Monday, January 12, 2015

Planned Obsolescence or in other words, Exploitation of the Customer

Today's post has been inspired by a cracked cross blade attachment on my Magic Bullet. I've had the thing for a couple of years now and I've grown to love it. Angel likes to have fruit smoothies for breakfast and what's better than whipping up a mug of delicious goodness right in the very dish you're going to serve it in.

Now we have a problem. A giant crack has appeared in the cross blade plastic attachment and my Magic Bullet is seriously leaking.  Some people would say two years is a lot of time but I would disagree. Besides, this is not the first crack. Two other cracks developed, first one about a year ago, second one few months later, but this newest one renders the whole thing unusable.  It's wide and lets a lot of stuff through.

Have you ever wondered why things break so easily these days? How many of us at one point or another reflected on the fact that products are not made as durable as in the past. Be it a car, computer, lawn mower or even Christmas lights, the lifespan on products we buy is getting shorter and shorter. Why is that?

Meet planned obsolescence.  I was shocked when I found out it was a concept widely used although not advertised of course.  Some people know about it, many don't.

Planned obsolescence is a policy of planning or designing a product with artificially limited useful life so it becomes obsolete or no longer functional after specific period of time. One type of planned obsolescence is lifespan limiting design where product's lifespan is deliberately limited by the use of inferior materials in critical areas causing the product to break or wear out prematurely.

I didn't just find out about it this little nugget. Couple of years ago I got really upset when brand new Christmas lights we just bought, were literally falling apart in my hubby's hands while he was installing them on the roof.  They were not cheap either.  Following that fiasco, I began inquiring about why the quality of purchased products is so low these days and found out about this scheme.

I was in shock and I was angry. This is not just a case of sloppy craftsmanship, this is deliberate. Companies hire professional engineers to help them design products that break prematurely so you and I have to go back to the store and replace them.

In case of my Magic Bullet, you would think they would at least sell the parts, right?  After all, the parts are made of cheap plastic so why not let people replace them when they break. 

No such luck.

You can't get the replacement parts from the manufacturer that easily.  They would like nothing better than to have you go back to the store and buy a brand new Magic Bullet.  Like the cog in the machine, keep the wheels of consumerism going.  What a ridiculous waste of money and resources.  

Thankfully, there are some people with common sense still left in this world and after some web searching I was able to find third party who sells these parts and ships to Canada.  For those living in the US, sells them as well. The part is cheap enough and I'm considering replacement, however if the motor gives in any time soon, I'm not buying another machine. Enough is enough.

Those that support this madness say it drives the economy. I say it clutters our landfills and cheats people out of their hard earned money.  

This is nothing but the exploitation of the customer.

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