In addition to constructional requirements in civil engineering stainless steels often have to fulfil high visual demands. Unexpected impairments of the visual appearance of stainless steels under low corrosive conditions are a widespread problem today. Frequently it is supposed that this is caused by changes in the alloy composition, worse environmental conditions or improper handling. Within a research project the systematic investigation of several cases of damaged stainless steel bars has shown that the reasons are based on well-known material defects like chemical inhomogeneities (e.g. precipitations or local carburization) or geometrical defects (e.g. undercuts, rolling defects or shell formation). Thus, the failures could be clearly identified as production failures of the respective semi-finished products.