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Clark Whelton
Lost in Krappetown « Back to Story

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It would be hilarious, if it weren't so pathetic! My 90 yr old friend got a new fridge and I begged her for her old GE with that wonderful stuff, Aluminum & glass, instead of plastic...seems refurbishing reliable, old appliances would be a good business...have some friends doing that, and they are always busy.
It seems we should blame the Energy Star program, piles of regulations, and gov't mismanagement for these piles of junk.
Thanks for writing this, thought I was imagining things. Guess I'm not psychotic.
A case could be made for paranoia, however.
centerlinehd

I read this article on a China Air flight traveling between Laos and Guangzhou. I laughed so hard I cried, oh the irony. We have all been you, a-hem...Mr.and Mrs. C.

Thank you for the great article!
Nowadays when you buy durable goods it's, dare I say it? a crap shoot. Some things are better than before: cars and motorcycles last longer and need less maintenance than before (I remember tune-ups and lube jobs every 3,000 miles, and engines that were finished at 90,000 miles if not before).

That said, after my experience with two cars built in Detroit over the last 16 years, and two built in Japan, I will never, ever, buy a UAW-built car again. Ever.

Household appliances? Not so good. I can second the posters that contrast well-built freezers, vacuum cleaners, etc. with the crap we're offered today.

Electronics are a mixed bag. Televisions are better than before. Radios, especially on the AM band, not. Run-of-the-mill audio equipment sounds much better than it did 20 years ago, but will it last? Computers have been relentlessly turned into commodities by the market, with the result that competition is almost solely on price, with resulting nosedives in quality and in customer service. There are exceptions, of course (Apple and others), but you have to pay a lot more for reasonable quality.

I recently got a new H-- P-- laser printer/fax/scanner, after our old inkjet went south after being lightly used for 4 years. I chose a laser because they tend to be more reliable and because they are cheaper to run. No more of those crappy ink cartridges that dry up or run out too soon and then cost an arm and a leg to replace.

We chose one supposedly meant for a small business, in the hope that it would last longer than a "consumer grade" piece of crap.

300 bucks, but it's all to the good, right? Until the salesperson told us that we needed to buy a cartridge for it, at an additional $80! Why? Because the cartridge that comes with it is an "introductory" cartridge that runs out after about 20 sheets! Talk about bait and switch!

This kind of thing is nothing but outright contempt for the customer. I'd like to find the executive who came up with that cute little idea and introduce his "introductory cartridge" to an interesting and intimate place.
The biggest problem seems to be circuit boards made in China. A circuit board is in every dryer, washer and fridge. This article does not overstate the problem. Just google any model of washer/dryer and you will find hundreds of people seeking help. The result of all this krapp is that the family balance sheet takes a hit because the money expended for the appliance is gone. There is no appliance that works on a regular basis to offset the expenditure. Collectively, it has to be in the billions of dollars. I guess we don't have to feel so bad when the Chinese take a hit on those treasury bonds.
I'm surprised at this article. Sounds like something written 40 years ago. Household appliances usually work fine, and extended warranties really are a waste of money. Cars last much longer than they use to and computers will run forever if you don't count the pilot error.

Actually I can't tell if this guy is complaining about American products or all electronics in general.

Here's a site with some superior American made stuff. Have a look. http://www.visiblecountry.com/
Lets see... appliance life estimated at 'about' three economic 'quarters,' those all-important measures of a company's worth. So, if a company can continue to make, and sell, krappe, they are by definition in today's economy, a success.

If you really want better appliances, better laptops, desktops, cars, or any other manufactured good then companies will have to find ways of validating themselves that have nothing to do with meeting the 'projections' of prognosticators who most likely bet win/place/show on economic performance. Imagine, economic performance that has nothing to do with the actual reality of a product - only with the relative performance of the producer relative to the prognostication industry.

Who are these blessed people who never have their junky stuff break?

I used to laugh at my boss, whose GM cars were delivered new with parts not working. Meanwhile my Dodge was in the shop every month. Every month.

This is the way that it's going to be from now on, so just adapt to getting stiffed. This is just the way it's going to be.
Made in China is the official Krappletown label. Meile washers and dryers are still made in Germany and as such are still reliable. Their other brands?
Our first refrigerator in our new house went out in 9 months [compressor shot]. The new compressor lasted about a year and a half. We decided on a new refrigerator, AND the extended warranty for and additional 4 years at a cost of only $99. [Yes, I know they are scams.] Two years and three ice makers later, the warranty has more than paid for itself, but not to fret! Mr. Cee's new energy efficient refrigerator probably saved a whopping $90 in electricity each year. Never mind that the repairman's house call was at least $90 and used some gasoline to get there.

