This text is from the second edition of ISO 9001, The Standard Companion. It is based on the now obsolete 1987 version of the ISO 9001 Standard. The third edition, based on the current 1994 standard, is available from Simply Quality.

4.13 Control of Nonconforming Product

Make Sure Failed Product is Not Used

Have documented procedures to identify nonconforming products and make sure they are not used by accident.


A nonconforming product is defined as any product that does not satisfy specifications as previously set forth in product requirements. Be sure to identify, document, segregate and control their further use or disposal. The system must prevent the accidental use or shipment of a faulty product. Where this is impossible, agreements must be reached with the customer on the actions taken in case of delivery of faulty product.

4.13.1 Nonconformity Review and Disposition

Dispose of or Fix a Bad Product

Define who is responsible for deciding what to do with a bad product. Then decide between one of these four actions:

a) fix it as if the problem never happened, or
b) convince the customer to accept it, perhaps on new terms, or
c) sell it at a reduced price, or
d) throw it out.

If it is stipulated in the sales order, inform the customer whenever you have decided to repair a product. Describe and record the nature of the problem and the repair steps taken.


Those responsible for deciding what to do with a failed product must be competent to evaluate the potential effects of the actions they choose. Mistakes happen. When they do, be diligent in identifying and properly disposing of the bad product and communicating to your customer what happened.

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