Cheap China-Made Crap - who's responsible?

Posted On: Monday - October 15th 2018 6:31AM MST
In Topics: 
  Cheap China-made Crap  Economics

That's a cool-looking toy you got there -
shame if Chinese Q/A were to happen to it.

Peak Stupidity will never run out of items for the topic key Cheap China-Made Crap, as, well, everything you buy is made there, and not all of it seems to work. I thought about the tire repair kit story after I'd planned to write about the toy above, so here goes.

The foam glider pictured above is not meant to last forever, obviously. I! GET! THAT! It's bound to have worse crash statistics than a squadron of Kamikazes... but, but... look at all those LEDs. Kids like lights. The Chinese like lights. It's a win-win.

Before I mention what was wrong with this product, let me discuss one thing first. Whose fault is it that one can't buy many consumer goods that aren't shoddy? Until fairly recently, it's been American companies specifying the manufacturing of the products, right? There is plenty of corruption on the China side, but the design of the products has been mostly done on the American side. I'm not necessarily faulting the engineers, as I think the marketing folks probably have a big hand in bringing costs down to where the parts specified are crap.

One could say that it's the consumers that drive this, as they are the ones buying the junk at the Wal-mart/Target/K-mart/Sears low prices. They won't settle for the same products at 25 - 50% higher that might just be better made. Sure, but do you have a choice at all now? No. You did in 1995, but I guess we blew it by going for the Chinese stuff. That may not be the case either, as per Inflation and Chinese Imports and Exports, my recollection is that the Chinese products were more decent back when the flood of goods started, in the mid-1990's. The companies saved money on the labor, at first (big money), but then profits had to keep rising, and they started gunning for the cheapest parts. At this point, Americans are even more used to throw-away stuff then they used to be (see the longer post - Cheap China-made crap in a throw-away country), so the companies don't see quality problems as any kind of problems at all. That's my theory, and I'm sticking to it.

It's the current era now, though (it usually is), and at this point, it's specification of cheap components by the engineers/marketers/production managers, corruption via substitution of even junkier stuff in China, and no respect for Q/A that add together to create a lucrative topic key here on Peak Stupidity.

That all said, what's the complaint this time?! Well, the glider above has a switch for its LEDs on the bottom that can be turned off, so's one doesn't run out the batteries while it sits in the toy box. We got it home and inserted the 3 batteries, after which the wing is attached simply, and then noticed this switch would not turn the lights off. Yeah, it had an "OFF" position, but that didn't work. I thought of the work-around of just pulling the batteries out each time we got done with it, but then had 3 second thoughts:

1) Taking the wing off and on to get to the batteries, along with one small wiring connector, was bound to wear out this glider as much as crashing it would.

2) Why should I do that workaround? We just bought the damn thing.

3) To get things to ever change, the manufacture must get some feedback. I don't mean a nasty email, a note on yelp or 1-star review on amazon. People learn better when they lose something. This company, Firefox Toys needed to lose the 20 bucks to learn anything. Way back, at the beginning of this blog, I wrote, in China, Inc., where quality is job 4,
Same as usual, the people at the store don't have time to know or care about what broke. I understand that, but I always let them know the story. I quit feeling bad about returning anything that may be broken due to slight misuse (up to the point of being backed up over by the car). I told the one girl, to the effect of: Hey, I'll keep coming back with these until we've got use out of 'em. I wonder whether the US headquarters will do the math and compare selling 3 or 4 of these for the cheap price versus 1 good one at double the price?* I know, I know, math is hard, especially for these CEO's.
One difference with the purchase of this glider was that it was a Mom & Pop operation (I only saw the Pop), so the guy did care, when I came back. It was all very friendly, and I asked out of concern whether the owner would lose out. No, he told me, and I was sure glad to hear that.

We picked out another one. Just to check out the switch on the new one (and to keep my batteries I had left in to show him the problem), I took the parts out of the new glider's box and tested the switch. Yea, it worked! Oh, well, since I dug into this, are all the parts there? No, they sure weren't! The 2nd plane had no horizontal tail. I was decent enough, just because this was NOT a non-caring chain toy store, to tell him "I'll use the stabilizer from the old one with the rest of the new plane". That saved the strapped Chinese firm from having 2 returns instead of 1, not really my intention. I just don't like waste, though, and couldn't help myself on that.

Nice Q/A job, Firefox Toys. Out of a sample of 2 there was one electrical defect and one missing part, meaning 2 non-functional toy gliders. I'm no statistician, but I just can't imagine those are good numbers!

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