March 1961 Radio-Electronics
[Table of Contents]
Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics.
See articles from Radio-Electronics,
published 1930-1988. All copyrights hereby acknowledged.
Better Business Bureau (BBB) was founded in 1912 as the National Vigilance Committee for the
Promotion of Ethical Business Practices in Advertising. It was later renamed the
Better Business Bureau in 1921. The organization was established in response to
concerns about fraudulent and deceptive advertising practices, with the goal of
improving consumer trust in the marketplace. In the early years, the BBB
primarily focused on combating misleading advertising. It worked to establish
standards for truthful advertising and to expose businesses that engaged in
deceptive practices. One of the key features of the BBB is its accreditation
program. The BBB also assigns ratings to businesses based on various factors,
including complaint history, transparency, and customer reviews. Less than an A+
rating was to be avoided, especially by larger companies, so having a major
publication like Radio−Electronics magazine shine light on the
situation no doubt motivated them into corrective action mode.
BBB Raps Set Manufacturers
Not all those complaints against the electronic industry that we hear about from
the Better Business Bureaus are customer complaints against the local service technician.
More than a few are complaints from service technicians and dealers against distributors
and manufacturers. This was revealed by Kenneth B. Wilson, president of the National
Better Business Bureau, in a recent address to a meeting of the Service Committee
of the Electronic Industries Association (EIA).
The technician did come in for his share of complaints, Wilson pointed out. But
even then, the greatest volume of complaints directed at the technician was due
to misunderstanding of warranties. It is no surprise to the service technician that
the set owner is unpleasantly surprised to learn that, under the warranty setup,
set owner and manufacturer are co-guarantors of the receiver and that his share-cost
of the labor in replacing a defective part - may run several dollars more than that
of the manufacturer - the cost of the actual component. The manufacturers may not
be as aware of the situation. If such is the case, they heard of it at this meeting.
Dilatory service was another major cause of complaint, according to the BBB.
Technicians may keep a set many days or even weeks. Customers are especially annoyed
because "few explanations, if any, are given as to the cause of the delay in the
Overcharging, ineffective and incompetent service, and failure to live up to
promises were the other main complaints against service technicians by customers.
Unavailability of replacement parts is the greatest cause of
both public and service industry complaint against manufacturers (and distributors).
The industry, says the BBB, may feel that it has some good alibis for this problem,
but they are not good enough to satisfy either irate customers or frustrated technicians
who have to wait weeks or even months for a needed part:
"The plain and inescapable fact of the matter is that they find it difficult,
if not impossible, to believe that the brains and intelligence which have been able
to create the fabulous new electronics miracles about which they read every day,
cannot develop a system which will deliver replacement parts promptly."
Inadequate field testing and inadequate inspection formed the
second complaint of the service technicians, and, they report, a frequent cause
of customer complaints. Said Wilson, "Dealers report there are very few brands of
TV sets they would dare take to a customer's home in an unopened carton, because
so many sets require servicing before installation."
A group of related complaints centers around the quality of the product. Poor
quality of components, unavailability of parts for discontinued or small-run items
and units badly designed from a servicing standpoint all came in for their share
Delay in correcting manufacturing faults irked technicians especially.
In many cases, they tell the BBB, the manufacturer discovers a production weakness
soon after a new model starts running, but continues to distribute sets already
Poor communications of this type are often the fault of the
distributor, as is the dissemination of other service information. He and the manufacturer
are both held responsible by the service organization for failure to supply product
and service data promptly. Another form of poor communications is the distributor's
failure to report whether an order is being filled immediately or will have to be
ordered from the factory. This puts the service technician at a disadvantage with
his customer, because he cannot report definitely and accurately as to possible
Availability of replacement parts is a responsibility of the
distributor whose business is supposed to distribute just such parts, as well as
of the manufacturer. Some distributors are the subject of complaints on this score.
As might be expected, many complaints arise from distributor sales of parts to
consumers at the same prices as to service customers, as well as the "nurturing"
of spare-time service operators. Many of these, complainants point out, are presumably
operating illegitimately, without filing tax reports on business done.
In concluding the report, the National Better Business Bureau presented 12 recommendations
to manufacturers from among those received from the servicing industry:
• Ship only tested products.
• Do more thorough field testing to minimize "built-in" breakdowns.
• Stick to high-quality components with long-life potential.
• Create better public understanding of the true nature of your warranties.
• Keep warranties within time periods which will be profitable to service.
• Get service information to the industry.
• Limit advertising claims to demonstrable performance in the field.
• Provide more and better training facilities and clinics for the servicing
of the industry's products.
• Make replacement parts promptly available to the service industry.
• Design circuits with better accessibility to parts.
• Recognize and correct manufacturing faults promptly.
• Secure distributor cooperation in expediting parts orders.
Posted June 27, 2023