Why does Maytag turn a recall into a data-mining opportunity?
First I saw a news item on how Maytag is recalling 1.6 million refrigerators. The article gave an 800 number to call to see if my refrigerator is being recalled. Now let’s get real, do you really expect me to endure the voice-mail hell that must occur when you tell 1.6 million people to call a single phone number? OK, I know better than that, so I go to Maytag’s website. I still feel pretty good about Maytag since they have that lonely repairman and my mom’s Maytag washer lasted 15 years. So it does not take too long to find the web page announcing the recall. I don’t see the little chart at the bottom, it is below the fold, as they say in the newspaper trade, which means “Off the screen” in web page terms. That chart gives the prefixes of the models affected. So I click on the link that says: “Check to see if your refrigerator is affected”. That sends me to a series of pages where I am asked for how I heard about it, my phone number, and then a page where I am supposed to enter my full address as well as my email address. Now I am getting a bit offended. I did not want to be data-mined; I wanted to know what refrigerators are going to burst into flames. I expected a list of serial numbers and all I am getting is a bunch of nosey questions. How about Maytag tells me what refrigerators are bad and then I will decide if I want to give them all my information?
Despite my reservations, I went through the degrading intrusive nosey pages, telling them where I lived and my phone number and email, since I really did not want my house to burn down. They said the model number and serial number was on a label on the inside of the fridge. I found a label there but it only had the model number, so under the serial number, I put “none”. I hit enter and get back the hallmark of incompetent software, a reply: “The system has encountered an error.… Click here to return to the main page and try again.” Notice the buffoon programmer did not say what was wrong, string parsing or type matching or what. It reminds me of the way Microsoft gives up on copying a big batch of files: “Oh, something is not as I expected with one of the 5404 files, so I give up on all of them and screw you”. These programmers must all go to the same school, or more likely gather at midnight in the same coven.
So then I get really ticked and figure maybe Maytag treats the government better than they treat us peons. So I go to the Consumer Products Safety Commission website. There it is pretty easy to find the recall, and the chart that show serial numbers and models is above the fold. Best of all, there was a picture that showed the label was in two places so I then found the serial number. It was easy to see my Maytag was not affected, maybe 30 seconds tops. Whew. I still am seething about Maytag’s having to get all my data before they tell me if the fridge was bad. If my serial number had a certain prefix I would have to call or use the Maytag website to find out if my particular model was affected. You would think they could just publish the range of serial numbers, but their lawyers must want to keep it secret.
How sad, that 1.6 million Maytags may burst into flame. They are blaming it on a vendor part, but I had one bad experience with my Maytag already and I guarantee you that the Cherry switch they used was good, it was the environment that they put that switch in that caused the failure. Well that lonely Maytag repairman won’t be so lonely anymore what with 1.6 million people to visit. I just get so sad when I see these great old brands destroyed by finance types that try to squeeze every last penny of cost out of the product so they can get that fat bonus and temporarily drive up the stock price. Then the lawyers try to cover the whole mess up.
I had a similar experience with Samsonite. Nobody my age can forget the Samsonite ads where a gorilla would toss around a piece of Samsonite luggage and it did not break. Based on that brand image I have bought two Samsonite computer bags. I had the strap break off one and the zipper split on the other. I hope the MBA’s were able to scrape the maximum amount of value off the brand identity before they destroyed it. For now I would prefer a generic Chinese brand to a famous American brand that is really Taiwan junk being re-sold by a bunch of slick marketing geeks. As the sign says in my tailor’s shop: “You remember low quality long after you forget about low price.”