It seems that great customer service comes with an environmental cost – BDStory

It’s a good day when you get a free replacement for something that’s broken. For me it was a new controller. My old controller had its right stick broken off in my bag. Despite the protruding nub breaking off, the analog mechanism still worked – so I contacted the manufacturer for a replacement stick, and instead they sent me a very nice and very new replacement. The thing is, like Carrie’s Sex and the city, I didn’t want a replacement Blueberry iBook, Aiden! I just want my PowerBook repaired.

Do not get me wrong. Of course, I’m just as thankful for the replacement as I am for the Thanksgiving turkey I’m still digesting. But my request to customer service wasn’t for a replacement – it was for a part. I inquired about the part again, but they told me to just throw the broken controller away. Not a fan of wasting a good controller, I went to eBay and found a broken one that I could buy parts from. Once I got that in, it only took 11 screws and I was able to harvest my joystick.

I opened up the donor controller I bought on eBay for $15 and harvested the joystick part I needed.

I opened up the donor controller I bought on eBay for $15 and harvested the joystick part I needed.
Image: Umar Shakir / BDStory

Sure, it took some time and patience on my part to figure out which donor to get, wait for slower shipping from eBay sellers, and then actually fix it. So I can see how a quick and easy replacement controller would be better for most. I can also sit here and say that this repair job is super easy, but for many, disassembling something can be a scary task. But I’m still trying to cut down on waste here, don’t make more.

Imagine your car needs to be replaced when a hose leaks. That’s basically what an increasing number of electronics manufacturers expect from you every time a keyboard bar breaks or a joystick breaks, and the right-to-repair lobby is just beginning to turn the tide. Replacement parts for this controller, like so many electronics out there, are not always easy to find.

I get the flip side too: great customer service is key to customer retention. For a company trying to build a reputation for standing behind its products, prompt replacements will always generate positive feedback. Megacorps like Amazon offer fast refunds for stuff – sometimes they don’t even ask to return the old item. And Apple offers AppleCare customers fast exchanges, recently allowing “unlimited” replacements for accidental damage. Many people reap the benefits by not dealing with a repair process.

For me, though, it’s about the repair process. I accepted the replacement controller, got a donor controller and after my self repair I now have two working controllers. That’s a win for me and a small win for the environment. And now I’m wondering what the donor controller needs to get back to work.

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