Is it just me or is everything made to fall apart now a days?

Have we lost pride in workmanship for the sake of cheap?  Is it just me or are items made to fall apart more quickly so you replace them more often?  

Appliances used to come with long warranties, now they are only for one year. You are given the option of purchasing additional warranty time if you wish. Some people purchase additional warranty time and others don’t.  Some have major repair bills and others don’t.  Seems it is hit and miss whether you actually end up with something well built or not.

The dye in towels used to last for years, now when you buy new towels they continue to fade quickly.  Clothes sometimes fall apart at the seams when you wash them for the first time, buttons fall off, zippers break, etc.  Price doesn’t determine if the item will last or not.

A friend of mine recently purchased a bunch of new appliances at a large retail store known for their customer service.  They purchased a dishwasher, fridge, washer and dryer.  The fridge arrived with several large scratches on the front of the water dispenser, so the store shipped another one to replace it.  The second fridge was supposed to go through a separate inspection process beforehand because of the damage on the first fridge.  Unfortunately, the second fridge arrived with about 20 hairline scratches on the doors, but the water dispenser was good.  They are now waiting for a third fridge.

A few days later they had a new washer and dryer delivered.  The dryer worked for 2 minutes, quit completely and the store wanted to send a service technician out.  They asked for a new dryer instead because they didn’t want to have to wait for 10 days for the tech to come out, then the tech has to order a part and then it is another couple weeks before the part arrives, they install it, etc. The second new dryer arrived with a big 6″ round dent in the back of it, it works, but it had a service call error code yesterday, plus they found a small rivet in the dryer lint vent. They are now waiting for a third dryer and third fridge to be delivered.  

I had to wonder if their problem was a one off or if everything is made so cheaply that nothing lasts, etc. Do you have problems like this too? Things you buy arrived damaged from the factory, fall apart, etc.? Has quality and workmanship gone down hill for the sake of profit?  Sound off here!


7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. coconews
    Jul 11, 2008 @ 07:53:28

    Made to last?

    In 1984 I purchased a sofa set that was very well built.

    I had the sofa set for a number of years and many years later was having a conversation with a gentleman who told me he repaired furniture. It turned out he worked for the same store I originally purchased my sofa from. At that point, I told him that I had my sofa for many years and that it seemed to be very well built.

    He asked me, “Do we still carry the same sofa?” I said, “No.” He said, “that is why.” He said, “this particular store only wants a sofa to last 5 to 7 years at the most, so you will have to buy a new one.”

    He suggested that I reupholster the sofa set in the future, because I would never be able to get the same build quality again if I bought a new one.

  2. M-
    Jul 11, 2008 @ 23:57:49

    I’ve had pretty good luck with a lot of the things I’ve bought. Or at least, the vast majority of the stuff I’ve bought in the last decade has been of acceptable quality, without failures.

    There was a cheap, crappy DVD player that I bought 8 years ago that lasted only two years. Another DVD player that I bought for a particular feature was a piece of junk from day one, not because of build quality but because it wasn’t properly designed to perform the feature that I’d bought it for. I kept it for three years before upgrading. The upgrade was cheaper than the first one, and two years later I’m still very happy with it.

    I bought a Ford once. I’ll never make that mistake again (sold it a few years ago)… My company had a year-old Ford in my department, which left me stranded on the side of the road earlier this year…

    One thing that I have noticed is that cheaply-made stuff has gotten both cheaper and junkier. Higher-quality, built-to-last stuff carries a premium. But you can’t trust that something expensive was built to last, because junky stuff can be gussied up to look expensive.

  3. Ron
    Jul 12, 2008 @ 08:52:07

    Stuff made 8 or 10 years ago was made better than today. I have spent money for high end and had it fall apart or breakdown too. It is more about companies profit margins than quality and built to last.

    If you have a sofa that has hardwood recover it. The wood that is used in sofas today is thinner, more brittle and will not last.

  4. streel
    Jul 15, 2008 @ 12:32:35

    Not sure if you have seen the Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard. It is a little slanted, but taken with a grain if salt, it is worth watching.

  5. Panda
    Jul 16, 2008 @ 12:25:23

    My experience also is things fall apart. TV, VCR lasted about 6 years. Lots of things break immediately so I mainly buy from places with excellent return policies. Some of this is related to outsourcing and lack of quality control. I think this is the main problem with inflation numbers. Sure you can buy many things more cheaply, but they don’t last as long, and CPI doesn’t take into account that something will break in a few years rather than last decades.

  6. jillbeth
    Aug 01, 2008 @ 13:25:49

    Yes, practically everything is made to fall apart these days. That’s why I buy (and sell) secondhand. Vintage furnishings have so much more charm and character than today’s mass-produced chipboard junk. And they’ll be around after today’s furniture is in a landfill.

  7. philip
    Dec 08, 2008 @ 15:02:04

    Agreed. I’ve had this conversation with a lot of people in the last 5 years. Personally, I’ve had a GE Dryer, a GE Dishwasher, a Netgear router, a Gateway computer, a smoke detector, a garage door opener, and a Western Digital External Hard Drive that have all failed recently. Of these items, the dryer, the router, the smoke detector, the hard drive, and the garage door opener did not work correctly from day one. Calling for support at any of the huge companies that produced this junk was an experience in bureaucratic futility. And, it was like another full time job.

    Ultimately, I’ve come to this conclusion: There are a lot of companies (and people who work at those companies, apparently) that just don’t care, and the trend seems to be going in the wrong direction for consumers. Something needs to be done about it, but as individuals we are pretty helpless against these huge corporations. So what do we do? I complain a lot, and ask to talk to managers a lot, but I’m noticing that even the managers at these big corporations have become as apathetic, if not more so, than the first tier customer service representatives. It’s as if they have been turned into something inhuman. It is quite sad. So, my latest attempt to rectify things is to report GE to the Better Business Bureau. We’ll see where that gets me. I’m not optimistic.

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