Half Of All Gadgets Returned To Stores Actually Work

Even the most technologically inclined amongst us encounter products so overly bedecked with buttons and features that we can't imagine how normal people could possibly use them, and it turns out we're right and they actually can't:

More and more, Americans are being caught in a dilemma: They love electronic gadgets with lots of bells and whistles. But they're also frustrated when they get their new toys home and find out they aren't easy to install or operate. Half the products returned to stores are in good working order, but customers can't figure out how they work, says a recent study conducted at the Technical University of Eindhoven in the Netherlands. On average, American consumers will try for just 20 minutes to get a new gadget to work before giving up, the study adds.

Okay, so we're gadget-obsessed, but twenty minutes? That seems a little too fast to give up on getting something to work, especially when you consider how long it probably takes the average person to drive to the mall, find a parking spot and get into the store to buy or return something. We thought it was interesting that the Best Buy supervisor interviewed in the piece said customers tend to take products home again instead of returning them if they let employees show them how to use them. Some kinds of gadgets are more poorly designed (and have more poorly written manuals) than others, and so we'd love to see a chart of the percentage of working return rates broken down into categories, maybe even brands.

Has any product's learning curve tested your patience recently? Share your frustration in comments.

(Photo by John Hartnup)

A fast rate of return [Christian Science Monitor, via The Morning News]