Gongol.com Archives: April 2024

Brian Gongol

April 13, 2024

Weather and Disasters Faulty glasses wreck eclipse viewing

An Ohio village bought 1,500 sets of eclipse-viewing glasses for the community, but they were defective and nobody knew until the big moment arrived. And it's not like, for instance, a snafu at the Fourth of July parade when everyone involved can just say, "We'll make up for it next year". It's going to be a long wait for the next eclipse. ■ The intriguing question is whether the supplier of the faulty glasses had an honest mistake (albeit one which should have been caught during some kind of quality-control process), or whether it was a scam from the start (based on the assumption that the buyers would have no real recourse). ■ This is one of the reasons brand names and reputations are still important, even when it's possible to buy just about anything online from low-cost suppliers. Who are manufacturers like "NoCry" and "Melasa" and "Medical King"? The answer is: Who knows? But they're selling "eclipse glasses" online. ■ The other side of the brand-name coin is that trustworthy brands ought to be able to command a reasonable premium for their products -- but not expect an extortionary one. 20% to 30% seems like a fair premium that most people would be willing to pay, much of the time, for the assurance of a reliable brand name when two products appear to be equivalents. Search costs are real, after all. ■ Sometimes a brand is preserved not in the avoidance of failure, but in how they demonstrate a commitment to repairing the damage. Johnson & Johnson's decisive response to the 1982 Tylenol poisonings in Chicagoland is the gold standard in this area. With infrequently-bought products (like eclipse glasses), it's much harder to search for quality in the absence of strong brand reputations. Regrettably for the people of Orange, Ohio, it's going to be a long time before they get to try again.

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