Paying for the privilege to beta test

Once upon a time, when a company was rolling out a new product, it would pay people to test the product and report any bugs or problems they experienced while using the product. Sometimes the payment was in the form of money, but most of the time, the payment was being able to keep the product. Beta testing was a large part of a new product’s rollout, and it still is; only now, consumers pay for the privilege. Buying a product when it is first introduced means a consumer could be the victim of defective products, and that can be an expensive price to pay, especially if the company is slow to make good on their promise to provide a quality product.

Houston readers probably already know that both Microsoft and Sony released gaming consoles this month. Both have been heavily anticipated and their releases led to people pre-ordering and camping out in front of stores that were getting shipments of the gaming systems. However, once people got these new systems home, set them up and prepared to use them, some were in for an unpleasant surprise. Consumers are reporting that the systems caused the screen to freeze, there were missing pixels and some consoles would not boot at all.

The desire of manufacturers to get products to the public as quickly as possible has led to the consumer becoming guinea pigs. Manufacturers are skipping the beta testing process and just building the products, leaving consumers to try and troubleshoot the mess after paying full price for the item. No free item for working with and around the bugs. No compensation for having to apply fixes and patches. These consumers are forced to do these things to protect their investment; a big advantage for manufacturers, but not so much for end-users.

However, there is nothing that says the end consumer cannot fight back when they have been presented with a defective product. Seeking a working product or a refund for the defective product are viable options. Anyone who has been the victim of a defective product can seek the advice of a legal professional to find out what rights they actually have for relief.

Source: CMS Wire, “Broken, Bound, Gagged: Customers Silenced About Defective Products” Noreen Seebacher, Nov. 25, 2013