One element common to most major catastrophes is the chain reaction failure of redundant systems. Whether we’re talking about the Challenger or Columbia disasters, drill rig disasters, railroad disasters, or even simple automobile accidents we read time and time again about a series of safety checks and systems that failed.
Not to be overly dramatic I was reminded of this when receiving a package I ordered from Amazon.com. The order was satisfied by a third party, and when it finally arrived the box appeared to have suffered water damage, but was dry. My first thought was that they reused an old and damaged box. While that didn’t make them look “good” it certainly would be understandable in today’s economy, and the box arrived in reasonable condition. Then I opened the box.
What I had ordered were toner cartridges for my HP Laser printer. While there were a few “inflatable bags” in the box to keep the 3 cartridges from shifting excessively I found, when I finally removed the cartridges from the shipping box, that they too had gotten wet. In fact, one cartridge box was soaked through, and had almost turned back in to paper “paste.” Needless to say, I was beginning to get concerned. I was wondering what impact that moisture will have on the toner cartridges.
I opened the HP box immediately, and pulled the toner cartridge out. I was quite pleased to see that HP packs their cartridges in a sealed, inflated bag. As best as I could tell, there was no water damage to the cartridge, because they had protected it so well.
In an ideal world no additional precautions would be required, but in this case I was quite pleased to see that, while a number of protective layers had “failed” due to poor handling, the final product arrived in good and usable condition.
I am curious what you, our readers, think about these redundant layers of protection. When do you see the value in these things? When would you trade off redundancy for cost? How do you ensure customer satisfaction?
Share your thoughts here, or with Steve, at his email address email@example.com