Product designers’ stupidest mistake

I don’t really want to turn my blog into a continual “I hate this product” rant site, but the problem with being something of a perfectionist myself is that I think companies ought to be run by people with a bit of common sense, at least.

So here’s a tip for all you manufacturers out there: women are your customers, too.

When you design a product and you test it (assuming you do test it — sometimes I wonder) if you don’t include women users in your testing process, you are capital-L Losers.

What has this top of mind for me this morning: I bought a Bolens push mower from Lowes last fall. I bought it to replace a mower that had come with my house and was literally falling apart. I never had trouble starting my old mower. This Bolens mower, on the other hand, is a bear to start. Priming doesn’t help. Nothing helps. The ONLY time it starts up easily is when it’s already been running and has only been off for a couple of minutes (e.g. I have finished the front lawn and have dragged it down the driveway to do that back).

So I invariably end up yanking the cord over & over.

I guess it was only a matter of time before I wrenched my back.

I couldn’t stand up straight yesterday morning. And have you tried getting a chiropractic appointment on a weekend?

So thanks a lot, Bolen. I spent this week running my a*s off for other people — my clients, my firm’s account managers, my kid, my girl scout troop. And all week I was thinking, just get through this, because come the weekend, I can get out and golf.

And now I can’t swing my club.

Words can’t express how upset I am.

And what recourse do I have? None. Lowe’s has my money. Bolens has my money. My ruined weekend is of no concern to them.

The best I can hope for is that someone who’s shopping for mowers will read this post and avoid buying this horrible, terribly designed product. Save your money. Throw your money down a sewer, even, you might be out $200 but at least you’ll be able to swing a golf club.

[tags] products to avoid, Bolen lawn mower [/tags]

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8 Responses to Product designers’ stupidest mistake

  1. Dad says:

    Sorry about your back but that’s what you get for buying a Bolen–should have gotten a Toro. Next time ask me.

    BTW, I was putting in fence post with my one-man post hole driller and wrenched both my shoulders so have trouble swinging a club too. Doing yardwork is not for golfers. You don’t think Tiger or Phil work in their yards on their off days do you?

  2. jan says:

    I can SO relate. I weigh 110 lbs. so am quite used to trying to use products made for larger people. But now I strike back. I bought a lawnmower several years ago with your similar experience.

    Finally i just exploded and took it back to the store to get my money back or one that would actually start.

    They had to agree that there was no disclaimer that said that the operator had to weigh 200 pounds and have large amounts of testerone, so it should have started for me. I ended up with an electric one that had a simple switch. It was a little hard to work it with the cord at first but then I got the rhythm.

    From then on if I can’t get something to work with my strength, I take it back.

  3. Deb says:

    Sorry, Kirsten, about your back. Any hope that it will be better by the weekend?

  4. Kirsten says:

    Let’s hope so . . . it’s now been four days and I am still a hurting unit.

  5. Kirsten says:

    Good for you, Jan — my only problem now — how do I lift the thing into my car to take it back?

    Suppose they’ll accept it if I bring it back a few crumpled pieces at a time?


  6. Deb says:

    Now, if you have the strength to break it up into crumpled pieces…

  7. Sounds like the trouble I had a few years back with a nice Troy-Bilt rear-tine garden tiller. When it was new it would almost always start with just a couple of pulls. Good thing, because it had a pretty hefty engine. Then it became balky. Symptoms like your Bolen Mower — VERY hard to start when cold, but easy when warm. I threw out my back several times yanking on that damned cord!

    Finally it wouldn’t start at all. I REALLY threw out my back trying! When I had healed up, I took the tiller to a local dealer with a repair shop. Turned out the carburetor was gummed up from sitting over the winter with gas in it. A thorough cleaning was all it took, and the engine would start up within three pulls every time.

    Moral: You might need an adjustment by someone other than your chiropractor, to prevent future visits to said healer. As in, an adjustment to your mower. Or maybe you just need a new mower with an electric start!

    (I hate the thought of you unable to play golf now that your area’s short summer season has begun! Not to rub it in, or anything… :) )

  8. Kirsten says:

    The thing is, John, it NEVER started easily — not from the first time I tried it, when it was brand new out of the box . . .

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