Beware of half truths, you may have gotten hold of the wrong half
For the past 20 years I have been involved in designing, manufacturing and promoting outdoor furniture products and self-stabilising tables. What ever I designed and produced, I have made sure that the products complied or comply with minimum prescribed safety standards. Recently I came across an advert that claims to have the solution for wobbly tables. In their advert they made several claims trying to give their self-stabilising tables credibility. Most of these claims (if not all) are based on “half-truths”.
What is a half-truth? It is only disclosing the good bits about their product(s) and fail and keep silent about the not so good bits. Should this marketing practice be allowed?
Well it got my back up immediately as I personally believe that this is dishonest marketing by not fully disclosing what the product is capable of doing, especially if its related to product safety.
As marketers we all like to believe that we have the best product. So what ever one claims about product, it should be backed by facts. I guess that is the engineer in me. Tell it like it is. Unfortunately many, marketers don’t have any scruples and will say anything (or non disclose) to promote their product(s).
GyroBases (Gyro) is my self-stabilising table base product that I developed and now promote.
You can say that Gyro was “born” in the restaurant industry, as the product features that where designed into Gyro where based on first hand experience obtained through designing and supplying products to hospitality industry.
Gyro is not a system that was a “bright idea” and then found its way into restaurants. GyroBases where developed for restaurants. Gyro is not just another solution for a wobbly table, as it addresses issues such as safety, strength, durability and functionality. I call it the Total Solution.
Every aspect of a Gyro base, whether it’s the hardware or the polymer used on the feet, each and every aspect of each part of the base was/is evaluated for durability, wear resistance, corrosion resistance and strength. There is no quick fix solution to any problem. If you are going to come up with a solution to a problem, do it properly.
When designing self-stabilising tables, it’s best practise to consider the safety of the end user. Many manufacturers ignore safety, as furniture safety is not enforced by many government agencies. Safety tends to add to product costs. That is why there are so many “mediocre” products on the market with no structural stability, as many importers ignore local regulations (the ones that are not rigorously enforced) and put profit above safety.
Gyro products are designed with the required safety standards as prescribed by international safety standard agencies.
I believe that through many years experience, that I have a good understanding what is required to produce durable and safe tables for restaurants.
So when I see an advert that is promoting a product, you can understand where I am coming from when I get a little “upset” about marketing half-truths.
Many readers of this article would say that I am biased if I criticise my competitors’ products, however, if that criticism is based on fact, then it cannot be a biased opinion.
Here are a few marketing “half-truths” claims that recently surfaced and get my back up tight.
Claim 1: “Our self-stabilising tables are the only true self-stabilising mechanism on the market that requires no human intervention”.
Where did they get this from? It’s utter rubbish.
There are other self-stabilising tables on the market such as NO-Rock, Flattech and Gyro. All of these systems can and will stabilise without any human intervention.
That’s it, myth debunked, or lets put it this way, the half-truth debunked.
Here is the full truth, which they do not want you to know about. If they did disclose it, this is what it would say,
“Our system is the only true self-stabilising mechanism on the market that requires no human intervention, so long the force/load that is applied acts through the centre of the table top and not the side of the table top.
For obvious reason the full disclosure of the products functionality will not sell the product, so that gets conveniently omitted.
The force/load that is applied to the centre of the table is not a “destabilising” force. Its obvious the table will not topple and will be stable. A destabilising force is a force that is applied to the side of the table that causes toppling of the table. We all know that loads applied to tables under real working conditions are never uniformly applied, nor are the loads applied directly to the centre of the table. As soon as you apply an off-centre force tables become unstable and tend to topple.
There is a prescribed safety test. According to European (EU) and British Safety (BS) Standards, a table used in a commercial environment must not topple when a 20kg load is applied 50mm from the edge of the table top. (see sketch).
Which of the self-stabilising table bases currently on the market comply with the above? I am prepared to say that the only base that does comply is Gyro.
With Gyro table bases there is a moving leg (the stabilising leg) which needs to be locked in place. If this lock is applied, the table will not topple if an off-centre load is applied. The lock is automatically applied, however it needs “human intervention” to unlock the lock to let the legs stabilise. A very simple and robust mechanism which works well.
Gyro passes the EU/BS test for toppling stability.
Claim 2: “Our system has been Durability Tested”
If you make a claim like this, then substantiate it with what or how the testing was conducted on the product. If you got nothing to hide, then disclose it.
From my past experiences, in order to test a product thoroughly, the best test is the “field test”, however this takes time, so marketers try an come up with another “cock-‘n-bull” story to add some sort of credibility to their product.
Yes, you can test a product in the laboratory, however any laboratory simulated or accelerated tests will only give you an indication how long a product should last. Often product failures are a combination of different components wearing and/or weathering independently. Its impossible to replicate these conditions in the laboratory accurately.
There are European and British Standards which prescribe “durability” and safety testing, however to pass this test your table must pass the off-centre load test as described in claim 1 above. So how many self-stabilising tables on the market actually comply to any recognised durability testing? Gyro does.
What these standards do not test, is the corrosion resistance and the wear resistance of materials. So your product could be suitable and “fit-for-purpose” on day one (when it’s new), however if it corrodes and falls to pieces over a period of time, it will fail. So the only real test that is reliable is the field test and this takes time.
Gyro has passed all the tests as described or set by the various standards, and the first Gyro was placed out in the field 10 years ago and is still 100% functional. I guess Gyro stood the test of time.
Claim 3 – “Our self-stabilising tables have won awards and other accolades”
Any award is a good marketing tool. It gives the product “credibility”, however, one should always take a careful look at the awards that the product has been awarded with.
Do these awards make it a better product or safer to use?
Imagine the “car-of-the-year award” being awarded to a vehicle that does not have a 5-star safety rating. It would not give the award any credibility.
Many design awards for certain products do not evaluate the safety aspect of a product and only evaluate the aesthetics and/or functionality of a product. It can sometime be referred to a “great idea” award.
Claim 4 – “Our self-stabilising tables can stabilise on just about any surface”
What is “just about any surface”? That tells you nothing.
There is no prescribed test nor a industry standard which determines the performance of a self-stabilising table base.
I have seen self-stabilising systems fail on fairly “level” or even sidewalks.
When buying a self-stabilising table base system look at how much the feet can move by. Most systems only move by +-5mm. Yes that is a total of 10mm. That is not enough, unless you have a very flat floor.
With Gyro we developed the system to work on outdoor floors, such as cobblestones. With cobblestones you can have a variance of up to 20mm, so we developed the Gyro to have 40mm variance in its feet, just to make sure that we cover “just about any surface”.
The above are only a few examples on underhanded tactics marketers use to promote their self-stabilising tables.
Whether to only tell the consumer the “half-truths” is acceptable or not is debatable. I suppose that is a half-truth is not a “lie” and marketers can get away with it, whether it is right or wrong.
I believe in absolute honesty up front.
There are companies out there that continue to promote products, with the full knowledge that their product(s) do not meet necessary safety requirements or standards. I have personally pointed out to a retailer that a competitor’s product is not safe, yet they continue to promote the unsafe product.
These unscrupulous companies put profit before safety.
Should there not be a law protecting the general public against these companies?