Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Ranting at the man(ufacturers)

As mentioned in one of my more recent posts, we broke down and bought a new washing machine. We were able to get 2-year, 0% financing and delivery of the new machine plus removal of the old one for 1 buck, so we went with basically the same, relatively inexpensive model with a 4-pound higher capacity.

Even though replacing it was made as painless as possible by the store where we bought the new one, I still feel guilty about tossing out a machine that was in almost perfect physical condition as far as the casing, drum, door, and seal were concerned. I think John feels like the old machine would have ended up being a money pit if we had decided to keep repairing it, but to me, it feels wasteful to throw it out. More than that, it feels like we are the dupes of the manufacturing industry and their brilliant idea of planned obsolescence. A washing machine used for 3 people that couldn't make it to 10 years? My grandmother had perfectly functioning kitchen appliances that were older than I was as an adult!

At lunch today, I was watching a television program on exactly this topic in France. The producers of the show interviewed a spokesman for some unnamed manufacturer (or perhaps for some manufacturing organization--it was hard to keep track of the labels since they were in German and French), and he denied that there was any such thing as planned obsolescence, much less that his company had anything to do with it, but then they had on a woman who researches the lifetime of products. She was able to show that since the 1980s, household appliances have a lifetime that is shorter by 30% than before the 80s. And a historian gave the example of the lightbulb as the first instance of this: the original lightbulb could burn up to 2500 hours, but to move more of them, manufacturers reengineered them to last no more than 1000 hours.

This pisses me off to no little degree.

I don't know how to go about getting the manufacturers to change their dastardly ways, but I do know that they are not going to do it to me again. When our washing machine went on the fritz, I swore to John--who agreed--that when our condensation dryer gives up the ghost, I am just going to buy a second rack for hanging our laundry on and say "screw it" to buying a new one. And wonder of wonders, our dryer now seems to be gasping out its last breath. Within only a month of the same-brand washing machine. What an amazing cooincidence!

So, when it's cold out, I'll share my office/sunroom with a drying rack, and when it's warm out, I'll tuck one or more out of the way on one of the ends of our long balcony. Now I just need to investigate into a good fabric softener for our towels...

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