The Case Of the Flawed Case

For the past two weeks I’ve been working at Puget Systems located about four miles from my home in Auburn, WA. We build high-end custom computers for people who want a system without all the hype and marketing speak. It’s an entirely different approach from everything else I’ve seen, and that was the driving factor that lead me to contact the president and inquire about a position.

Two days ago my manager at Puget called our group together. He pulled out a computer case and asked us all to look at it closely. All but the front panel was black and I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. He then placed the case on the table and asked us to look at it again.

This time I noticed faint markings on the faceplate, but only at certain angles. Otherwise, the case looked fine.

My manager talked about how this level of build quality isn’t acceptable and does not meet his standards. He mentioned how he pulled our entire inventory of that case and inspected them for similar flaws. All but three would be returned to the manufacturer.

It all felt a little extreme. Certainly I’ve worked for companies who wouldn’t have noticed the flaws in the case in the first place. I imagine most would have sold the cases on hand and prayed that customers wouldn’t notice the flaws.

I’ve witnessed managers bend their standards a little here or there when the customer wouldn’t notice. I once worked for a manager who demanded I lower my standards for promotion because it would lead to a higher bill rate to our clients. The customer wouldn’t notice, and the decision was made in the name of “increased shareholder value” so we’ll let it slide this time.

The problem is that it gets easier to let it slide until you’ve cut so many corners the standard becomes unrecognizable.

I seriously doubt many of our customers would have called to complain about the case. But I’m impressed that didn’t factor into the decision. The case wasn’t up to par for the person who tests and certifies every computer that leaves our warehouse. It didn’t matter that most people wouldn’t notice the flaws. That he noticed them was enough to send them back.

The only problem I’ve had since taking this new job has been that my PC at home feels slow and loud.

But I think I can fix that.