50% of 'faulty' products baffle users

Written by Wil Harris

March 6, 2006 | 17:46

Tags: #complexity #eindhoven #faulty #interface #products #university

Companies: #apple

More than half of all electronics products returned to stores as faulty have nothing wrong with them, a new study has shown.

The majority of hardware returns are caused not by dodgy products, but by users who are unable to fathom how to operate a device.

The study, carried out by Elke den Ouden for her thesis at Eindhoven University in Holland, found that American users will struggle with a device for 20 minutes before giving up and reaching the conclusion that the kit is broken.

Although some companies like Apple have advocated a 'back to basics' approach to physical and software interface design, other companies are baffling users with an assortment of buttons and menus.

As part of her research, she gave several Phillips electronic devices to management executives who actually worked for Phillips, then laughed (Don't you mean avidly observed? - Ed) as they spent a weekend unable to work out what to do with them.

Of course, most bit-tech readers will no doubt be well aware of the failings of the general populous, with many of us acting as first line technical support for technologically illiterate friends, family and co-workers.

What's the most stupidly complicated bit of kit you've ever used? Do you have any amusing tech support stories? Let us know what you think in the News Forum.
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