Yeah, armchair pundit time again.
You might have read, a few days ago, Gibson’s CEO Henry Juszkiewicz gave his opinion on the public’s perception of quality control at his organisation.
Juszkiewicz was speaking with Guitarist Magazine, in an interview published in their August 2018 issue. Some extracts were posted on Music Radar (which shares a publisher with Guitarist Mag) and you can read them there now. It’s also been widely quoted in many places since.
Asked about accusations that Gibson’s quality control has been poor in recent years, Juszkiewicz responded,
“Well, to quote some politicians, I would say that’s ‘fake news’.”
He went on to say, “It’s easy for people to troll on the internet, but you’re in the media and I think you’re probably more aware than most folks about the negativity that exists and, sometimes, the lack of truth in that negativity.”
Leaving aside the fact that I clench up a little when someone uses the term ‘fake news’, I find this worrying.
Some small benefit of the doubt
Before going on, I'll nail my colours to the mast and say that I have personally experienced more quality issues on new Gibson guitars than any other brand over the last ten to fifteen years. I’ve spoken about this before a number of times. That said, I am very conscious that I’m an empirical sample-size of one.
Of course, you don’t have to look far online to find stories of quality issues. But, of course (again), you can’t always trust everyone posting online.
My experience speaking with other repairers and music shop staff, (who see a lot of instruments) leads me to believe even the most stalwart Gibson fan amongst them feels that quality control is lacking.
We would all do well to remember that the plural of anecdote is not evidence. My views on a lack quality control don’t make it a fact. Other’s views don’t make it a fact.
However, they certainly do add up to a perception. And, even if that perception’s incorrect, dismissing it as ‘fake news’ seems short-sighted and more than a little condescending.
If there are quality issues
Let’s assume that I’m right (always good). Let’s assume that those making claims of quality problems are right. Let’s consider Juszkiewicz’s comments in that light.
Either Juszkiewicz is aware there are issues and is lying — he’s pretending it’s just some ‘trolls’ whinging and essentially blaming customers for spreading unfair falsehoods about his company…
Or, Juszkiewicz is completely unaware of quality issues and really believes the negativity is really just some sort of troll conspiracy.
Let’s face it, neither of these options really instils confidence in a CEO’s handling of a fair question.
And it is a fair question because…
If there actually are no quality issues
Even if quality control is perfect, there is the perception of quality problems at Gibson.
And, I don’t really want a CEO to just dismiss even that perception. Even if he really is justified in doing so, shrugging it off like this fails to properly address it. I want a CEO that owns the perception. I want something like, “I’m aware that there’s a perception that we’re not pulling our weight on quality. I believe this isn’t a fair judgement of our people’s efforts, but you can bet your ass we’re going to work even harder to put this belief to bed. We’re starting by doing blah, blah, blah.”
Fake news claims don’t fill me with confidence that the claimant has their house in order.