Better and better

“The reliability of a product is understood to be how verlässlich (reliable, sound, solid, trustworthy, sure) are its functionalities at any given time.” This somewhat cumbersome definition communicates clearly what is of great importance to German consumers.

No wonder, therefore, that German manufacturers leave as little as possible to chance when developing their products. The Association of German Engineers organizes expert conferences on a on-going basis on the topic of technical reliability and maintains a working group on the subject. The Technical University of Hamburg has an institute with the same name – Zuverlässigkeitstechnik – literally Reliability Engineering.

It is no coincidence that the legendary Miele washer is known throughout the world for its reliability and quality, a product based on gewissenhafter (painstaking, diligent, meticulous) research.

A family-owned and -run company, Miele’s motto is Immer Besser – Better and Better, not only in the sense of striving to be better than the competition, but even more so in striving to offer the best Technik – technical solutions, engineering. Very much in the tradition of German Zuverlässigkeitsforschung – reliability research.

Miele dishwasher:

What is good service?

On World Quality Day – November 14, 2013 – the German Society for Quality presented the results of their survey on service. Reliability, with 92 points, was ranked highest by German consumers in terms of most important aspect of service.

“When Germans think of service they think of classic German virtues: reliability, puncutality (meeting schedule), and quality,” said Dr. Wolfgang Kaerkes, the society’s head.

Reliability is one of the very top characteristics of the German product philosophy. It is no wonder that they focus on reliability when developing products.

Used cars

According to DEKRA’s 2014 report German automobiles scored very highly in terms of reliability, ranking first in six of nine categories.

The overall winner was the Mercedes E-Class, followed by the Audi Q5 and the Audi A5. Car of the Year was the Mercedes B-Class. As reported by the Kölner Stadtanzeiger on February 19, 2014.

Reliability is in Germany one of the essential characteristics of any product, and at the same time a key element of the German brand.


Markenprodukte. Brand name products: Products which are immediately recognized as excellent based on the name of its producer; often products which are of average quality but remain in the minds of consumers due to constant advertising.

German companies have been exporting high quality products consistently since the end of the Second World War. Their products have gained an international reputation for being very good, often better than their competitors. The Germans view reliability as one of the key characteristics of a well-known brand.

Qualität ist, wenn der Kunde wiederkommt, nicht das Produkt. Quality is when the customer returns, not the product. This well-known saying indicates the importance quality plays in the German product philosophy. A product which does not function perfectly and therefore needs to be returned is an embarrassment to the producer.

Warranty, guaranty not the same

Two-year warranty: Set by law in Germany allowing customers to return a defective product. The seller is obligated to either repair or replace the product.

Garantie. Guaranty. The promise, security that something is correct, right, works; a promise by the maker of a product that it functions as advertized; a contractual promise.

Worst Case Scenario. An English phrase used in Germany. The German consumer expects a product to always work as advertised, last long, meet fully their expectations.

German consumers often confuse warranty and guaranty, believing that they can return the product for repair or replacement during the two-year period regardless of the cause of the defect. The law, however, requires the maker/seller of the product to repair or replace a product based only on defects at the time of purchase. Misuse of the product or normal wear and tear are not covered.

If for example a television does not work perfectly after a year, the German consumer typically will return it to the store and demand repair, replacement or their money back. The retailer, however, is permitted to repair the product as often as he chooses without obligation to return the purchase price. Nor is the retailer obligated to supply a replacement product during the time of repair.

The mere returning of a product angers the German consumer. They expect near 100% reliability. Good customer service – friendly, fast, uncomplicated – can help things, but is seldom seen by the German consumer as an excuse for a technical defect. If the problems reoccur, the German consumer will quickly switch to a competitive product. Good technical service is best when it‘s not needed.