It would seem to be that one of the rules in life is that when you’re looking for something, it’s nowhere to be found. And when you don’t need it, it seems to be everywhere you turn. In my case, this has occurred a number of times with regard to user manuals. Thankfully, most manufacturers now have downloadable manuals on their sites. However, as I’ve discovered, sometimes it may be easier to turn your house upside-down one more time than try to navigate some websites.
Here are some of the experiences I’ve had in the past20 months or so. I chose the Italian versions of the websites because they are usually more disastrous some appliances are country-specific.
Appliance: Fridge. Manufacturer: Candy
Why do I need the manual? I need to defrost the fridge (in the picture on the left), but I can’t get to the power switch. This isn’t an unusual situation, so maybe it has been addressed in the user manual.
Description of homepage: Candy Italia’s homepage (screenshot) isn’t that bad from a design point of view. I have a problem with the disembodied woman in the top left, though. I’d probably add that it is a little too full of information. Some breathing room (aka whitespace) wouldn’t be a bad idea.
Is there a link to a manuals section on the homepage? Yes, on the left.
What are the additional steps to take to get the manual I want? The link takes me to a daunting page where I’m asked to choose the type of appliance and its product code. After inserting my head in the fridge, I get the product code and return to the very long drop-down. Eureka! I find it!
Did I get the manual? My excitement is short-lived, as I’m presented with another screen telling me that the manual I seek isn’t available online. If I’d like a copy, I could fill in a form inserting my full name, postal address, email address and phone number.
Verdict: Tear up the house one more time. I’m not giving them any personal information in exchange for a measly booklet.
Appliance: Fridge. Manufacturer: Bosch
Why do I need the manual? I need to remove the oven door in order to clean it more effectively.
Description of homepage: A consumer visiting the Bosch Italia homepage (screenshot) for the first time may be more than a little confused. The largest item at the top is how to join the Junior Managers Program. A separate site/subdomain for corporate stuff is in order here?
Is there a link to a manuals section on the homepage? No there isn’t, but there’s a link to home appliances.
What are the additional steps to take to get the manual I want? The link on the previous page takes me to a bland page with a link to ‘catalogues and user manuals’ in the main navigation. That in turn takes me to another page with a link to ‘Find user manuals’. I’m still hopeful, so I click on it and find myself being asked to enter the product code. Points to them for a sidebar with the question, “Where do I find the product code?” For me, this involved literally bending over backwards.
Did I get the manual? No. The manual isn’t available. Still confident in German engineering, I decide to look at the ovens section and see if I can find one that looks like ours. I do, and click on the link to download its manual. I get this screen. When will manufacturers learn that consumers generally don’t care about alphanumeric codes? (At least I don’t, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.)
Verdict: Tear up the house one more time. (I must add, however, that on a previous occasion I was able to download the manual. Maybe they discontinued the model…)
Appliance: Buzzer. Manufacturer: Elvox
Why do I need the manual? I need to know how to put name tags under the protective plastic covering, as a courtesy to the postman.
Description of homepage: Whitespace, a grid-based layout and a muted palette… What’s not to like? View screenshot.
Is there a link to a manuals section on the homepage? Not exactly, though there’s a link to ‘Documentation’ which is near enough.
What are the additional steps to take to get the manual I want? I’m taken to a page that gives me a choice between product documentation and institutional documentation. I end up on a (well-organised) page with links to brochures, catalogues and templates for name tags.
Did I get the manual? I click around, but I soon realise that they have only the latest, shiniest models listed and not the pedestrian type like what we have.
Verdict: Hope that the postman doesn’t mind.