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Making Things Last

February 21, 2009

taste the rainbow, originally uploaded by p.murf.

I (N.) don’t know if anyone would argue that products made today are the same quality of products made in the past. Nothing today seems built to last a lifetime. And while I understand it from a manufacturer’s profit perspective I really hate it from a consumer perspective.

There are basically three reasons we purchase things: it’s a new product to us that we need or want to try, we are replacing a product that is no longer working or we want to upgrade to a newer “better” version of a product we already own. Right now J. and I aren’t buying anything new, even if we need something we try to find it used. We also aren’t trying to upgrade anything but we can’t avoid buying replacements for broken products. So it’s really frustrating to me that my eyeglasses keep falling apart and J.’s cell phone keeps randomly turning off.

Twice, in the middle of doing something, one of my lenses has fallen out of my frames. By some stroke of fortune I’ve been able to find the screw and replace it. The first time I had to go out and find a repair kit and though they used to be easy to find I had to trek to three different stores before I found one that was $10! I remember when they were $2-$3 and I’m only in my twenties. I also remember the repair kits would come with replacement screws and this one did not. What’s particularly frustrating is that this is the second frame of this kind I’ve purchased. The first one lasted years with zero issues and this one is barely six months old. But there is a very easy and frugal fix- super glue. Generally you don’t want to glue screws in place but I don’t plan on replacing the lenses in these frames and I can’t afford to have them keep popping out. A dab of super glue and the problem is gone.

J.’s cell phone is a harder fix. We thought it might be a battery issue so he used my cell phone battery (we have the same model) and it still died. I can only imagine it’s something to do with the internal electronics and that’s above our ability to fix. We could have them reactivate my cell phone with J.’s number but we would have to pay the activation fee of $30-$50. The obvious solution is to get a new phone but we want to switch service providers when our contract ends in August. For now J. is just living with it. He has a work phone so I can still get ahold of him whenever and he can use our home phone to call friends and family. I really don’t think there is a better solution but I wish the phone had at least lasted the two years of our contract, funny how that happens…

Have you noticed anything breaking more frequently? Are you fixing it, replacing it, or simply doing without?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. February 21, 2009 4:45 pm

    I’ve noticed that things are breaking more frequently. Depending on the item and what’s happened to make it break we may do one of the three options you’ve given. I’ve found that in some cases it’s a “you get what you pay for” thing and in other cases cost doesn’t seem to have anything to do with it…it’s just poor quality.

  2. February 21, 2009 8:26 pm

    Oh yes, our microwave died after 2 years (we had our old one for 10). We simply live without one now.

    This is a great reason to try to buy a used older item and to buy things without electronic panels (like dishwashers, we’ve replaced the electronic panel 2x in it and it’s only 6 years old).

    I feel like a lot of things are like this. Tires for example. All of my close friends & family have all had to replace tires aftder 20,000 and the shop won’t cover it under warrenty.

  3. February 21, 2009 9:37 pm

    And here I thought I was imaging things. My phone randomly turns off. My husbands phone is exactly the same brand and we got it the same day – not a problem. Not likely to replace it… We still have my old phone so I could switchback to that if wanted to.

    My husand and I paid a mint on our latest set of glasses. His has lasted more than year with no issues. Mine need to be adjusted but they are living up to their reputation. They haven’t broken yet. I will be replacing the lenses next year because I absolutely hate the shape. They are rimless so I can get whatever shape of lens I want.

    Otherwise… I don’t know if things are lasting a lifetime but our TV is like 10 years old and still serviceable. Laptop is 3 years old and functioning. Not a lifetime but certainly going past their usual lifespan. Probably jinxed myself there *SIGH*

  4. February 22, 2009 8:55 am

    My most recent disappointment is my chore boots. After changing brands and styles because of poorer quality and no price relief – we found a brand that was comfortable, and held up to the rigors of daily farm chores. But boots don’t last forever, the tread wore out and I was slipping too much. This should have been a clue like Chiot’s tire observation. The next pair I purchased, soon started to wear and now after 6 months, they leak, and the soles are getting thin enough that they are making my feet hurt. Of course, the price is still the same and soon to go up even though they are using cheaper materials.

    If I pay $85 for rubber boots I expect them to last more than several months.

    I look at my beloved 50’s Singer and long for the craftsmanship and scruples of an earlier era.

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