Returned Products Aren’t Broken, Just Too Hard to Use

Complexity causes 50% of product returns, a new report finds.

A scientist reported Monday that half of all products returned are fully operational but people can’t figure out how to work them.

She gave new products to a group of managers from Philips and asked them to use them over the weekend. The managers came back frustrated because they were unable to get the devices to work properly.

Multi-featured consumer electronics aren’t phat, they’re just big-boned.

[via Reuters]


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  1. GenXCub says:

    I’d returned a DVD recorder (not for a PC, for your TV) because it was too complex. Not for me, being a techie, but the entire process was just a pain in the rear compared to a VCR. It was my 2nd DVDR, the first I had was a 1-touch Akai (that isn’t made anymore), which was great, but died. I ended up getting something similar that was just easy to use. When I get home from work, my brain hurts… make things simple I say!

  2. Brian Gee says:

    I can beat that!

    I wanted so badly to return the Robosapien 2 I received as a gift this year. The way that thing is packaged you’d think it was made of gold or something.

    It took me (I shit you not) over a half hour to unpack it. The box is taped and glued and sealed to the plastic insert. The box doesn’t (apparently) open in any ordinary way; it must be destroyed. That gets you to the plastic insert, which must be cut with a razor to separate the front and back halves.

    Once inside, there’s like 30 of those industrial-strength, super-twisted wires holding the robot on the plastic. They’re cranked down tight, so you have to loosent them a little before you can attack them with wire cutters. Even with pliers and wire cutters and a box cutter, it still takes forever.

    I wanted to return the damn thing before I even got it completely out of the packaging. I wanted to take the pile of plastic and cardboard , with the robot still attached back to Sharper Image and tell them to screw themselves. Instead I took a beer break halfway through, then returned for the remainder of the package masacre.

    To top it all off, Robosapien 2 absolutely, completely sucks. Its bigger than the old one and uses tons of batteries (6 D and like 14 AA and a 9V?), but is less capable. It can’t walk over huge obstacles, like the edge of a woven rug. I almost managed to pull R2 up onto the rug with the help of the old one, which can walk up rugs just fine. It also seems to have problems picking up the objects that were specially designed for it to be able to pick up.

    The best part: it falls over. A lot. Then it claims “user error” or some other BS. Who wants a toy that doesn’t just suck, but blames its own inadequacies on the person who bought it? If anything it should curse its own manufacturer for its shameful existence.

    In the end, instead of returning it I took it downstairs and handed the controls to my friend’s 5-year-old. He mashed buttons while we took turns trying to “kill” the robot with my RC cars. The slightest tap would knock it flat on its face. Brilliant toy.

    So yeah, I wanted to return something simply because the packaging was ridiculous. Trust me, this toy needs no theft deterrent… i can’t imagine anyone actually wanting one.

  3. rasbach says:

    @Brian Gee: Packaging is getting ridiculous, I spent most of Christmas day unpackaging my son’s presents- some of which were actually screwed in to hard plastic inserts. Try doing all that with a 2 year-old waiting impatiently to play with his Go Diego Go toys.