Chapter 16

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When I lived in Townsville, the auto repair shop that I patronized was extremely classic. Located in a former corner gas station, it was friendly and cooperative, rather expensive, and absolutely, always competent. They never messed up, ever. They'd drive you home or to work and pick you up. They'd lend you a car if yours was down for the weekend. They were excellent in every way.

But, the last time I was there they did mess up. They replaced the fuel pump, and when I picked up my car the counter guy gave me a spiel about the super-guarantee that his new super-guaranteed parts had. There was even a colorful brochure describing how their parts were more guaranteed than anybody else's parts.

I was polite, but here's something that I know: When a manufacturer tries to sell his product on the basis of what a great guarantee it has, the product is probably junk. Reputable companies do not make a big deal about their guarantees. General Electric never made a big deal about how guaranteed their light bulbs were. Singer never made a big deal about how guaranteed their sewing machines were. Toyota never made a big deal about how guaranteed their cars were. People just presume that those companies made competent product.

The only companies that make a big deal about their guarantees are the companies that make cheap and flimsy products. They have to. People know that these companies' products are lighter and less expensive than the standard stuff, and the manufacturer has to do something to convince the people to buy the stuff.

And just think -- if the schlock manufacturer had to take some amount of quality out of the pump to make it cheaper, imagine how much more quality they had to take out of it to make it cheaper and fund the inevitable warranty repairs too.