Sunday, December 26, 2004

Some Assembly Required

Off-shoring, or moving jobs to another country, has been a hot news topic this past year. Off-shoring is not a new phenomenon to people in the manufacturing sector, where jobs have been steadily moving to cheaper lands for several decades.

This Christmas it occurred to me that some of those manufacturing jobs are coming back, in a way. There's nothing new about the warning on the package saying, "Some Assembly Required", but it seems to me that we are being asked to do a little bit more than we used to. What am I talking about?


Yes, my memory is failing, but I seem to recall that toys of a few years ago, even when some assembly was required, were already painted or already had their stickers in place. But now every toy seems to come with at least one sheet of stickers that must be applied to complete the decoration. Many toys come with a hundred stickers! Others don't number them for fear that you'll return the toy rather than labor for hours with no pay to complete the manufacture of the toy.

So that's how manufacturing jobs are coming back to America -- as free labor putting stickers on toys.

Kudos to Mattel for having a hotline that was able to solve our first toy emergency of the holiday. My elder son's "Hot Wheels Nitro Fuelers" motorcycle wouldn't work. I called the hotline and found out that when you remove the battery cover what you see is not the holder for two AA batteries, but one side of a cartridge which must be filled with batteries — something I would have known if I had Read The Fine Instructions that came with it. The nice woman at the other end even promised not to tell my wife. :-)

No comments: