Monday, June 26, 2006

Curmudgeon School

Welcome students to the new session of Curmudgeon School! I am delighted you could join me for today’s lesson. Today we are going to have a pop quiz. I know, you all hate quizzes, but my job as professor of Curmudgeonliness is to ensure that you all have the knowledge you need to succeed.

I am going to present 10 scenarios and I want you to tell me if they were “quality” experiences. The answers are at the end. Base your answers on Philip Crosby’s definition of quality: “conformance to requirements.” Remember, the provider of the product or service needs to deliver it in a manner that meets the requirements of its customers.

1. I buy my son a $1 water gun at Target. He plays with it for two hours and the trigger breaks. It no longer squirts water but he continues to play with it.
2. I buy a $45,000 SUV. Within 12 months, the power seat needs to be repaired, the power mirrors needs to be replaced and it averages 11 miles per gallon, which is much lower than the dealer told me it would get.
3. I buy a $20,000 Toyota Camry. After signing all the paperwork I notice that there is a small scratch on the hood of my new car. The dealer promises to make it as good as new. In fact, the dealer does repair the scratch and I can’t tell that it was ever there.
4. I purchase a round trip airline ticket from San Francisco to New York for $198. I am in a middle seat both ways. No food was served. The airline lost my luggage on the way to New York. The luggage was delivered to my hotel in New York the morning after I arrived.
5. I check into a four star hotel in New York. My $279 a night room is on the 27th floor. I have to wait between five to 10 minutes for the elevators each time I want to go up or down.
6. I check into a Motel 6. My room costs $49. There is no elevator, and I have to carry my luggage to the second story room. The room is clean but very spartan.
7. I go through the drive thru at McDonald’s at noon and order an Asian Salad with grilled chicken. I am told that I have to go park and wait 10 minutes while my chicken is cooked. The salad is delicious.
8. I buy a new computer from a warehouse club retailer. The computer is plagued with problems and I eventually return it after eight months for a full refund.
9. I have 3,000 books printed. The printer promises me they will be delivered within four weeks. They arrive after only three weeks. However, the books are missing 16 pages. The printer reprints and reships the books to me at no additional cost. I receive them five weeks after I originally ordered the books.
10. I read a very engaging article in a magazine. I notice that there are two misspelled words and that the table of contents points me to the wrong page for another article I wish to read.

1. No. And don’t give me that “What do you expect for $1?” nonsense. If you can’t make a toy that will last for $1, then don’t sell it for $1.
2. No. I expect everything to work right, and I expect to be told the truth. The fuel economy didn’t come close to what I was promised.
3. No. A new car should be blemish-free. If I had wanted a scratched car, I would have bought a used one. Although the dealer did make it right, they should have made it right before I purchased the car.
4. No, even though the price was great. The seat was lousy and the lack of food was annoying but those issues didn’t affect the quality of the product. I know that airlines only have so many aisle and window seats available, so there is a chance I will get a middle seat. Also, anyone who has traveled recently knows that airlines don’t feed you anymore. The issue was the lost luggage. I expect the airline to get my bag to my destination the same time it gets me there.
5. No. The hotel should be designed so that I don’t have to wait an eternity for an elevator.
6. Yes. I know what I am getting with Motel 6. I don’t expect a fancy room or elevator service.
7. No. The whole point of a drive thru is for speedy service. Although the salad was delicious, a 10-minute wait for an item in the drive thru is ridiculous.
8. No (and yes). Clearly, there was a problem with the computer and so I didn’t have a quality experience with it. However, I did have a quality experience with the store. It accepted the computer back and gave me a full refund eight months after I purchased it. That exceeded my expectations.
9. No. Although I really appreciate the printer for correcting the error in such a timely manner, it should have printed the books correctly the first time.
10. No. It is the responsibility of the magazine’s editors to make sure that the articles are error-free.

Class dismissed.