Old Navy does it again…

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Old Navy is in the spotlight again for failure to note quality defects prior to shipment.  This time, the defect was another sports related content error where the Houston Texans were said to be 1961 AFC Champions, when in fact it was the Houston Oilers.

From my days working with HSN in particular, I can sympathize with how this type of oversight could occur.  At HSN, even with the most knowledgable and dedicated QA evaluators, there were one or two issues to escape the process somehow.  I can remember a QA evaluator that noted issues with Jesus and the Apostles on a clock that was submitted for evaluation.  Old Navy needs people like that!

Of course, this error and the far majority of errors are noticed prior to the product’s approval.  And, it’s also where on-site QC inspections can really save the day.  Detailed product specifications, the right people and good supplier relationships are the secret sauce to avoiding what Old Navy is going through.

What I found aggravating about the Old Navy situation though is two things:

Fool me once, shame on you… 

I can’t say for sure, but I’m betting this is the same supplier from the error noted earlier in the year.  Either way, if something happens once, the idea is obviously to avoid a repeat occurrence.  A company like Gap, Inc. can’t say they don’t have the resources to get it right.  In fact, I can recall a few other times Gap, Inc. has been called out on QA/QC issues.  Twice in one year is pretty silly though.

The blame game never works.

Pick up any management, quality or communications book and you’re likely going to find something about accepting responsibility when things go wrong.  Just think BP, or even Ford/Firestone here.  The official comment from Gap, Inc. in this case is…

“The NFL clothing sold in our Old Navy stores is created by a third party sports licensing company,” said Edie Kissko, a spokesperson for Gap Inc. “It is our intention to always provide the best merchandise to our customers and NFL fans. We apologize for this error and are removing the T-shirts.”

As a consumer, I appreciate the apology and that they’re removing the defective merchandise.  That’s wonderful.  But, instead of blaming the “third-party,” they should have just accepted that an error was made and committed to resolving the problem and avoiding future issues.  Johnson & Johnson can certainly attest to this strategy.

Hearing about this really took me back to those days with the HSN quality crew.  I’ve found people in quality generally have a passion for it, which is true for HSN.  Meeting or exceeding the expectations of customers is taken personally to the QA peeps there.

I also know that playing nice with vendors and suppliers isn’t always easy, but it is necessary if you want to get it right.  Working together instead of blaming each other just makes the problem(s) worse.

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