Planned Obsolescence for Domestic Appliances: Real or Myth?
In recent decades, major home appliance manufacturers have come under increasing scrutiny for releasing products that just seem like they’re designed to fail. “They don’t build them like they used to,” many will exclaim as they toss out a washing machine and begin looking for a replacement.
What’s the big deal? Is planned obsolescence – the idea that products are designed in order to fail after a given amount of time – really happening for our home appliances or is this a myth?
The Case for Planned Obsolescence
Proponents of the idea of planned obsolescence are often quick to point out that brand-new refrigerators, washing machines, and dryers tend to last a maximum of about 10 years at the very most and no longer than that. Contrast this with old appliances in your nan’s house that still work ‘just like new’ and it’s easy to see that back in the good old days, things were just built to a higher standard.
Consequently, new appliances must therefore be built with a shorter timeframe in mind so that us consumers have to keep buying new models every so often. After all, an appliance company wants return customers, not one-off customers happy with a quality product, right?
You Get What You Pay For (Sometimes)
When it comes to new white goods, the amount of choice we have today far surpasses that of even a decade ago. Low-budget, often cheaply-made refrigerators with poor energy consumption all the way up to smart refrigerators with digital integration and built with higher-quality materials and costing thousands of dollars are made for consumers with different tastes and budgets in mind – overall, that’s a good thing since there’s something for essentially everyone.
The thing is, a big part of today’s white goods comes down to the ease (or difficulty) of part replacements. Proprietary parts that are only obtainable from the manufacturer and only used for particular models are a lot less reliable than replaceable parts that can be used across various models, and without proper research into products before purchasing, you could end up with an expensive lemon after a few years that’s just too difficult or expensive to repair. Choose appliances that can be more easily serviced instead.
Some Nuance Required
Perhaps appliance manufacturers aren’t an evil cabal of illuminati plotting how to better sabotage their own products so we have to buy them more frequently (although some have certainly engaged in pretty shady tactics before). Rather than “let’s build this washing machine to only last 5 years instead of 10,” perhaps the reality of what they consider is more along the lines of: “how can we build something that we can support for 5 years at the high end and offer it at a price that is competitive?”
If this is the case, then the rational explanation is supply and demand. Consumers have plenty of choice, so in order to remain competitive they may use cheaper parts at the expense of offering more bells and whistles (many of which are unnecessary). Proper research is always recommended when shopping for a new appliance, but you already knew that!
What’s the Verdict?
Although many homeowners lament the quality of many popular white goods nowadays, it’s probable that the manufacturers aren’t designing products to intentionally break down after 5 years, for example. Instead, it’s likely that product support and the availability of parts simply doesn’t justify their manufacturing products designed to last forever.
Domestic Appliance Repair
For all of your white good repair needs, get in touch with the friendly people at Domestic Appliance Repair today.