Built in Obsolescence destroys Brand Loyalty because nothing lasts anymore.


In the last month our Air conditioner failed, our Refrigerator failed, our New Oven was faulty and couldn’t be repaired. The Aircon and fridge were just 13 years old. I got a full refund including installation costs for the new oven, which I believe had a design flaw.

Sorting all that out seemed almost like a full time job!

It seems we are continually replacing appliances, often just after their warranty runs out.

But I think it’s our fault.

I remember a time when we had a second hand washing machine and a 2nd hand fridge that both lasted for many years until they rusted away. These days the appliance dies before it’s had time to start rusting.

When I bought my first mobile phone I also bought an expensive leather case to protect it – what was I thinking?? that I mustn’t scratch it and spoil the resale value? Ha Ha the joke’s on us all, nothing lasts anymore. Everything is built with Planned Obsolescence.

That old 2nd hand washing machine which was originally in a laundrette, so had done a ton of work, finally rusted away. Naturally I was impressed with the brand, Whirlpool I think, so I replaced it with a new Whirlpool. Sadly the new one only had one speed, the old one had two, and it ripped up so many garments that we became afraid to use it and did a lot of hand washing. Luckily it rusted away very quickly.

When our trusty Rover Mower died after a sterling 20+ years of work, I was impressed with the brand and replaced it with another Rover. Instead of the vertical pull start of the old one, this one had a horizontal pull start and it was a very reluctant starter. I took it back and the shop owner started it with one pull. There was nothing I could say. I’m not weak but to start ‘SATAN’ as we call the mower, it has to be pushed away hard and simultaneously pull started, using ALL my strength.

Hot water tanks used to last 30-50 years. Our new one bought in 1998 had to be replaced in 2008.

These and other experiences have destroyed my brand loyalty. Now I trawl the net, reading forums and reviews, looking for what people say about a product and after many hours I get a probable view of what is good and bad.

I was in the market for a new Camera a couple of years ago. I was extremely happy with my 4mp 10x zoom Olympus, I felt it had a special lens. Research soon showed me that the Panasonic FZ150 12mp 24x zoom was way ahead, so I bought one and it was every bit as good as the forums and reviews said it was. Who would ever have thought that Panasonic would make a better camera than Canon or Olympus?

Similarly I recently bought a new phone, a Samsung Galaxy Ace and I’m extremely happy with it. Who would have thought that Samsung would knock Nokia of its perch as the worlds top selling phone producer – Samsung dethrones Nokia to become the world’s top selling phone brand

Built in Obsolescence isn’t as new as we might think- it began in the 30’s Is planned obsolescence socially responsible?  and became routine in the 1950’s.

It’s not just the fault of the producers. We the consumers are also at fault. We haggle over prices, ask,’what is your BEST price’, and generally buy the lowest priced product that will suit our needs.

Often the producers profit margin is slim. An example is the home printer. These are sold at or under cost price and the profit is made from selling ink cartridges. The printers have counters/ photo cells etc and know when the ink is getting low. Some of them will refuse to print when one cartridge is low, even if that is a colour and you want to print in black. They often have 6 cartridges a light and dark Magenta and Blue which is possibly another attempt to make more money from the consumer.

Canon and other printer manufacturers always insist that new replacement cartridges must be used. That is not so, I’ve re-filled cartridges for at least 15 years. Which makes me just as guilt as everyone else, we’re all trying to save money at the producers expense.

The result is that here in Australia we no longer make Fridges, TV’s and many other products. It’s cheaper to buy from overseas.

That’s a very short term view.

When you take a TV/Fridge etc to the dump because it is cheaper to buy a new one than repair the old, do you ever think the system is crazy? I do.

Low prices are very attractive, but we must expect to continually have to renew everything. There are times when I would pay extra not to have this hassle, but I have no trust that a more expensive product will have the longevity there used to be, in ‘the Old Days’.

Product Longevity – here’s what I think in 2013
Mobile phone – 5 years if it doesn’t go swimming it’ll be well out of date by then
Hot Water tank – 10 years
Microwave 3-5 years. I’ve had them die a week out of warranty
Aircon – 13 years
Ceiling Fan Switches- the 3 speed, 5 – 8 years
Refrigerators – 13 years
TV’s – no data yet


2 Responses to “Built in Obsolescence destroys Brand Loyalty because nothing lasts anymore.”

  1. Les says:

    Don’t get me started on those bloody three speed fans – three is not enough!!

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