Quality Deterioration

Quality Deterioration

It may not seem like a big deal that my toilet paper doesn’t always tear along the perforation and if somebody led with this line, I’d probably laugh, but wait for it. As prices skyrocket, quality is deteriorating. I noticed it with potato chips too. When I buy an off brand of chips, there is an expectation that more than a few will be a bit “off” but when buying a name brand, this should be the exception and not the rule. It used to be, but not anymore. Now, the percentage of “eeewww” chips in a name brand bag is significantly higher than it was a few years ago.

What happened?

Yes, the quality dropped, but why? Is it the ever-touted employee shortage or has the quality control process been relaxed to help margins? Maybe the quality control people lack skills or training? One thing is certain, the price for these lesser quality goods has not dropped. Will quality come back?

I doubt it.

Why should it? Demand is still very high and sales are up. Why should any company add staff, provide additional training, or demand higher quality standards for products whose demand is greater than what they can currently produce? That is a tough sell: Hey boss….I need another quality FTE to meet our company standard. Boss: I’m glad you brought that up, we are cutting the quality staff so do the best you can. If current production is being sold as fast as you can make it, why worry about quality? It isn’t affecting sales.


The quality of potato chips or toilet paper is not a big deal, but when quality dribbles down into mechanical parts, chips, and other pieces-parts that keep us from getting dead, perhaps people will start to pay attention. As many have suggested, the worker quality is not the same as it once was, but neither is training, or desire. Quality issues have to be well defined and often require subjective decision making. When quality training is focused on margin, it can lose its alignment. Instead of investigating the causes of incomplete perforations or an inordinate number of bad chips, they are allowed to pass. These become the norm.

The investigatory process is damaged. The ability to trace problems is reduced. The maintenance needed to keep equipment running at peak performance is deemed unnecessary. Further staff reductions are justified. Supplier standards are relaxed or insufficiently monitored. If examined too closely, depending on the commodity, the supplier may stop supplying. It quickly becomes a slippery slope. When it happens slowly and by little bits, people tend not to notice, but at some point, they will.

Maybe by then, it won’t matter.

Categorized as Policy

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.