What's new
What's new

A matter of conscience


Jan 15, 2002
West Coast, USA
. . . The notion that a serious defect, that could cause a catastrophic failure, has gone unnoticed by the owners for years is hard for me to visualize. If it was real, customers would have raised hell and the owners would have addressed it. . .

Ford Pinto gas tanks (6 or so dead)?
GM ignition switches (124 dead)?
Lead in paint (millions of kids cognitively impaired)?
Asbestos (miners, installers, users with lung disease)?
Drywall in Chinese baby formula?
Firestone tires (175 dead, near 1000 injured)?
Marlboro & other cigarettes?
Cheap drill bits either too soft to last or so hard they shatter (bad heat treat, maybe steel)?
Takata airbags (my ex BMW still not fixed)?
Prescription opioids (100,000 or so dead)?
Numerous case of faked certs on materials, fasteners? Fallen bridges.
Harbor Freight propane torches (apparently just one burned)?
737 Max (346 dead)?

And on the economic loss front, most every crappy appliance (coffee grinders, drills, lawnmowers, refrigerators, dehumidifiers, heaters, cell phones, stoves, washers, dryers, dishwashers, coffee makers, toasters . . .) now built and lasting 3 years instead of 30. Add in crappy software and products we can no longer fix ourselves.

For a while I kept a small "museum" of screwed up (and US) products. One of my favorites was a "high quality" square drive screwdriver bit with nothing but a mis-stamped nub on the end. It likely passed half a dozen people, clearly visible in its blister pack, on the way to me. Another favorite was a US adjustable wrench whose selling proposition was its wide opening. Turns out it screwed up even that. Those wrenches are no longer made in the US and it's now the Taiwanese actually making stuff like that to spec.

IMO, there's a direct line between not caring about customers and quality by quick-buck-artist-CEOs and our loss of manufacturing jobs. Even without lives lost, it's still a "job killer."

Japanese and US companies were once (and some still are) on the forefront of the quality movement. Now, too many are willing to put their customers good use and sometimes their lives at risk, for a next quarter's bonus. It could well be that your experience is different at Janco, but you may be selling to private and other companies still more concerned about a reputation for quality and customer service than a quick buck?


Jul 2, 2019
You are doing the right thing here. When parts turn up in the field that is where we generally hear of the problems with things we have made. Catching it like you did is excellent. The fact that there has been no blowback from the field is significant. Is it a part easily replaced and if so can you alter the part slightly and offer it to the customer? Maybe it is better to just carry on now that the issue is corrected. That is what I would be inclined to do.


Mar 16, 2014
United States
I'm aware of the hardships that come with whistle-blowing. That's why I wanted unbiased, uncompromised takes on the situation.

The problem with all these discussions is we don't know what the part is and we don't know the consequences of a failure.

IMHO there would be a huge difference between a part in a washing machine (nobody gets hurt) or a part going into an airplane (maybe every body dies).

If it's towards the spectrum of being a washing machine part then I think you've done enough going forward. If it's an aircraft part then you have an obligation to report to the end user the possible failure of the part.

Now if it goes into equipment supplied to the government, then likely it could be considered a fraudulent transaction if a company knowlingly supplies substandard parts to the government. At that point I believe your entitled to a % of damages recovered from the company if the government decides to take action. Hopefully the reward you would recieve (if any) would compensate you for the fact your going to find it difficult finding a job going forward.


Mar 14, 2005
It's not cheap unless bought in bulk. It may not even break right away. But WILL break eventually.

Everything breaks eventually. Does the product work through the warranty period?

So far, I've just seen you describe the business plan of many (most?) producers of consumer goods, and a significant number of producers of commercial goods.