The unrepairables

15Feb13

I recently purchased a folding tray table, which in theory is great for supporting anything ranging from a book to a cup of coffee to a laptop (though probably not all of those at once) when you’re working away from your desk. I actually owned the same model before, so buying another one seemed like a no-brainer. Unfortunately, when I received the product, I noticed that the legs were too loose, making the tray table unstable.

Easy enough to fix, right? As it turns out, no, since the legs were attached by some sort of bolt without an adjustment point on the end. The bolt lacked a screw head, and there wasn’t even a place to grab onto it with a wrench and tighten it that way. I ended up having to return the product and get a replacement.

This is an example of poor design, since there’s really no reason the customer should have to return a product when all it needed was a minor adjustment. Putting this another way, if you’re designing a product and you have the option to make a part user-adjustable, then all else equal, it’s probably a good idea to do so. Otherwise, you’re wasting customers’ time and chipping away at your own brand equity, while paying for returns and exchanges that never should have been necessary in the first place.



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