His mother's ran for 25 years because in those days they were over-engineered for a wide operational range; today, they are marginally engineered for a much narrower range. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, has become lighter, thinner, and technology intense ... all in the name of saving energy.

I could write pages on my appliance problems. The only thing I will add is that,naturally, the salespeople are in on the conspiracy. I am currently searching for a new washing machine after the repairman told me my 6 year old machine had too many things wrong with it to justify fixing it. When I tell the sales people about both my problems and the problems I have read on the internet with some of the models on the floor, they act astonished and say they never heard about any problems. Thanks, Ray, for having this author on. I was really beginning to think I was unlucky. And believe it or not that is what one salesman told me.
I don't know about this subject. It may be too general. I think many would like to see more metal parts and less cheap plastic in products today. Metal is more substantial then any kind of plastic.

I think some things have their time in the sun and then decline in quality. I have had a mixed bag when it comes to electronics, cars and appliances. I think that would have been true in the "good ol'e days" too.

Cars: Generally they are better now then they were when I was a kid (i'm 38). Yeah, some of them were way cooler back then, but they sure broke down more.

Major Appliances: I have had some that have been fine, others not so much. I got rid of a 6 year old water heater that was piece of junk from day one. It was next to a freezer of the SAME brand name that is as old as me, and is going strong. High end washer is fine after ten years. High end stove, on first year, not so much. Buying expensive doesn't always work.

Flat screen tv's have been fine so far. The last tube TV sets weren't a problem. I remember the old set when I was a kid would break down once in a while, but TV's got fixed then. DVD players, game machines and cable boxes can be pure trash though.

I have had good luck with computers as long as I buy from the company named after a fruit. One mouse and one bad monitor after 25 years, not bad. My current computers are good looking with a real top design. They also made the only decent cell phone I have had.

Portable vacuum cleaners are a different story. Junk Junk Junk. The ones from 40 years ago are far better. The only decent ones made today are the central vacs. Old toilets are better then the ones today. Light bulbs were better when I was a kid, none of those sickly CFL's.

I think the main problem people have today, is the service from companies, especially the big companies. I think we were better off with local dealers instead of the big box. The local dealers knew their product inside and out and did service giving a large company a human face, the big box only wants to sell, they don't do service. I HATE 800 numbers when things go bad.

I do agree that things could be far better, and consumers will have to make the companies do it.
Among the American companies that have so far not succumbed to the mass extinction of U.S. manufacturing, I can recommend trowels still made in the USA by The Marshalltown Company (marshalltown.com). I have no financial interest in the company -- I'm just a satisfied customer.

Back in the '90s I ordered some garden seeds from a nursery in Marshalltown, IA and asked the owner if that was the same place where the famous trowels were made, relating my positive experiences with them. She not only answered yes, she forwarded my letter on to the Marshalltown Co., and I got two very nice letters (real letters, signed, on paper) from the company, thanking me for my praise of their product. That courtesy alone would have made me a dedicated repeat customer, even if I had never needed another trowel. They make fine presents for friends who garden, or work with concrete, or go on archaeological digs (no joke! It's on their Website).
I am the 'owner' of a S*b Z*r* side-by-side that has had $500 repairs just about every two years. For the past 14 years. Compressors, evaporators(two), heat exchangers, and more.
On the other hand, the Fr*g*d**r* in the basement, my first appliance ever, bought in 1975, continues working as new with the only part needed being a $32 cold control after 12 years.
I paid more for one repair of the S*b Z*r* than I paid for the complete Fr*g*d**r*.
Krep.
I try to buy nothing but quality.

You too should demand it. If we demand the best, we will get it. If we settle for krappe, there are more than enough around who will sell it to us.

I've long maintained that toilet paper and shaving cream are the reason God gave us Wal-Mart. It was certainly not for furniture, clothing, small kitchen appliances or any other number of krappe-filled market categories I would never shop at a Wal-Mart.

Used to be, if I wanted a better item than Wal-Mart level but still wanted to stick to a budget number, I'd go to Target or Shopko.

But now Target is also filled with krappe, and it's worse than Wal-Mart because they still charge more for it!

You can still find some good products at Costco among quite a lot of krappe. I've had good luck with a lot of things I've bought there.

But the kind of quality you used to expect at Sears, the unexciting store you bought your bedsheets and towels at, is hard to find there anymore. I wind up buying Matouk linens for shockingly high prices because I will not be robbed by buying Chinese krappe that winds up in the garbage after 4 or 5 washes.

