It appears like the simplest fix would be a plastic tip covering the bare metal. If you look at most bungie cords, the end of the hook is covered with a small plastic tip. Of course that can come off when you remove the hook from the hole and put you right back where you started. Another solution may be to reform the tab in which the hole is perfed.
I have a Craftsman mower and the tab is far enough away from the deck that rubbibg is not an issue. My problem has been pulling the rubber strap off. At the end opposite the hook, the strap is anchored by a shoulder rivet. As you stretch the strap, the hole for the mounting screw also stretches. I have pulled several off the rivet and have never been able to get one back on. So I stretch a bungee cord around the rivet and put both hooks through the hole. I guess it doesn't look very pretty, but it works. I am sure that makes me one of those that accept substandard work, but to be honest I am really more concerned that the mower starts, climbs the hills in my yard, mows and the bagger works when I want it to.
Just because nobody complained (and that isn't true, because you are not nobody) does not mean it is great design. Besides that, studies show that 2/3rd of all customers who have reason to complain don't do so. In this case many may not make the connection between the metal on metal vibration and rusting.
Another option would be to wrap the hook in sturdy plastic. That could wear off after a while, but that depends on how heavy the vibration is.
We are the problem. Corporate America makes cheaper products because the consumer demands them, not for excessive profits as you call it. American Corporations must compete against subsidized factories and shipping and companies with newer equipment paid for by US aid programs, most notably the Marshall Plan. Then you must add in cheaper labor and Ameriphobes, who willingly accept deficiencies in some foreign products.
The comment about safety is right on. It is far more important to make a product safe than to have it be servicable or usable or durable. For this very sad fact we can thank the greedy lawyers and the incredibly stupid juries who handed out awards to people acting like idiots bent on self destruction.
Doesn't anybody accept that some products and processes are intrinsicly hazardous? One of the better examples is the engine powered rotary mower. Not content with adding a whole lot of guarding, now these mowers have not only a dead-man type kill switch, but also a brake that puts a great deal of stress on all of the blade driving system. And a stupid arrangement that puts the rope starter in a difficult to use position.
A large improvement would be to revise the laws and have a waiver for all buyers to sign, stating that they alone are responsible for their safety. After all, "Onjly YOU can prevent stupidity". (Sorry, Smokey the Bear).
The John Deere instruction manual seems to show the rubber connector twisted 90degrees to the outboard from the mount point to the clip install. The provided picture sppears to show the rubber connector stretched straight and flat against the cover or twisted only about 45degrees to the inboard side.
See instructions under: Using Mulch Cover (107 cm (42 in.) and 122 cm (48 in.) Mower Decks (If Equipped) page 21
Possible link for manual: www.homedepot.com%2Fcatalog%2FpdfImages%2Ffd%2Ffd904936-46bd-471e-9536-7c3ca3698e81.pdf&ei=yyYtUISdBIesywHcrYH4Bg&usg=AFQjCNFlM-BnvKLa5EnYSpU9ZJBjR9n3RA&sig2=tllrFLeyxI2YFUMbuCdjOg
It also looks like the pictured connector is longer than the instruction manual version- possibly incorrect assembly of the connector to the plastic cover during manufacture or using the same length rubber connector for both front and side clips when the side is supposed to be shorter?
Also note that some consumers who reviewed the cover said that the rubber connector(s) were difficult to stretch onto the mount points:
That said I commiserate with you about the issue of the design allowing the clip to vibrate against the deck. But the safety requirement for the design probably requires a complete and positive attachment of the cover to the deck - which used to be accomplished by bolting a cover like this onto the deck- but now seems to be accomplished by the hardened steel clips running through the deck.
The consumers probably requested the ability to install and take off the cover without tools- in fact, one reviewer on the Lowe's website mentions this function. Most consumers today do not have tools available or want the convenience of removing the cover without tools.
The majority of consumers using this type of product probably do not have as much as a discriminating eye for rust issues, would discard the mower prior to the clip and rust perforating the cover steel, or just don't care about it as they would chalk the clip creating rust up to "in use wear" (much the same as the wear on the face of a hammer head).
Some other possible solutions if installation is verified as correct and the clip still rubs:
Wood shim (as you have done)
Rubber cover wrapped around clip and zip tied to it/ into it
Dip the clip in rubber tool handle coating
Spray the in contact portion of metal cover with truck bed liner material
"... sent a letter to the CEO of John Deere, including the attached picture, describing the issue and asking for their input. As of today, I'm still waiting for a reply. I guess the "monkeys" can't write... or design."
That's almost a joke in today's corporate culture! CEOs of modern mega-production companies are too busy making deals to buy lesser companies in the global market to read a user's letter of complaint. You just wasted a 44 cent stamp! And, with this modern digital age, thinking that sending an e-mail is more efficient OR will elicit a quicker response, that's another joke! That's why modern PCs have DELETE keys!!!
I can't tell you how many times I've written (e-mailed) complaints to "Customer Service" departments for action, not from a personal-user point of view, but from a company point of view, only to get ZERO response! It IS sickening to see the arrogance displayed by so many large corporations. And, pathetically, there's just about nothing that one can do. Because of their extensive legal departments, most of these large corporations have insulated themselves from any form of litigation, that it makes one totally powerless. It's no wonder that the consumer is seeking alternate avenues of product to fill their wants.
As the author noted many Americans have come to accept sub-standard quality from American Corporations. This really is a shame that so many people accept this sub-standard quality and do the right thing and buy better products that may not be made in America. Myself I won't buy corporate crap anymore too many executives can not understand the "better" part of the "Faster", "cheaper", "Better" manufacturing mantra.
Personally I won't tolerate sub poor quality products and will only buy better quality products that meet my personal standards for quality. I don't buy American just for the sake of buying American. This is especially true with the fact that so many corporations have lowered their quality to the point of products being disposable today so that when the product fails it is more cost effective to buy a new one than to repair it.
Ok I will step down off my soap box now and let others get on it.
I worked at a plastics company as a process engineer that required its design engineers to spend an entire shift running the assembly portion of all of their designs. This forced them to design with ease of assembly in mind. This procedure helped with the end quality of our product as it was easier for the operator to assemble.
Even simpler, Ken, those engineers should be required to go to online forums on their products. Every time I have a problem with a product, I go to the forums and sure enough, tons of others are having the same problem.
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