Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Cheaper to Buy A New One????

My friend’s washing machine recently stopped working, so he called a repairman to come out and take a look at it. It was an issue with the transmission of the machine. The repairman told him it would cost $213 to fix the problem, and it would take about three days for the part to come in and another day for the repairman to come back out and fix it.

The washing machine had originally cost $297, and my friend did not feel like waiting four days to get the washer fixed, so he decided to spend the extra $84 and just buy a new one that same day.

A colleague of mine worked in the washing machine industry, designing components for a major manufacturer. He told me that while the machines generally were of high quality, there were certain parts designed to break down within X period of time. By spending a couple of dollars more, the same parts could last many times longer. Because the parts were specific to the machine, generic replacements were hard to come by; so customers would have pay a huge amount for the replacement - which explains why the machines were reasonably cheap to start out with.

After thinking about this, I realized that a big part of the problem with planned obsolescence is the cost of repair. What is the justification for the extremely exorbitant costs to repair a machine? How many other people decide that it’s “just easier to buy a new one”? How much does this type of behavior contribute to the planned obsolescence problem?

An article on the Green Living Tips Web site on planned obsolescence, located at http://www.greenlivingtips.com/articles/231/1/Planned-obsolescence.html stated,

By: Abdullah Alarifi

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