It is harder than ever to buy quality, and it's more expensive than ever as well. The search for quality among inexpensive options is still a middle class thrill though. You can still buy a Country Living Grain Mill made in Washington State, and it will still survive a nuclear holocaust.

The good Toro mowers still have cast aluminum alloy decks and cast iron transmission gear sleeves. You can still buy Alden and Allen Edmonds shoes and get good quality. I love Saddleback Leather's stuff. My iPad sleeve, wallet and briefcase are all Saddleback, made in Mexico, and the best leather stuff I've ever seen. Once again, shockingly expensive.

High levels of quality, built to last, are available and they have always been expensive. My experience is there are certain things in your life that are better bought cheaply and replaced as they wear out because technology moves so fast.

Other things are best bought as purchases of a lifetime. I have a standing search on eBay for vintage Florsheim Imperial shoes in my size--especially the longwings. If they're in good enough shape I buy 'em and have my cobbler return 'em to 'as new' condition, and I then have a better pair of shoes for less money that will last me longer than two pairs of current Florsheim or Bostonian or Johnston/Murphy, and look far better doing it.

When you look at my feet you get the message: this man is Made In America, and proud. I have some wonderful Italian handmade shoes that are as fancy as can be and very expensive. I also have 4 pairs of restored Florsheim longwings that cost me less for the lot than that one pair of Italians, and they'll be going strong when the Italian shoes begin to look tatty.

I don't have a lot of money but I still want the best. It's a challenge to find it, but it can be done if you pick up good nearly new condition older American goods.

With appliances this will never work. But with shoes it still does for me, because so many people are happier buying krappe. I'll still buy more of those great American shoes even though I have enough to keep me looking sharp until my dying day.

Somebody has to respect the good stuff, or it will just wind up in a landfill, replaced with krappe.
excellent review
I used to brag on my GE blowdryer that couldn't be killed - bought in 1974, lasted 20 years. Same for Hoover vacuum early 1980s vintage, traveled from city to city with me, took much abuse before I gave it to a relative, last I heard the vacuum cleaner is still going strong, after a few tweaks here and there.
Don't know why author mentions NB sneakers, they used to be made in USA, but now primarily manufactured offshore. Ever heard of Red Wing shoes? Practically indestructible.

Appliances and goods generally are not the same quality as in our parents' generation, but author tends to overstate in order to make a point.
My parents got a streamlined Toastmaster toaster (it had the same sleek look as an Airstream trailer) for their wedding in 1937. It made perfect toast until 1982. I have had to purchase 3 toaster ovens in the past five years.
This article is so poorly written and contains so many exaggerations, generalities, and false conclusions that I at first thought it was parody, but no: all those lamentations run together so much, I can't figure out (and now don't care) when they all happened. Problem with Vista on a laptop? Mmmm, probably kinda old, and yes, even laptops fail, regardless of their country of manufacture (which was part of the point? or not?).

The article reads as if some curmudgeon cobbled together several years' worth of complaints about a handful of consumer products and spewed them out on the page.

Shoes that wear out after "three or four" uses? Really? Nah. Back in my day, sonny, stuff was built to last, you bought a car/refrigerator/pair of shoes and it lasted forty years or more. Yep, and school was five miles away in the snow uphill both ways. Sigh.

Valueless.
Great artical and so true. Love it!
Interesting article – reflects my feelings and experiences. I recently bought a replacement Kitchen Aide food processor, took it out of the box, turned it on… turned it off, put it back in the box, brought it back to Macy’s. Kitchen Aide used to be synonymous with kitchen workhorse, now its synonymous with Wal-Mart Krappe. Bought a commercial food processor from restaurant supply company.

I see that John Deere is now selling tractors at Home Depot. Sold my stock in that company immediately.

Government says there is little monetary inflation but that is not true. Instead of prices rising, product quality is declining. It’s the same thing. My new “commercial” grade food processor cost $1,700. It’s built like a $300 kitchen aide processor was built fifteen years ago. So, the true inflation is from $300 to $1,700.
We live in an ever-new world. Belive me, I live in both sides. My father-in-law send me this article since I work for (what used to be called) a white-goods ocmpany. I am fighting to bring manufacturing back to the USA whilst typing on a laptop that if a member of said Krappetown.

First, for all of you cynics out there. Appliance sales prices have dropped 50% over the past few years while prices have dropped by nearly the same. Who's making the money? Not WHR and GE, but HD and Lowe's, and, yes, Wallyworld. Manufacturers make no profit.

