Why They Do NOT Read The Manual

Why They Do NOT Read The Manual - washingtonpost.com Why...

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washingtonpost.com Why Won't We Read the Manual? Stupid Question, Perhaps, but Manufacturers Have Heard Stupider By Caroline E. Mayer Washington Post Staff Writer Sunday, May 26, 2002; Page H01 It's an old joke, but a spokesman for Gateway swears it's true -- that the computer maker's technical help line once got a call from a new purchaser complaining that her teacup kept slipping out of the computer's cup holder. The reason, of course: The "cup holder" was the tray that slides out to hold a CD-ROM. And so it has come to this: Americans buy the most sophisticated computers, the coolest digital cameras, the most advanced automobiles, the most versatile cell phones and handheld organizers, and then . . . and then we forget, or decline, or flat out refuse, to read the directions. Owner's manuals, care guides, how-to directories? No, thanks. There are lots of theories about why, but one thing is certain: The situation is driving manufacturers nuts -- and costing them, and eventually all of us, money. Consider Lee Battaglia of Vienna. He never reads directions for the computer and camera gear he buys. "It's too time-consuming and I'm impatient," the retired photographer said. "I'd rather watch someone else doing it and then I can ask why." And there's Fairfax schoolteacher Pam Grainer: "I'm a hands-on person; I learn by doing." Both would rather pay to take a course to learn how to use their new computers than do it on their own, from the detailed manual. Marketing experts, customer service consultants and corporate executives agree on the phenomenon. "There's no question that people are averse to reading the full instruction manuals -- that's a given these days," said Chuck Westfall, assistant director of the technical information department for Canon Inc., the camera and office-equipment manufacturer. And that makes consumer-product companies the target of their customers' dissatisfaction. In fact, some manufacturers and retailers say consumers' failure to read directions has prompted returns of perfectly good items on grounds that they don't work - - or don't live up to the customer's expectations. "Why doesn't my washing machine start?" (Is the lid closed?) "Why won't my printer work?" (Is it plugged in? Is the ink cartridge properly installed? Is there paper?)
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Those are among the "frequently asked questions" (and answers) contained in owner's manuals. But they're also the kinds of questions fielded by manufacturers' toll-free help lines. And companies say the cost of operating the call centers has mounted sharply as call volume has grown. With each new question comes the nagging fear at many corporations that consumers will become frustrated and dissatisfied enough to swear off their products. (But KitchenAid may not miss the woman -- a company spokesman vows this happened -
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This note was uploaded on 07/30/2010 for the course COM 2610 taught by Professor O'donnell during the Summer '10 term at Metropolitan State College of Denver.

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Why They Do NOT Read The Manual - washingtonpost.com Why...

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