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Why we don't get involved in disputes

2 minute read

Csehak Szabolcs/ShutterstockOnly when strictly required

People often write to us asking us to help them in disputes with manufacturers. Sometimes they even ask us to start campaigns against the maker of some product they've bought that doesn't work properly. This is why we don't get involved.

You can imagine the headlines: "Warning: don't buy stuff from <this manufacturer>".

How often have you seen a story like that in RedShark? Never, thankfully.

There are a few very simple reasons why we don't do this.

1) We get so many requests that we wouldn't have time to run a magazine. We would need additional staff, and these wouldn't generate any revenue, so we would ultimately have to reduce the quality of RedShark.

2) We usually only have the reader's side of the story, and often it's incomplete. To get the full facts about a case, we'd have to spend an inordinate amount of time investigating it (see 1 above).

3) There are already procedures in place. If you're drawing a blank, escalate to a higher level of authority. Write to the CEO if necessary. He or she may not be aware of the issue. Senior managers may not rejoice when they get complaints but they are mature enough to appreciate the value of feedback.

4) Yes, we do have very good relationships with most manufacturers. That doesn't make it our job to sort out problems with products that the manufacturer sells. We are definitely in a privileged position: manufacturers obviously want us to have a good impression of their products, so they make sure that if we have issues, they are solved. But while it's reasonable to expect faulty equipment to be repaired if it's under warranty, you can't expect personal service from a manufacturer, unless you pay extra for top-level support. Sometimes you do get it - and that's fantastic.

5) If a product is out of warranty, then it's out of warranty. It's all part of the contract when you buy the goods, subject only to your statutory rights. Of course no-one expects every product to go wrong the minute the warranty expires. And there will be times when an aspect of a product that you would expect to last a lifetime fails shortly after the end of the warranty. Sometimes a manufacturer will do the decent thing and replace it or repair it. But please don't expect us to make your case to the manufacturer for you.

6) Software will always have bugs. Newer software will have more bugs than more mature software. Please don't upgrade to new or even Beta software just before you start an important project. Beta software is software that may be broken or unsafe. That's the only understanding under which you should use it. If you do use it and something goes wrong, you have no case against the manufacturer. Some bugs linger long into the "released" versions. This is inevitable. There are so many combinations of hardware and software - including external devices and their drivers - that ultimately tracking these bugs down amounts to supporting almost unique set-ups. You can't necessarily blame a manufacturer if you're using one of these unique set-ups and you have a bug. The manufacturer may never have had an opportunity to test the particular combination of hardware and software that you have.

Finally: we always love to hear how you're getting on with your purchases. Your feedback helps us to plan and improve our coverage. It may also persuade us to write articles that help users to avoid common problems.

But - just to repeat ourselves - if we were to get involved in liaising between users and manufacturers, we wouldn't be able to run RedShark.

Tags: Business