It is a generation (or two) who has consistently placed their collective futures on "their elected officials" and "business leaders" thinking that somehow, someone would protect THEM instead of protecting short term profits. It's also you who voted them in office (whether elected official or board member) so that you could profit too.

Let me tell you a simple truth. Short term profits are generally the opposite of what you want. Why? Because the people focusing on short term benefits are NOT focusing on building a solid foundation.

So, what am I saying? YOU have the money. YOU have the shares of stock. Through you shares of stock, your IRAs, your mutual funds, YOU control the CEOs and their worlds. You control who gets to hold YOUR money. Stop bitching and take responsibility. Sacrifice short term gains for accountability. And if my company isn't doing it for you, sell your shares and move it to a company that does.

Drive accountability at all levels but, at the same time, be patient, because as we bring product bac to the USA, it will take us time to earn your money.

The old America is dead. It's been dead for ate least a decade. If you don';t realize this, welcome to your wake up call. If you are already awake, focus on the future and remember that development takes time.

To my father-in-law sho sent me this article, understand this: buying "American" in name means nothing. Buy smart, be smart, and demand nothing but the best. In the end, the best will win... but only with your diligence.
Re: Sherri, "We've even had three toilet replacements and the one we have now is krappe!"

OMG now the krappers have gone to krappe!...
The worst scam of all is the fact that new printer ink cartridges are only partially filled so that you will buy a replacement cartridge that costs more than the printer. It might cost them 5 cents more to fill the cartridge in the first place.
Or how about that senior's insurance that says, 'no medical questions and you can't be turned down'? But wait until a claim is submitted. Then medical records must be included with the claim so that preexisting conditions can be revealed and what person over 65 doesn't have one or more of those, any of which can nullify the claim. Don't get me started.
I'm at a loss regarding the article and many of the comments here. I'm 64 years old and have had a lot of cars, appliances, electronics and stuff. For me, it's been rare that a product breaks down or doesn't live to it's expected life.

Looking at Consumer Reports' owner surveys, I don't think that my experience is that unusual.

I have to wonder about people who have problems with lots of products. Do they not know how to use them? Do they not know how to maintain them?
Don't be too hard on yourselves, in 1976 I met this sailor from the CV-66 (USS America) in Malaga, and in a bar we swapped our lighters.
And now in 2011 I still use this Zippo everyday, with the proud logo: "You're looking good America".
If those Zippo's had been made in China and not in Bradford,this would have been a rather different story.
I have owned many American made appliances without the troubles the author has written about. Maybe he is unlucky. What is worrisome is the quality of your automobiles. I have owned nothing but Janpanese for twenty years without incidident while listening to friends complain about poor domestic build quality and engineering issues. And this industry got bailed out.
Nice piece, we all feel the same way.
I would have more strongly brought home the points that:
1) There are no 'American' companies any more - they are all multinationals that have no inkling of nationalism, patriotism, or being 'American'. The CEO gets paid regardless of where the work is done.
2) Specific real examples rather than euphemisms for the actual situations that really exist would make this more powerful; we all know you are talking about GE, why not just say 'GE'.
3) As a personal note last Christmas or maybe it was the one before, I walked into JC Penny and got the distinct impression there was *nothing* there to buy - meaning, *nothing* for sale in the store was anything I even wanted. I could buy as many $5 ugly Chinese-made bathroom rugs as I wanted...but does anyone actually *want* an ugly $5 Chinese-made bathroom rug (you have to by a new one every Christmas!), or are we just that effectively programmed. The painful part is there is no alternative...at least they take my $5 and then buy U.S. bonds so I can pay them interest on my own $5...
This should be required reading. I could have written this myself (if I had been so clever). "Mature" people are always wondering why our mothers and grandmothers had the same refrigerator for thirty-five years. In our RV home, we have had three frigs in four years and the replacements are krappes. Ice Maker replaced. Krappe. Bought a Sony Laptop (because I thought they were supposed to be so good) Hate it! New Magnovox TV with built in DVD player. Nice picture but DVD player krapped out after about 15 plays. We've even had three toilet replacements and the one we have now is krappe!
Planned obsolescence. Or the more technical term used in the industry is Mean-Time-to-Failure. Quality control bean counters the world over use charts about graphs and graphs about charts to find the optimal production cost vs. market price point. Manufacturers figure that the price of consumer durables are so low that they will simply buy a new item instead of having it repaired. Very few consumers actually use their warranty.

