This is a story which the British quality stalwart, David Hutchins never tired quoting.
This happened in Japan a couple of decades ago. He was a frequent visitor to Japan and he saw firsthand what the Japanese mean when they day quality.
According to David: IBM, the American computer giant, had decided to test Japanese manufacturing capabilities by placing a trial order for some computer component.
In the specifications IBM had spelt out that they would accept only three defective parts per 10,000. This had stressed the Japanese manufacturer... How? Why?
On the exact date of delivery, the parts arrived at the doorstep of IBM. The shipment was accompanied with a hand written letter:
“We Japanese people have had a very difficult time understanding IBM business practices, etc, etc, etc...
However, with great difficulty, the three defective parts per 10,000 have been separately manufactured. They have been included in the consignment in a separate packaging, with bold instructions – DEFECTIVE PIECES, AS PER REQUIREMENT. NOT FOR USE. We hope this pleases you.”