When I buy hardware, I don't buy it from a "team" or a "department". I buy it from a company. It's the company that I deal with. So I don't really care if it is an "overzealous legal team" — the letters were signed by "Toshiba", just as the laptop I was about to buy.
Oh sure, the upshot is a punch in the face for the public relations department, and perhaps a bunch of extra work for customer services, as well as the cost of maintaining a legal department with nothing better to do.
If they conducted an audit of the policy taking into account its effects on all areas of the business, they'd probably determine it was a waste of time and money, and adopt a more laissez-faire attitude as Dell, HP, and even Apple do.
It irks me when people see corporations as these cohesive entities that only ever act with deliberate intent. In reality, if you conducted a survey of Toshiba staff, I'm sure a sizeable number of them would disagree with this policy.
> It irks me when people see corporations as these cohesive entities that only ever act with deliberate intent.
How else should we see it? Corporations are an abstraction layer, they're supposed to hide their inner workings and present one face to the customers. Hell, a corporation is a (legal) person. So I don't see a reason to not treat it as an whole, abstract entity - it's the corporation's job to figure out which internal part is causing them to have a bad name.
What, in your opinion, is the whole point behind a brand name?
We see arguments similar to yours when the subject of the Sony rootkit fiasco comes up. "It's not Sony's fault, it was just a rogue actor in a subsidiary." Um, no. The CD says "Sony" on it. That means it's Sony's fault. They spend a lot of money on branding and advertising to make sure that no one ever forgets that.
This is all true. But standing out the outside and pretending that they behave 'as intended' that is to say as a monolithic single entity, and then to guess about their behavior is counterproductive, especially if it is known that the company in question -does- deviate significantly from being a monolith.
Basically you kind of have to take both positions. Knowledge that a company is made up of bickering idiots doesn't excuse the company from acting coherently. But ignoring that fact while trying to analyze and predict a company isn't very useful either.
At the end of the day, the only organizations that are allowed to represent the company's intent are the Legal Organization, the Marketing, and, the CEO. All other bodies are required to communicate with those three prior to representing the company's intent.
Those three go to a lot of effort to be consistent, and accurate before issuing public communications.
I am reasonably certain (let's say 90%) - that Toshiba put some effort into deciding that their policy, as a whole, would be to shut down third-party distribution of their service manuals. This is not the case of an overly enthusiastic legal department. This is their company policy. Suggesting otherwise is giving them credit where it is not due.