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They used to last 50 years
By Thom Holwerda on 2017-03-20 23:42:47

Now refrigerators last 8-10 years, if you are fortunate. How in the world have our appliances regressed so much in the past few decades? I've bought and sold refrigerators and freezers from the 1950s that still work perfectly fine. I've come across washers and dryers from the 1960s and 1970s that were still working like the day they were made. Now, many appliances break and need servicing within 2-3 years and, overall, new appliances last 1/3 to 1/4 as long as appliances built decades ago. They break more frequently, and sooner, than ever before. They rust and deteriorate much quicker than in the past. Why is this happening, and what's really going on? I've been wrestling over these questions for years while selling thousands of appliances, and more recently, working with used appliance sellers and repair techs all across the country. The following is what I've discovered.

This is something we've all instinctively known, but Ryan Finlay goes into detail as to what, exactly, are the causes. The article's from 2015, but I stumbled on it today on Twitter, and I thought it was a great, informative read.

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Written by someone starting a new business...
By Berend de Boer on 2017-03-21 00:18:17
This article should have a note that it was written by someone who started a new business, supposedly selling better (or repaired) appliances. This business is no longer around, and perhaps the same guy is now selling a course on how to start such a business.
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Comment by joekiser
By joekiser on 2017-03-21 00:33:32
1) This is why we must fight to pass right to repair legislation.
2) reddit.com/r/buyitforlife
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what about paying extra?
By feamatar on 2017-03-21 00:55:58
I wonder between the correlation of prices and longevity. Back then it was big investment so it had to last, nowadays many appliances cost a lot less, I suppose if you pay the extra, or even, you can buy extra guarantee, you are good to go.

The problem is, people won't pay twice more for something to last 3 times as long, for the simple reason that we expect things to improve over time. And to be honest my parent's old fridge that they had when I was a child it was cool to see the improvements generation over generation. The same for washing machines, though I am not saying there were huge leaps generation over generation, the ones we used in the 90s were absolutely terrible compared to the latest ones(even if there was the whirlpool sixth sense, which we considered whirlpool nonsense, because it was confused by the humidity in the bath which functioned as a washing kitchen)

Writing all this, I started to remember, and actually I am happy that most things from the 80s and 90s didn't last :D
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and for computers
By feamatar on 2017-03-21 01:06:02
Once when I was a kid I read somewhere that computers and especially transistors last forever. Yet, it is said to see how equipment fails over time. That by now computers made in the 1980s reached the time that not just batteries, but capacitors start to fail, and old technology, that looks to be in good condition is on the verge of death. And part of it goes not to planned obsolescence but cheap prices. Many Ataris and Commodore computers for example used the cheapest parts to remain competitive, and now have shorter life span than an IBM PC. But even then, microchips can fail over time for a variety reasons and voltages :)

Isn't it sad that this great industry was never meant to last?
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RE: what about paying extra?
By Earl C Pottinger on 2017-03-21 01:37:34
Sorry, in my experience people are just cheap!

I used to repair printers, I knew which ones broke down and which ones were workhorses. I also knew which were designed to be easy to repair and which were a pain and expensive to repair.

But time and time again I would be ask what is the best printer for a particular job, yet time after time the people would buy the cheaper poorly designed piece of junk because they were cheaper ... then a few months after buying the junk they would try to come back and try blame me for them buying a machine that has already broken down.

I have seen businesses almost fail because of cheap hardware, but still people buy the stuff.

Edited 2017-03-21 01:40 UTC
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RE: and for computers
By Earl C Pottinger on 2017-03-21 01:43:51
Really? I have a C64 that still works, I had a Commodore monitor that I had hooked to a VCR and has been working for decades.

Note: Those were the Japanese made ones, I believe the later models were not as well made.
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RE[2]: and for computers
By leech on 2017-03-21 02:05:30
Out of all my old computer systems, so far the only one I've replaced caps on is the A4000, but I probably will need to replace the ones on my 1040STe as well. But so far I've tested my 8bit Atari computers and they're all fine; XEGS, 800XL, 800, and 130XE.
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motly nonsense
By unclefester on 2017-03-21 03:36:25
Fifty years ago most appliances were 1-2 orders of magnitude more expensive than now in real terms. Wages were also far lower in real terms (except in the USA). So the cost of service and repairs was trivial compared to the huge initial purchase price.

Old refrigerators are criminally inefficient. It is far better for your pocket and the environment to send a 50 year old fridge to recycling and buy a new model.

My sister has an LG top loader washing machine. It looks and works like brand new after four years. She used to buy Australian made Whirlpool machines which which were total crap even 20 years ago.
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How many are willing to pay the price for quality?
By BlueofRainbow on 2017-03-21 03:39:43
The overall cheapening, and resulting reduction in service life, of appliances is mostly driven by cost to manufacture and perceived value in the market place. Brands historically perceived as high quality can command a price premium for essentially the same unit with a cheap price/quality. It does not take to many lemons for the perception of quality to disappear.

Maybe it is not a question of willingness but rather one of capability to pay. For anyone having to purchase the full suite of appliances when moving from furnished rental to unfurnished rental or mortgaged house, it does not take much of a quality price premium to shift the purchase to lower quality units.
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You paid the price
By stooovie on 2017-03-21 05:42:53
Grandma's TV from 1980 lasted 5x the time her last TV lasted. It also cost 12x the money.
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