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The boss draws the line.

Get It

Try It

We were recently contacted by a sometime correspondent working at a somewhat well known computer company somewhat outside San Francisco. The message this time was curt but polite. It used the word 'please'. Demonstrably.

'Please report the bugs you write about.'

We've done so in the past. And in the past half year things picked up considerably and we submitted a new bug about every third day. For half a year. And it got to be too much.


Responses to the reports varied - and perhaps the blank denials were the worst - but the most curious were those that emerged after weeks - sometimes months - of bickering. Someone had finally given in; looked twice at the report; finally understood there really was a bug there; and gone on to at least apply a band-aid to it. And then they respond and ask us to check and see if the fix works.

The bug might have been in Panther; they didn't bother fixing the bug in Panther where our customers remained; but could we cooperate and purchase Tiger and see if it's fixed there?

Obviously not. We had customers to support on Panther. Removing our own band-aid workaround code couldn't be considered as an option as they'd not bothered applying the fix retroactively.

At about 16:30 local time in the town where this company has headquarters on 29 October of this year we suddenly got a stream of Tiger bug report replies.

'Please buy Leopard and tell us if the bug is still there.'


Companies all over the world pay monster teams of people to run quality control on their products. Why are these multibillion dollar Fortune 500 people asking their customers who already bought their product in good faith to test it too?

In what other industry is the customer responsible for not only finding problems with a product but also monitoring fixes for the manufacturer's sake?

What if car companies had the same attitude about quality control?

'Hi there, major car manufacturer! My steering wheel falls off every time I turn left in the rain!'

'Really? Well let's see what we can do! OK we think we've got it now! We haven't really checked this fix ourselves but if you'll be so kind as to turn left in the rain a few times - let us know how it goes! We shall be ever so appreciative!'


Something less life threatening?

'Hi there, hair product manufacturer! I'd like to let you know about a small issue I've been noticing. Your hairspray makes my eyes burn. In fact everyone I get close to throughout the day complains their eyes burn!'

'Wow! Thanks for letting us know! We added a new chemical to enhance shine but we didn't really test it for any other effects. We think we've nailed it. Can you try it again and let us know if the problem is gone?'


Why is the computer industry allowed to get away with such a cavalier attitude towards quality control? Why do they feel the consumer - who paid good money for their product - should be responsible to not only report problems but also spend time testing upon being told 'we hope we've fixed it'?

So: will we please file bug reports for what we're discovering with their product?

And: will we spend our time corresponding and bickering with them and getting told time and time again 'behavescorrectlyexpectedbehaviourworksasdesignedthisticketisclosedthankyouforyoureport' and further on testing their optimistic fixes when they finally relent?

And if you don't know the answer to that: get a new GP and get off that wicked prescription stuff you've been given.



The blackholing arm of Apple reaches far: reports have come in Cupertino have succeeded in having links to this article removed from a number of 'Mac friendly' sites. But you can still read it here.

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