Granted, modern electronics are engineered with so much complexity that the average tinkerer with a soldering iron can't every hope to repair a semi-conductor. Companies often attempt to corner a market by building in exclusivity (only a certain power adapter will fit for example) or captive accessories (selling a basic model that withholds some features and then offering them as an add-on). In the end, an industry standard will emerge and the market will naturally sort itself into hierarchies of quality. I'm all for open source design licenses.

Case in point: My friend owned a VW Golf and his father owned a Ford Taurus and put both vehicles in the shop for the annual emissions testing as mandated by New York State. Both cars needed work. The mechanic said he needed to order a part from a licensed Ford part vendor. The part needed for the Volkswagon could be purchased from any after-market supplier in the neighborhood. Guess which car was ready to roll out of the shop first? And guess which manufacturer gained a reputation for hassle-free maintenance? Appeals to patriotism will not work with any consumer, American or otherwise. The consumer does not care how much healthcare plans cost, how many workers go out on disability or how solvent their pensions are. If the rent-seekers continue on an unsustainable path, reality will catch up and bankrupt the firm as it did with GM and Chrysler. I'm surprised the merger and acquisition industry hasn't come out with a term for this yet. Perhaps "strategic divestment?" Who knows?

I'm all for protective tariffs to restore the United States' industrial base, but firms with poor quality control deserve to fail as a lesson for the others. Artificial barriers to trade, no matter how its wrapped in patriotic fervor, are still rents, subject to political volatility and consumer demands. When manufacturers and labor unions get too comfortable, the threat of liberalization will be used to extract performance and concessions.

Consumer demand for quality foreign imports also puts pressure on protectionist measures, so manufacturers also have to collectively and pre-emptively out-engineer the imports.

On the other hand, in a free-trade regime, an uncontrolled flood of imports will threatens local industries and therefore must be limited. However, the closest we're going to come to protectionism is the pending Currency Manipulation legislation in the Senate.

Like Pat Buchanan, I also offer a social conservative's defense of American manufacturing, as some plants hold together entire communities. I hope to see protectionist sentiment emerge from both parties and form into a power bi-partisan issue for the next election.

I don't see a contradiction between libertarian trade policy and protectionism. Did not Ayn Rand state that a free country has every right to attack a dictatorship? Can this moral dynamic not be applied to trade policy, where the US should have no obligation to deal with a brutal, non-market, single-party nation on equal terms?

Globalized labor arbitrage offers cost savings of course. That is the nature of "race-to-the-bottom." But the Ricardian comparative advantage may be offered by countries that violate natural individual rights, such as the use of prison labor, child labor and bonded labor. Does the use of a subcontractor remove us one step from those atrocities? I ask the free-traders how long should IBM have continued their work for Dehomag? How long should Standard Oil and DuPont have done business with IG Farben?
Absolutely true! My lovely T-Fal Vitesse electric kettle finally started leaking after a decade and a half. The new model was suspiciously named "Vitesses". It arrived, and the kettle didn't even sit evenly on the base. I turned both the old one and the new one over and sure enough, the new one is "made in China" and the old one was "Made in France".

Crock pots--same deal. The old, indestructable ones were made in the USA, the new ones that burn food and have lids that don't fit are from China. Even the old white kitchen timers--the new ones are from China and conk out after a few uses, unlike the perpetual motion machines that used to be made here.

What is especially frustrating is that the new appliances have the same brand names as the old ones, and are trading on the years of good service the old ones have given. It's a total bait and switch swindle.
This was hilarious and so well-written! Loved every word of it and even made my hubby listen to me reading it to him! Loved the part of talking to computer tech in Mumbai! Been there, done that.
Anyone intending to buy "American" is a fool and deserves the crap or "krappe" he/she gets. The purpose of the free market is to award those manufacturers who do a good job and punish those who don't. To base one's choices on the object's place of manufacture -- a union plot, anyway -- is to distort the market. To the Cee's, suck it up. To the unions and their "Monday cars", good job, someone is buying your crap, or krappe.
Our Maytag stack washer and dryer have
lasted without repair or any problems
for 16 years.

It wasn't made in China, Sweden or Germany.

I think the author exaggerates a tiny bit.
Love this article, but there's a missing key term: "Planned Obsolescence." Remember? There was a brief to-do about that four or five decades ago. And appliances are ever so much worse today than then! Our family's rotary telephone (electric but not electronic), purchased about 1968, was still working just fine when my Mom sold the house, 1993. Can you imagine any of these cell phones today working for a quarter century? Will they even work....three years???
This all seems contrived.

