All Goods Worth Price Charged: The Whiskey Standard

“All Goods Worth Price Charged”. Or so says Jack Daniels.

Almost sounds kind of silly, doesn’t it? I mean, what sort of claim is THAT to make? You’re pre-emptively telling us to keep any complaints to ourselves if we moan and groan about the price or quality of a product? How rude! Hang on a sec. Let’s think about this for a moment….

Jack Daniels, the mighty purveyor of Tennessee’s pride and joy – whiskey (as if you didn’t know!) – has been making this claim since 1907, imprinting the tagline on boxes, bottles, shipping containers, etc. Of course the market back in the day was much simpler and with less competition, with a marketing effort much less involved than what we see today. Still, the fact that JD found that they COULD feel comfortable to so publicly make this claim speaks volumes about the confidence in quality and service that the good Daniels folk were offering.

“Here it is. It is what it is. It’s what you chose to buy. And you’ll love it.”

Let’s jump ahead now to the present day. Actually, let’s step back a bit to the 90’s, where we were more widely introduced to a technological offering we hadn’t seen before….the broken product that we buy knowing it’s broken. (I’m not even going to mention the cheap materials used in manufacturing goods too!)

Isn’t that how certain operating systems and software chose to present themselves? “Here you go – our latest operating system version! Have fun and stand by for something we call a “service pack” that’ll fix all of the things we KNOW are wrong with it!” Um, ok.

Of course, there are numerous factors at play here – a company’s desire to rush something to market, the affect on a balance sheet, a response to competition, etc. Nevertheless, it can be argued that it has lead to a sort of public conditioning that sees buying sub-par product as “acceptable”. So much so that when we switch our hats from “consumer” to “producer”, we have to take special care that we remain loyal to a standard that we ourselves must adopt as our own philosophy. And I don’t think any of us aspire to a goal of, “Oh well – good enough, I guess”.

Let’s talk web. The reality of web site development and deployment can sometimes dictate the equivalent of a “service pack” – the launch of a site with known issues that will be addressed at a later date in order to accommodate an aggressive timeline. Ok, fine. It happens. The challenge here, however, is for one to ask themselves throughout a project’s life if they are adhering to a standard to deliver the best product possible – whatever that may be. My personal method of measuring this came by way of an incident in my rookie-days as a UAT Analyst for a financial institution…

Although exhausted by a project’s scope and effort – a sort of “neverending project” – I found a defect in a taxation program for internal staff quite close to our expected launch date. The defect, however, had a VERY unlikely use case. Quite honestly, it was just about as close to not being repeatable as you could get. It was an extremely roundabout series of clicks and input that I came across with a complete disregard for the program’s logical use. Heck, even it’s illogical use. I pointed it out to my boss, who responded by going through the rather extended process of rejecting code with plans for revisiting after addressed. The young QA rookie – me – brought it up in a meeting that went something like this:

“John, do we really have to bother with a fix?”
“What do you mean, Claudio?”
“I mean – gee, no one’s gonna find it. The use case likelihood is almost non-existent, and we’ve been living with this test release for months. Even if it’s discovered in the field, it really has no adverse affect on the user – and all of the user’s are internal staff, no? Can we just leave it?”
“Leave it as is, huh?”
“Ok then. If my boss (the CIO) learns of it from someone out there who stumbled on it as you did and he calls me about it, I’ll just put him on hold and transfer the call to you, ok?”
“Nononononono! Let’s fix it!”

Point made. And for me – a standard set. “How willingly will I accept sub-standard quality?” Happy to say – not very.

“All goods worth price charged”. At least.

Nice one, Jack.