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How Nvidia's Troubles Reflect A Troubling Trend

Updated on January 31, 2009

No matter what our age, we have all noticed that the consumer industry standards that were once taken for granted, such as:

  • Honesty
  • Respect
  • Value
  • Politeness
  • Service
  • Guarantee
  • Quality
  • Craftsmanship
  • Courtesy

...and more have gone the way of the Dodobird and the McRib Sandwich. Where store clerks would once address you with deference, they now inform you that you're bugging them. Where waiters would once treat you like royalty, they now throw food at you and badmouth you if you don't leave a 20% tip. Where a product could be counted upon to work correctly or be swiftly repaired/replaced in your home, you now get to push 3 for RMA.

This is not just a hypothetical, generalized occurrence. Here are just some of my very own recent experiences with the world of products and services:

  • My new 8 GB mp3 player died after about three operating hours: The screen's backlight is gone.
  • My new Microsoft Intellimouse just died too.
  • The checkout girl at the supermarket keyed in $5347.00 for a $53.47 credit card grocery purchase.
  • My cell phone stopped receiving calls three days ago. I just found out ALL cell phones in my area have the same problem.
  • I just discovered that when they built my place the gas company connected my meter to next door's. I've been paying his much higher gas bill since I've been here.
  • The cable company has to come over on Monday as the converter box is no longer "talking" to their system.
  • My furniture rental company sent me a "temporary" dining room set while we awaited the delivery of my chosen model from 300 miles away. 3 months later it's still not here.
  • The same furniture rental company damaged over half the furniture before I got it.
  • My optometrist charged me $85 for an eye test and gave me a prescription with a critical missing number.
  • My last bottle of windshield washer fluid was moldy and now my car smells of gorgonzola.
  • My new Magic Bullet's motor was not screwed in right, so it torqued the impeller plate until it shattered.

Just in case you think that it's just me who walks around under a permanent cloud, allow me to share some recent experiences of various acquaintances:

  • The throttle body of Mr. A's new Chevrolet froze solid and open last winter while at over 60 mph on a highway.
  • Workers replacing roof shingles on Ms. B's apartment dropped thousands of rusty nails on the kids playground below.
  • Mr. C bought a big screen TV, took it home and found it DOA. He returned it and got another one: DOA. And his third one was... yeah... DOA.
  • The blood sugar tester was erroneously telling Ms. D that her levels were low, so she was continuing to eat carbs. She almost went into a diabetic coma.
  • Mr. E was developing some land in a valley. The city made him put in a multi-million dollar total overkill drainage system since the city's storm sewers in the hills above are too small and overflow into the valley, flooding it.
  • The phone company cut off Mr. F's landline because the person at his previous residence didn't pay their bill.
  • Mr. G purchased a Chinese ATV for his kids. The engine seized the first day. Shipping it to the country's only repair outlet costs more than the purchase price.
  • A lakefront RV leasehold on First Nations land was firmly and legally contracted at $4,000 a year for ten years. The third year it got bumped to $6,000. The fifth year $10,000. By the eighth year when they wanted $24,000, Mr. H moved out.
  • Ms. I didn't like the look of the Jello on her hospital tray. She left it. She got the same one back the next day. She cut it up to mark it. She got it back the next day. She put toothpaste on it. She got it back the next day with the toothpaste.

What the heck is happening here? The world where I grew up in, the vast majority of people would take pride in craftsmanship and honest service. They stood behind their products and worked hard to make sure that they were the best that they could be. As a population we are spending more than ever before on products and services and getting less than ever before... and this ratio is increasing every day!

OK, so what does this avalanche of ineptitude have to do with computers? Well, it seems that Nvidia managed to issue two entire series of GPUs named G84 and G86, that were horrifically faulty. Recent reports show that the G92 and G94 parts may be suffering a similar problem. The humiliating issue of AMD's abortive Barcelona release has been discussed in my Hubs ad nauseum. Apple's iPhone 3G couldn't be activated for days. Hybrid hard drives were supposed to be the killer peripheral that would allow Vista to soar, but it turned out they provided little benefit and nobody wanted to spend the extra money for them. Yes, then of course, there's Vista... The less said about this misbegotten cobbled-together waste of code the better.

In the PC tech field a completely unsustainable business model has taken hold. Product cycles which were once measured in years are now down to mere weeks. Companies are struggling to throw the newest product out the door to feed the ADHD mentality of buyers who want to buy something 50% better than was available yesterday, and at half the price!

This spiral cannot continue. The PC technology field is ripe for a Malthusian Catastrophe of unimaginable scale. R&D and manufacturing cannot possibly keep this breakneck pace without running into disasters that would dwarf Nvidia's G84/G86/G92/G94. Computer components are far more complex than they ever have been and the pressures to get them out tomorrow morning at a price that would barely buy you a fast food lunch have created an untenable situation.

You cannot blame the consumers as they just want more more more for less less less. The question is: will it take the bankruptcy of some major PC technology players before the industry learns to slow down... for its own sake?


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    • Shadesbreath profile image

      Shadesbreath 9 years ago from California

      It's greed and selfishness behind it.  The death of religion; the elimination of accountability (punishment) for children; and a legal system that is complex, manipulatable and absurd have removed consequences for selfishness and greed that used to at least be marginally in place.  There is simply no penalty for putting out horrific products or giving terrible service. Consumers keep eating at those restaurants, going to those hospitals and buying those video cards.  Until there is a penalty, expect bad food and crappy computers.