I have lost track of the number of references here to appliances which must have been purchased ca. 1975, not an era in which it was common opinion that quality products were being produced.

I currently drive a 14 year-old car which is more reliable than any new car which my parents' owned prior to 1975. The television was purchased nine years ago for a fraction of what it would have cost thirty years earlier and has required no repairs. I have watched one refrigerator expire in forty-odd years.
There is a term - resistentialism - when your inanimate objects gang up on you.....it used to be so rare, but not anymore. We had a new freezer go wonky on us the day after we bought it!
In 1994 church friends gave us their deep chest freezer they didn't need anymore and we plugged it in out in our uncooled, unheated shed in Texas. They said the bought it when they got married, in 1957. It worked for us for another 13 years, never a problem, never a glitch, until we handed it off to the lady who bought our home. Still running.....
Why did all the manufacturers move out? Because it's too "expensive" to make it here, or, in other words, not as profitable. Why is it too expensive to make it here? Because of environmental regulations, legal quagmires and oppressive taxes, and because our workers need a decent living wage and the companies do not want to pay for all the platinum-plated benefits. Unions are pig-headed and corrupt and do not want to negotiate a reasonable compensation package. As a result, Americans lose jobs and are forced to buy krappe from countries that exploit child labor and pollute on a massive scale. So, we blatantly support the sins and inequities that exist in other countries as we loudly proclaim they are unacceptable here. So that people can literally kill each other for waffle makers made in China and other krappe on Black Friday? Obama and the democrats promise the union bosses the moon and the stars and keep all the unemployed union workers on food stamps, generous unemployment and medicaid to ensure their votes. And the union bosses use their many millions in PAC monies to support the democrats and their own big salaries. It is all falling away beneath our feet, like the sands with the tide. Our only hope is to start paying attention and vote, vote, vote, in every election, at every level. Fight for your children and their future in America with the best weapon we have and the one they are most afraid of - your vote.
A few more words to the wise. After research in Consumer Reports, tell salesmen you are searching for the lowest price, which you will compile and maybe return later.

Very attractive deals are often found among: On Sale, Discontinued, Clearance, Slightly Damaged, Used, Demonstrator and Bankruptcy. Almost everything regularly goes on sale and if not, you may not need it.

Appliances need cleaning and maintenance and they do malfunction and need repair. Of course many products are designed for ‘planned obsolescence’. Businesses sell for profit, not eternity. If bought cheaply enough, you can toss the turkeys. High-priced brands include multiples of the expected repair prices. Add the ‘extended warranty’ and all the sales staff smile.

The requirement for inexpensive and reliable purchase is the educated consumer. Start with Consumer Reports.
I have come to believe over the past 25 years that every major product from toaster ovens, computers, refrigerators to automobiles are planned to be obsolete within a 2-5 year period. Whether it is an automatic breakdown because of cheap material or a "wonderful" break through in technology that makes it necessary to replace an entire unit or just a costly upgrade- I firmly believe it is planned in advance. Just to ensure these companies make enough money from the planned obsolescence of their products they have created the companies that sell the extended warrenties.

I sit here at my computer knowing that I need a new refrigerator and remembering the 1929 gas operated Servel refrigerator built in Evansville, IN that was sold with my father's veterinary clinic over 20 years ago and I saw working in its place of honor about 5 years ago, still working. Show me a modern appliance like that and I will show you proud employees and satisfied customers.
"Eventually, Mr. Cee gives his Vista laptop to his son-in-law, a computer whiz, who buys new parts and software." I'm surprised that it didn't say he installed the Linux OS and now it runs twice as fast and boots in 2 minutes.
Any scenario may be constructed with fiction. Mr. Cee’s purported miseries do not correlate with millions of frequency of repair data in Consumer Reports. The stores are not, ‘filled with junk’. Mr. Cee and Mr. Whelton are ‘whiners,’ because they do ‘lack consumer smarts,’

Mr. Cee should have begun reading in college and later subscribed to Consumer Reports. The invented Mr. Cee, “... wonders if he’s foolish for buying American.’ Yes. CR recommends the best products, regardless of brand. Over fifty years of subscription led me to vehicles, appliances, services and gizmos, which lasted decades, then given away in full working order - ‘fridges and stoves included.

As for grandmother’s reliable wringer-washer, Whelton may not have noticed that the junkyards were filled with the other breakdown-prone products, not of fond reminiscence.

The resilience of American manufacturers quickly surpasses domestic and foreign inferior products, including cars. By the way, many of those ‘American’ brands are manufactured in Asia, or Asian brands manufactured in USA.

