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Bambu Lab faces unanticipated A1 recall challenges

With TikTok refunding every A1 printer bought from the company's shop after seeing inaccurate information from US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)

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Back in January, Bambu Lab issued a recall of its then recently released A1 printers over unstable temperature readings and heating problems. Since then, things seemed to be largely resolved. However, due to higher-level communication issues, the effects of the situation have resurfaced, leaving the company with an interesting challenge to resolve. Below is a recent post from the company on Twitter:

Bambu Lab faces unanticipated A1 recall challenges, with TikTok refunding every A1 printer bought from the company's shop.

And here is what Cedric Mallet, Business Development Director at Bambu Lab had to say about it on LinkedIn, yesterday:

“Prioritizing quality and customer safety, we decided to recall every A1 instead of just dealing with potential problems…. It took us months to address this situation. We had to manufacture tens of thousands of heatbeds and ship them to our customers. We also had to arrange logistics to return the printers from all over the world for those who opted for a refund. Then, we needed to refurbish these printers, ensuring they met our quality standards while minimizing the carbon footprint of this recall…

Just when I thought this chapter was closed, and that I could breathe again, something new happened. On June 13, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) published a bulletin about this recall. Luckily, we didn’t wait for their advice to start our recall because five months with a defective product is quite long. However, the CPSC didn’t specify that the recall only applied to printers sold until January 30, 2024.

To support our content creators on TikTok, we opened a TikTok shop and sold many printers there. Last Thursday, their team saw the CPSC bulletin and, without consulting us in any way, decided to refund EVERY A1 printer bought from this shop, even advising customers to keep or destroy the printers (so much for resource conservation!).

Now, we’ve shipped thousands of printers but won’t receive any revenue (plus, content creators are demanding their commissions as TikTok canceled them too).

No one is at risk. We won’t block the printers; our customers shouldn’t bear the cost of this recklessness. We’ll count on our customers’ goodwill as we reach out to them individually to request payment for the printers they’ve acquired. And hopefully, we will be able to recover.

This episode reiterates a lesson I learned years ago (I still remember a December morning at Pixmania when Google changed its algorithm…): NEVER rely heavily on any third party for significant parts of your business. Building a brand and a trusted direct relationship with customers is more challenging and time-consuming but ultimately WAY more resilient. This is the path we’re committed to at Bambu Lab, and this experience only strengthens my resolve around this.

As for TikTok, if it wants to grow significantly in e-commerce, it needs to revisit its fundamentals… Trust from its customers (us) is crucial.”

Whether or not the ‘goodwill’ will be shared amongst a large enough majority of Bambu Lab customers to compensate for the company’s current loss is still undetermined. However it plays out should make for a good case study of company/customer relationships.

Research
Consumer Products AM 2024

1,346 polymer and metal AM companies and 143 end-users. Consumer products AM generated $2.6 billion in 2023. Segment expected to grow to $28 billion by 2033 at 26.8% CAGR. This new market study fro...

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