    • Hal Licino profile image

      Hal Licino 9 years ago from Toronto

      I had one rather unpleasant run in with the Gendarmerie when I was exceeding the speed limit on a rural highway near Lyon by 8 kph. That was more than enough to convince me to give the French Police a wide berth. Believe it or not, I was speaking French when I was spit on. The garcon took exception to my Quebecois French accent, said something about how I engaged in intercourse with Cheval, and then expectorated. If several people had not restrained me, he would have been expectorating from a tube for the rest of his life. :) Vista SP1 has fixed a lot of the problems that the first NotReadyForReleaseCandidate had, but my major beef against it is that it is just far too great of a resource hog for the vast majority of PCs out there. Thanks for your comment and Vive Le Quebec Libre... actually NOT! :)

    • DaveHarris profile image

      DaveHarris 9 years ago from London, UK

      Hal, if that happens to you again in Paris and there's a witness, call a cop. It's illegal and classed as a serious assault as it is in most of Europe. I have to admit I have never had bad service in France but then I speak enough French so I don't need to use English in an eaterie. Sadly, it makes all the difference.

      I also have to agree about Vista. Watching Microsoft make the same mistakes as IBM did with OS/MVT etc 30 years ago is not funny. Vista is a nightmare IMO. Whilst probably 99% of people use it without too many problems - or at least nothing they care to shout about - the remaining one percent suffer. And 1 in 100 is far too high!

      Sadly, I haev to agere with pretty much everything you've said about service, quality, etc. In the UK, the change in name from "shop assistant" to "sales adviser" says it all :{

    • Hal Licino profile image

      Hal Licino 9 years ago from Toronto

      dafla: I foolishly purchased a Compaq but it was a later HP version. WHAT A POS! It's long gone now... some suck... um... purchaser is enjoying it now. I was completely honest with him and told him why I was selling it. He thought I was crazy and was very happy to buy it. Good luck to him! :)

      Jerilee Wei: I think that the only way to fight back is to give 'em hell long and hard. Whenever we as consumers come up against pure incompetence, we should fight back and let our voices be heard! I purchased two air conditioners a while back. They were on sale at a great price, but I soon discovered that meant that the internals were cheap Chinese junk. They started to lose cooling power day by day until about two months later they were both blowing barely cool air. I screamed and yelled directly at the chain store's HQ and sure enough, I soon got two NEW A/Cs from a MAJOR NAME brand and rated 20% HIGHER in BTU capacity with a retail price of nearly double the ones I purchased. And I got them AT NO COST. The lesson is: you can make them stand up and MAKE IT RIGHT, but you have to kvetch a LOT! :)

    • Jerilee Wei profile image

      Jerilee Wei 9 years ago from United States

      Reading you hub made my day! I was thinking it was only me that these things happen to. Actually, that's what my grown children tell me. It's depressing but you are so right. So what do we do to fight back?

    • profile image

      dafla 9 years ago

      And people wonder why I keep my old Compaq PC, which was built while Compaq was still a name you could trust, before HP took them over.

    • Hal Licino profile image

      Hal Licino 9 years ago from Toronto

      I was in Paris which is renowned for having the rudest customer service in the world, but I was amazed (and then some) when a garcon at a Left Bank Bistro actually SPAT on me! :( Let's send Steve Ballmer to what he's really best suited for! NYC SEWER CLEANING! :)

    • Chef Jeff profile image

      Chef Jeff 9 years ago from Universe, Milky Way, Outer Arm, Sol, Earth, Western Hemisphere, North America, Illinois, Chicago.

      I agree 100%! Customer service almost completely no longer exists! On the rare occasion I find someone who gives a darn, I rejoice!

      As for VISTA - it stinks! Whoever thought it up and then sent it forward for production should be relegated to community service cleaning sewers in N.Y.C.!!!

    • Hal Licino profile image

      Hal Licino 9 years ago from Toronto

      Well, then! Hang 10 and shaka, brah! :)

    • funride profile image

      Ricardo Nunes 9 years ago from Portugal

      It´s a Nvidia nforce but I´m not sure which one. But it´s running smooth right now :) . Maybe I´m surfing on a good luck "wave" :D

    • Hal Licino profile image

      Hal Licino 9 years ago from Toronto

      Hi, Funride. I have fun ALL the time! :) Which Nvidia card is it? It may or may not be a common problem.

    • funride profile image

      Ricardo Nunes 9 years ago from Portugal

      Now I´m worried, I have a Nvidia vc and since yesterday I keep seeing this vertical yellow line on my screen :( . I just hope this isn´t the beginning of a bad luck odyssey like your´s LOL. Yes, I want to believe it was just a "wave" of bad luck that will go way from your live very soon ;)

      Good luck, and don´t forget to Have Fun!

    • Hal Licino profile image

      Hal Licino 9 years ago from Toronto

      I have a friend who spent eight days in the hospital after eating tainted food... at a $40/entree restaurant! It seems that some of the more expensive restaurants are actually the dirtiest behind the scenes! YUCK! Nvidia's QC has gone down immeasurably, but then again, so has pretty well every other manufacturer's!

    • profile image

      Adam York 9 years ago

      I had similar experiences to and unfortunately I had a Nvidia video card that died. You mentioned restaurants but not about the carelessness of placing dirty dishes on the table. Just last night we sat down to eat and the silverware was washed but also caked with baked on food. Yuck!

    • Hal Licino profile image

      Hal Licino 9 years ago from Toronto

      Thanks, Earth Angel! I appreciate your comments and the very kind words!

    • Earth Angel profile image

      Earth Angel 9 years ago

      GREAT Hub Hal!! My smiles and laughter come from sooooooooooo many truths!! Equally sad!! Thank you for putting words to a landslide of mediocrity!! Blessings always, Earth Angel!!