, 2009).


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