101 Dumbest Moments In Business
Business 2.0 as "awarded" the Kryptonite/Bic pen situation the "Overall Grand Prize Winner" in their 101 Dumbest Moments In Business:
Perhaps the BIC/Kryptonite story will someday be viewed as one of the "101 Dumbest Moments in Journalism".
The national media was very quick to give publicity to the fact that SOME people had success with opening SOME Kryptonite locks with a BIC pen. But, it was only the student journalists at college papers who took the time to ask the more important questions. Large college campuses are popular with bike thiefs, because thousands of bikes are available every day. A "customer" wants a Trek OCLV model..a couple hours at "Mega-University", and a crook can locate the correct bike in the correct size.
So, college journalists went to the police chief. "Are the number of bikes stolen during Fall semester 2004 going up?" Uh, no. Thefts on campus are level or down compared with recent years. "Has any bike been stolen using a BIC pen?" No. There is not a single proven, documented case of a bike being stolen using a BIC pen. Too many bikes still using $5 chains or $20 cable locks for any crook to bother with a Kryptonite lock. And REAL crooks have methods of attacking U-locks that are faster and more reliable than picking with a plastic pen.
And, the "mass" media missed the BIG story. For the first time in memory, an American company agreed to replace EVERY one of its products. No receipt necessary. Postage paid both ways. Customer gets a brand new lock at zero cost to the customer.
Ask the folks who discovered that their Ford F-150 could catch fire how long they will be waiting for a new cruise control module. And, ask owners of the BIC lighter of autos, the Ford Pinto, how long they waited for a "recall"...(Answer, they will be waiting until hell freezes over).
And, the "mass" media ignores that fact that TODAY, Wal-Mart and K-Mart continue to sell round-key locks sold by Master Lock and other companies. Kryptonite has been the "good guy" and Master Lock, and other companies continue to be the "bad guy", but telling the truth has become the lowest priority of modern journalism. So, the companies that sell LETHAL products and drag their feet on recalls get off the hook, and a company that does the right thing is getting raked over the coals.
Krypto had or was poised to corner the market in 92 when this flaw was pointed out to them. If they had a dumbest moment in business it was not doing something about it then and saving themselves millions of dollars in the long run. It's not like they were the only ones that knew either, people in the messenger community knew about this flaw for a long time and kept it among themselves because Krypto protected uniformly against conventional methods of theft better than the competition and the name recognition provided excellent deterrent. Krypto also occasionally supported their racing events in small ways. People in the lock industry knew about it too of course.
If anyone was as disappointed as Krypto in the public reaction to weak, "look at me, I'm nobody" bloggers and attention craving forum flys posting videos of what they'd discovered from whispers or too much time on their hands it was their friends in the messenger community. There was much debate but it was quickly decided based partly on the final draft of the return policy that the community stand behind Kryptonite and place the blame squarely where it belonged, on whiny lil busybodies!