Some Assembly Required

I got a call from friend the other day. The entire conversation was focused on the crappy instructions that he got with a very expensive garage lift. Turns out, after getting most of the unit assembled and in position, he discovered that certain steps in the assembly guide were assumed and not documented. This required some backtracking to fix the mistake and get the lift to work properly.
This got me to thinking and recalling my own experiences with out of the box manufacturer assembly instructions.

I remember, as a teen, working at a major department chain store at an after school job. Weekdays I spend my time as a gopher running errands, stocking shelves with merchandise and fixing whatever was broken. Weekends were a different story as I spent my time assembling all the bikes, swing sets, barbeques and other stuff that had to be put together for eager shoppers.

I spent many weekends at work, parts spread out on the floor around me, flipping pages upside down and right side up, scouring the floor around me, looking for that elusive part that would connect A, B and G together for a new swing set. I would often wonder who the brainiac was that scratched together the unintelligible guide and if they had ever seen the swing set or even tried to put it together using their own instructions. Or, at the very least, watched someone attempt the same feat using said instructions.

I look back fondly on those days (they were care free) and wonder why technology hasn't really improved that part of our lives. The last barbeque that I bought and assembled was not that long ago and the process has not changed much from when I was a kid. The instructions are just as vague and include those hard to understand drawings and technical schematics. I understand that keeping expenses down are key to getting these products to market but does it really cost that much for a company to provide an easy to understand set of instructions? I mean, really....

It seems to me that the best aid for the average consumer is the Internet and not the manufacturer. It is relatively easy to find someone who has posted a video, blog or forum post with detailed instructions. I just wish that these companies would hire a tech savvy person to copy and paste these URLs to the front page of the instructions. Or even pay the author for the rights to include them in the box. Until then, I will continue to look to the Internet for the real instructions.....

1 comments Links to this post

Michelle said...

I think the problem is that the place of manufacturing is disjointed. The developer is separate from the manufacturer which is separate from the person that makes the instructions. I had a similar job to you in my teen years, and I consider myself pretty good at putting things together... I have no problem with the instructions for the most part. EXCEPT when the pieces are wrong, which is quite common at one store in particular (ahem RONA).