I’ve never been a fan of consumer-complaint-as-blog-post mini-genre, but there’s a larger principle here about sustainability, so please indulge me: I wrote a letter to Bose’s CEO, Phil Hess this morning that I thought I would share. I’ve now had two Bose products that have failed that can’t be fixed. I won’t be buying any more Bose products, as much as I would like to, unless I can see that they’ve made a commitment to making repairable products and standing by them. Everyone should reject the current practice of treating electronics as disposable goods.
October 30, 2019
Phil Hess, CEO
Dear Mr. Hess,
First, I would like to tell you that I have been a Bose customer for many years. I do not need to tell you that the company that you have the honor of leading has been designing and manufacturing innovative audio products for decades. Personally, I have enjoyed the Bose LP1, the Bose Soundlink, and most recently, the Bose Quiet Comfort 25. I cannot even begin to tell you how much I have valued these things. I used the Bose LP1 at a coffeehouse that I owned and it absolutely revolutionized the quality of the live music that we offered there. The noise reducing headphones sucked the stress out of travel, replacing it with music. I am grateful for the engineering behind these products. I write this to contextualize my current and profound disappointment with Bose.
The Bose LP1, after years of perfect service, broke. I was told by Bose that it could not be fixed. Instead I was offered a discount on a more current, similar model. Except the Bose L1 is not a direct replacement and did not meet my needs. What should have been fixable instead meant throwing away the Bose system that I loved and spending $1000 on something I do not. Last week, the Bose Quiet Comfort 25 headphones developed a ‘short’ in the left headphone speaker.. I expected to be able to send it in to get it fixed, instead I was offered a discount on a replacement set of headphones. Rather than fixing what is likely a broken piece of solder, your company proposes that I should throw away an otherwise completely fine pair of headphones and replace them for $135. That is offensive and defies any logic not based in greed.
This past February I sold my coffeehouse and began a M.S. degree in Sustainability because I cannot think of a more important way to spend the remaining 20 years of my working life. I read your message on sustainability and I am writing to tell you that it is not simply about installing solar panels and using sustainable packing materials. An actual and meaningful commitment to sustainability would require making products that can be repaired. Forcing your customers to replace otherwise functional devices when they break makes a mockery of the principles that—I am guessing—your marketing department put into your mouth. If you would like to retain me as a customer, I will need you to demonstrate that you will take steps to provide real service and support of the products that you make instead of treating them as disposable objects. Make it possible for a customer to maintain a set of headphones for at least a generation, or shut up about sustainability.