Consistent reading of CR would have recommended reliable appliances, including an Apple computer running OSX. And don’t buy that extended warranty, which extracts profits from entitlement gulls, who don’t read Consumer Reports.
And that's just the hardware. Should we start on the Krappe software?
Christopher Dillon November 26, 2011 at 8:25 AM
I've had the same experience with Whirlpool washers and dryers. The last one -- which worked reasonably well otherwise -- was thrown out because a 50-cent latch could not be replaced.

Since then, I replaced both the washer and dryer with Miele, and they seem to be doing fine. A good thing considering the price.

I've also had the same problem with New Balance trainers. Mizuno (a Japanese brand) last longer and cost less
Ronald Miles Courtney November 26, 2011 at 6:27 AM
Don't buy American - it's krappe.

Don't by Chinese, Taiwanese or Korean - they're krappe.

But if you can find German, Austrian, Swiss or any Scandinavian-made products, PAY THE EXTRA MONEY - you'll be way ahead in the long run.
Oh lord, I thought it was just me. I buy old vintage shoes from Florsheim, Hanover and Wright, and have my cobbler renovate them. I buy every pair I can get my hands on because the new ones are Krappe.

Same with my snow lowers and lawnmowers. Simplicity mower AND thrower, both from the '80s, both cast iron and able to go through multiple engines, transmissions and what-all. Will I ever buy the Krappe they sell at Home Depot? That's for suckers.

Appliances? I follow the advice of my local repair tech, who agrees the new stuff is all Krappe, but some Krappe is slightly better than other Krappe.

There is still non-Krappe merchandise out there if you are willing to find it. But Lord have mercy, it will usually cost you.

IT'S WORTH IT.
Why did 'Sunbeam' go out of business? Best electric razor I ever had!
Fugge American made appliances and automobiles. The unions have killed America. Fugge all of this krappe.
Gilbert W. Chapman November 26, 2011 at 4:01 AM
Some 50 years ago Vance Packard addressed this matter in his book, "The Waste Makers".

His term ~ "Planned Obsolescence".

I have purchased many products that ended up being defective. Some were American made, others were made overseas. My theory is that we are living in an era of general global incompetence. This includes government obviously but also the business world. Perhaps the educational system is at fault but there must be other factors including cultural.
In 1955 my mom's shiny chrome GE two-hole (per my experience the only kind) toaster cost around $20. The Federal Minimum Wage was 75 cents.

Today, with the Federal Minimum Wage at $7.25, I can get a two-hole toaster for $8.00.

So, at the Federal Minimum Wage, the 1955 worker had to work around 26 hours to get a toaster. Today? 1 hour.

Serves him right, writing speeches for those crap politicians in particular Koch who destroyed the SROs to kiss ass the real estate grubs...the single worst decision in recent NY history and Rudy, the security genius...
The GE refrigerator that ran for 25 years (or more, the older its vinatge), was "energy inefficient"! It is now illegal, and if you own it, Con Ed, the EPA and Andrw Cuomo will come to your apartment and personally arrest you.
Crap indeed. I had a 5-year-old Frigidaire refrigerator die on me a few years ago. It was the replacement for a Frigidaire that had lasted over 30 years. I also had a Frigidaire dehumidifier leak within two years, leaving rust stains on the tile floor in the basement. I have another dehumidifier (made by Edison, probably no longer in business) that's going strong for over 30 years. This year, I spent close to $300 to have a four-year-old Whirlpool clothes dryer repaired.

I may be looking at Korean models next time. Korea seems to have improved its cars; perhaps it's making better appliances than our well-known American brands.
I can say the same about power lawnmowers and wall air conditioners (both of which have been destroyed by environmental nutsos) - shall we speak about toilets (holding on to the old models) - garage doors (wood vs. crepe paper) - with these products it really was the good old days.
Lost a sensor in a Big A refrigerator last year and fixed it myself with some help from some online repair guys. Ran some diagnostics, figured out where the part was located, ordered the part locally and fixed it.
Just look for Ancient Japanese Warrior and what this article discusses.
I have no connection, other than a satisfied customer.
BTW, extended warranties are a scam and are almost pure profit for the sales rep. This is similar to the Car Dealer selling you paint sealer and undercoating, in California.
My last washer and dryer were Kenmore's; purchased 37 years ago. The washer rusted out .... but mind you the motor still ran.

