Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Planned Obsolescence

If Sharp had had its way this year, we would have bought TWO new microwaves this year. But because, as Dave Barry once said of his wife, we come from a small, sheltered community in which we believe things can be repaired, we have thwarted Sharp's desire to get our cash.

There have been paybacks, though.

Way back in January, our microwave broke down. We took it to a neighbor who happens to be the guy the regional "authorized repair" shop sends their stuff to be repaired to, so we figured we were in good hands. We were. He got the machine working again, though we went without a microwave for about a month as he waited for parts. Then last month it broke again. We were excited this time, because the broken part -- the magnetron -- is still under warranty. Yay! Free part.

But then the wait came. First, my wife called Sharp to get them to ship the part. She was on the phone with them for ten minutes, giving them information, serial numbers, et cetera. After then ten-minte chate, the lady on the phone said, "Oh, I can't ship that to you. The repair shop has to order it." It didn't matter that my wife was ordering the part to go to the repair shop. The shop had to order it. So we went to our neighbor again -- who was going to fix the thing anway -- to get him to order the part. He can't, either. The shop has to order it. And we all know how high a priority shops put on warranty replacements that don't technically earn them any money. We're still waiting for the part, a month later.

I almost caved in and said we ought to buy a new machine. My wife said, no, this one is under warranty, we'll get it fixed. I just hope we get it back before the new year.

I think, in part, manufacturers count on people being frustrated with how long it takes to get things fixed. Rather than getting things fixed, just buy a new unit and toss the old one in the nearest convenient landfill. That's wasteful of resources, I think. But my green thinking still has us waiting a very long time to get our functioning machine back. That's planned obsolescence working for you.

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