An Open Letter to Bose CEO Phil Hess

2 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Bose CEO Phil Hess”

  1. As someone who once worked for the company in one of their stores during college, something as you suggest SEEMS like it makes sense on the surface. I’m not speaking FOR Bose, but from my own extensive experience over several years working in one of their busier locations. What you don’t understand are the costs involved. You’re operating under some seemingly false assumptions.

    Firstly, is that somehow offering a customer a brand new, more updated product in place of a broken one, is somehow “greed” motivated. That’s a 100% FALSE assumption. In fact, in the case of headphones, in many cases money was being LOST by offering those upgrades. A fact that used to drive us absolutely nuts because the company would take virtually any headphone back in ANY condition in exchange for a brand new pair at a discount in, many cases, of anywhere from 30% to 70% off. That is absolutely absurd. But, they did it as a premium customer service experience. And, customers LOVED it. The only ones who complained were the always entitled self-righteous class of customers who felt they should never have to pay for anything because they paid good money ten years ago for a product that doesn’t work anymore and believe they are entitled to a brand new whatever it was, totally FREE. If you want to talk about “sustainable”, that is not sustainable as a business model. No other company did that. For very good reason. Possibly one of the reasons Bose is closing all their stores.

    Secondly, is cost of repair versus a replacement product. For something like headsets it would cost very nearly as much to repair them as to pay for the upgrade in most cases. Those workers get paid. Shipping costs have to be accounted for. Everything has a cost. And, every customer always assumes it’s a simple fix when in truth they have no idea. Suddenly they all become “experts”. They want it to be simple because they think simple fix means cheap fix. But, labor is labor regardless of a simple fix versus a complex problem. But, to the company’s credit, any repairs that could be done were flat-rate. No surprises. If someone arranged for a repair to be sent out they knew to the penny what the cost was.

    Thirdly, as far as sustainable goes all electronics are sustainable in that they can be recycled. But, in terms of repairing a commodified product like headsets, it just makes no business sense at all. You have no idea the sheer volume of broken headsets the CE industry would have to deal with. I don’t mean that as condescending. I mean you REALLY don’t know. People treat their electronics like garbage. You would not BELIEVE the kinds of damage people try to pass off as warranty issues on a daily basis. Where I worked we saw dozens of headphone upgrade customers every….single….day. Companies would have to build separate facilities just to deal with headphone repairs. Those facilities need staffing, and infrastructure, and on and on. Companies can’t offer that at a loss. It’s financially unviable and unsustainable for products like headsets, which MOST customers view as disposable to begin with. It just doesn’t work. Unless someone wants to pay more to repair headsets than they’re worth, which is not happening.

    With older products, there are some things they simply do not have parts for anymore and have no way of repairing. It happens. That’s just the way it is unfortunately. Cycle of life in electronics.

    I may have rambled a bit. My apologies. But, when I saw the thread I said, “Oh, man! I gotta reply.” Lol


    1. I only just spotted this comment. While you raise excellent points, I just fundamentally disagree. As a civilization we need to manufacture products from the very outset with repairability as a fundamental aspect of the design. I don’t doubt that what you write is true in this moment, so what’s required is a paradigm shift. And it IS slowly happening. Because nothing is actually disposable, everything goes someplace. And that is now creating significant problems for us.


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