I think you answered you own question.
Machine manufacture make machines.
The market then dictates if they sell or not. I am of the the cynical veiw that the general mass market is stupid.
Most people buy on impulse. They buy on looks. They buy on perception.
How many adverts do you see with the line “Has a 15 bar pump!!!!”.
How many people drive to the local retail store and think “Wow, that Kitchen Aid looks awesome. Looks a lot better than the next door neighbours’ Gaggia classic. It will suit the décor nicely. SOLD!”
Chris, how many times has a customer asked you “But is it better than the other machine?” I need to be better than the Jones’s! Rather than “Here’s my situation, what machine will suit me, in my budget range and why?”
I believe (I hope I am wrong) that this has allowed the rise of the cost cutting, penny pinching, poor management. The market allows for companies to get away with this.
Engineer finds that machine runs too hot. He proposes a thermosyphon restrictor. Management says “How much is this going to cost?” Accountant says $2 a machine. We sell 3000 units a year. This will cost us $6000. Management says no. Engineer says “But the machine retails for $2498. Who would really care if it goes to $2500?”
Management states “You just don’t get it! The competitor machine sells for $2499. This will put us above their machine”
Management then also thinks that it would a good idea to cut costs by getting rid of the final inspection/setup as the retailer can do that.
In some cases this maybe a valid reason. I have read that the US market prefer a different brew temp. Just manufacture them the same and the retailer can adjust, if the customer wants it.
Also wouldn’t it be better to ship at a higher brew pressure? If the pressure adjustment “slipped” during shipment or for other reasons, wouldn’t slipping from 12 to 10 bar be better than 9 to 7? Maybe this is a bit of insurance for the manufacture?
In the lower end of the market maybe most customers couldn’t tell. When I first bought my Silvia I don’t think that I could. So as the manufacture sees it, why pay to adjust when the majority of the customer wouldn’t notice. If they can, well then they can adjust it themselves.
Then there is just stupid engineering.
Why does the Silvia have that hex nut bolt to hold the shower screen in? Why not a counter sunk? This would cost almost nothing for Rancilio to change.
My friends FaemaTronic, pump stopped working. Found that the loom that runs along the back had been severed. The pump and boiler fill light sit on the right side of the machine. The earth wire runs along the back of the machine to an earth lug on the left of the machine!?! To top it off, two earth wires that from the control box (which sits on the left) run along the same loom to an earth lug on the right side of the machine. Stupid. Really stupid.
Just like you I could go on and on and on!
As a tech I constantly see things that are built incorrectly, don’t specifically do what I want them to do, or work a lot better with a little tinkering.
So is bench testing and customisation needed? Absolutely!
Should you shy away from manufactures that show poor quality or products that are too hard to set up/customise? A big YES!