I was then ready to purchase a new washer and dryer. I figured I couldn't ask much more of the pair I bought so long ago. I was then compelled to go to the Consumer Guide people, the internet, and magazines with advice on what to buy. I now own a 'front loading' crappe machine that generates it's own mildew even if you leave the door ajar or run a clothes free load in order to 'clean' the inside of this new machine. The smell of mildew can permeate your clothing, bed linens etc. It is simply disgusting.

I was told by my plumber that these new Bosch machines will never, ever last as long as the old Kenmore's they took away. I'll be lucky to have them five years, and now I'm thinking since they are simply a nuisance maybe that's a good thing. These new water saving, green, environmental machines suck. I will never be conned into believing that nonsense again.

The lightbulbs I buy make it impossible to read by them. The low flow toilet actually caused a problem in the San FRancisco sewer system, because insufficient water was not 'flushing' the sewage along, and it was clogging up the works. Clorax has been proposed to 'clean out' this problem - - large amounts of Clorox.... 'another green brilliant idea.

The 'smart water meter' that this small city forced upon the taxpayer has increased the cost of water two fold. The goal of the EPA, I'm reading, is to force people to conserve. We live in a lake district in upstate NY. The changes of us running out of water are slim to none; and I truly doubt we are going to save people who live in Africa by conserving water here...

Tired of controlling, busy body activitist environmentalists who have no idea what they are talking about and who are ruining people lives because they are after all "the elite' who know better than the poor masses.

Revolution by Occupiers? The people who are fed up with this 'crappe' should be on the streets not the ones who don't want to work.
Pete from Baltimore November 25, 2011 at 10:28 PM
I cant speak for washers and dryers .Sincei dont own one.Buti do own my own small construction company. And i try my best to buy tools made in America.Most power tools nowdays arent.But "Milwaukee Tools "still does make some of its products in America.And they are the best of thier kind.Milwaukee Sawzalls [reciprocating saws]are pretty much considred top of the line

And most hand tools are still made in America. "Estwing" makes what are generally considered the best hammers in the world [ Not just by construction workers.But by geologists as well],in Rockford Illinois

"Crescent","Klien", "Baltimore Toolworks/Mayhew", "Vaughan","Empire","Irwin " and " Craftsman" , all make great tools in America. So i disagree with the premise of this article that America doesnt make good quality things anymore. Out tools and power tools are the best in the world
It isn't just that one can't buy well-made appliances. It's that appliances must now be eco-friendly. The coolant in refrigerators, for example, is no longer nearly as efficient as in prior generations. Must protect the ozone, or destroy it, or something.

Never mind that compressors and evaporators (the parts that tend to go belly up and at great expense) must work ever-so-much harder. Not to mention the additional power usage. All in the name of a greener planet, if not a greener wallet.

As for computers, I'm a techie, and I can vouch that XP is the best version of Windows that Microsoft ever foisted on us. “Best” being a relative term; who can forget Windows Me?

Don't fret, however: Microsoft will fix everything with its new, improved, soon-to-be-released Windows 8...

Almost enough to make me a Luddite.
My experience is different. We have a Sears fridge (>10 yrs), freezer (10), dishwasher (7), clothes washer(10) and dryer(10). Don't know where they are made. I feel sorry for the people who suffer from multiple breakdowns but it doesn't happen to me.
Regards,
Bill Drissel
Grand Prairie, TX
The "extended warranty" is nothing short of a scam. I recently purchased a new clothes-dryer, with cash, only to be told by the salesman "For an extra $70.00 I can extend the warranty to five years." (The dryer only cost $270.00 total)

"No thanks, the existing warranty will do".

"I can do it for $50.00 but that's as low as I can go on it."

"No thanks, aren't F&P meant to be a reliable brand? I'll take my chances, if it crumbles after a year and a half, I will just buy a new one."

"Do you know how many F&P dryers are in the repair shops?"

Now it's this last line which aggravates me the most. I've had it thrown at me several times in the last several weeks, each time in response to a "no thanks" regarding extended warranty, each time substituting the brand with the one being purchased at the time. What would F&P say if they heard the salesman asking this question? Every time I've purchased a reasonable brand-name product after being told how reliable they are, I've been offered the extended warranty and then told how unreliable "this particular model" can be. Perhaps the sales people get a larger commission from the warranty sales than they do from the appliance sales...
I just went through all this with K******* ref., and this is no exaggeration. Waited for a repairman for 3 weeks- A part that was the wrong one, And new computer card. It took a month to fix.
It is causing me to sleep with one eye open,and checking the temperature every three hours.
Parts from Brazil, eh? I know from my old atlas that Brazil is closer to America but is it a step up from China or a step down?