Grit Your Teeth And Admit You Were Wrong

, , , , , | Working | June 7, 2021

I work as a repairer and maintainer for a grounds care company that basically looks after the local authorities’ landscaping and does various seasonal grounds maintenance tasks. One summer, our company purchases some new-to-the-market hand-propelled gritting machines in readiness for the next winter season.

Six months later, the snow falls and the gritting machines are taken out and put to use. An hour later, the operator returns to the workshop holding the drive belt in his hand, reporting that the machine lasted two minutes and the belt keeps coming off every time it’s replaced. I inspect the machine and see a major design flaw, and in two days, I manufacture a remedy for the fault.

I phone the manufacturer.

Me: “Your hand gritters seem to have a design flaw. I’ve made a modification, but I want to know if fitting it will affect any warranties we have with your machine.”

Manufacturer: “What flaw? What’s wrong with it?”

Me: “The operator used it for two minutes, and the belt chokes up with the grit and keeps coming off.”

Manufacturer: “Your operator is using the machine wrong; there’s no flaw with the machine.”

Me: “How can he be using it wrong? Grit is loaded in and you push it as you walk.”

Manufacturer: “Well, he must be doing it wrong. We’ve had no problems and no other customers have complained about it.”

Me: “I think the part of the country where I am has had the first snowfalls this winter, so no customers will complain until they get snow and have the opportunity to use your product.”

Manufacturer: “There’ve been plenty of customers using them and you are the only ones to complain. There’s no fault with the machine; it’s your operator.”

I give up and go ahead with fitting the modification, and the machine works flawlessly.

Another month passes and the whole of the UK is hit with major snow. I get a phone call from the gritter manufacturer.

Manufacturer: “Are you the guy who called about the belt constantly coming off our hand gritter?”

Me: “Yes.”

Manufacturer: “I recall you mentioned a modification. Did you design one and did it work?”

Me: “The gritter works fine now.”

Manufacturer: “Ah, great. Was it the modification that sorted the problem?”

Me: “Have you been getting problems?”

Manufacturer: “Erm… no, erm… Nobody else has reported any problems.”

Me: “Well, our gritter is fine now.”

Manufacturer: “Was it the modification that fixed it?”

Me: “It was.”

Manufacturer: “Could you email us the details of the modification? We’d like to look at it.”

Me: “You don’t need it; you said you had no reported problems.”

Manufacturer: “We, err, don’t. It’s just out of interest.”

Me: “You weren’t interested in the initial complaint, so I’m not interested in showing you the design. Besides, according to you, it’s not needed.”

I hung up, but over the next week, I received many emails requesting the design, with their wording still denying any fault with the product.

The next summer, our company received their new product catalogue. The gritter was no longer listed for sale.

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