May 17th, 2014
I just an article that hits close to home by Steven Kurlander titled “Washing Machine Should Last As Long as Hubble Telescope.” We not only specialize in portable washing machines, but are obsessive about product quality and lifespan so this struck a cord. The article can be found at:
I don’t have a lot of pet peeves, but this is definitely one of them. Mistakes happen and products break, that’s part of life. People in business will often go to great lengths to avoid spending a tiny bit of extra money or effort to fix the problem. Some will knowingly produce a product with a short lifespan that could be fixed with a better part that literally costs an extra ten cents. Others will come up with all sorts of creative excuses (you really have to admire the creativity) about how there must be some reason it’s not their fault, kind of like the “dog ate my homework.” Some people think they are so clever, that maybe the customer will buy 2 units instead of 1 over time. However while you can make a lot of money this way, you can also go big by making great quality products (Apple, Audi, Bose, Dyson etc.). I’d much rather take that route and create something that adds real value to society.
However some of the blame must also go to consumers. If consumers would be more insistent, for example, on longer warranty periods, companies would respond. As the saying goes, “you get the government you deserve” it’s the same when it comes to private sector companies. Also if people would take just a little time to better research products, and not just buy the cheapest one as so often happens, we’d see better quality.
Also, while it’s rarely mentioned, this is a huge environmental issue, and in some ways is a reversal of human progress. Growing up back in the 1980’s, many of the products (not all of course) lasted longer than they do today. With the incredible scientific progress that has been made since then, this is a completely ridiculous trend. I don’t understand why all of the powerful environmental groups aren’t up in arms about this issue. Regulation isn’t always the best approach, it can be manipulated to favor some companies over others and raise the cost of things for everyone. However something could be done on a large scale to highlight companies that do things the right way and make products that last…just one example would be to do lab testing for product lifespan of common consumer products, and publish the results.