It is long I had this realization that often I externalized, but now, after reading a few articles, I realize that, alas, it is true and no longer one doubt.
I guess my reflection has also been yours since it concerns the lifespan of all electrical and electronic equipment (and not only) we buy. Whether it’s a simple light bulb, a toaster, a washing machine or a television set, all these appliances no longer have the same duration of the ones that we bought many years ago.
As a boy I remember that rarely we changed a light bulb at home, but without going so far back in time, I can say that after married I have changed the first refrigerator after 22 years, although it was not yet completely irreparable. The same goes for television, washing machine and boiler. Devices which seemed almost “eternal,” and which, even if broke, could be repaired and it was worth it. It’s symptomatic that the figure of the “troubleshooter” has almost been disappeared, especially the “TV repairer” that no longer we find around, except for the authorized repair centers of the various brands.
It’s true that compared to the past the price of some household appliances is lower, as the case of televisions, but today an energy-saving bulb costs much more than an incandescent bulb, and if you’ve noticed, it lasts much, much less. In summary, we save money but buying something that lasts much less, or we pay more – for saving consumption or pollution – but in exchange we have to replace the item more often.
Truly a big deal!
The term that you must remember and that manufacturers take into account, is “planned obsolescence,” which means that all the devices are “deliberately” built to guarantee a lower duration, through a limited useful life, as if it were a “deadline” beyond which the product must not longer ensure flawless operation or could break down even.
All this to sell more and therefore at the expense of we consumers.
The “built-in planned obsolescence” has been planned to perfection because it must neither be too short – causing the dissatisfaction of customers and damage the image of the company – and nor too long – to lead to a loss of revenue.
At this we also must add a different policy of spare parts, according to which companies produce only a few replaceable parts, while some repair parts are too expensive or hard to find, with the aim of forcing the customer to replace the device. For example, consider the batteries which often (deliberately?) cannot be replaced because built-in and, when not more rechargeable, force us to throw the unit, as happened with the iPod (lasting not more than two years!), with MacBook Pro, or with some digital cameras.
All what I am saying has been confirmed in Germany by a study commissioned by the Parliamentary Group of German Greens. According to Stefan Schridde and Christian Kreis, authors of the study, it is extremely difficult to demonstrate this “intentionality” of the producers, of course. Producers which defend themselves saying that the “planned obsolescence” would be counterproductive because customers would consider the brand unreliable and turn to others. This could be true only if they were few companies to implement such a “planned feature”….. Isn’t it?
Also, it is a fact that until the 70’s, one appliance’s life expectancy was 20-30 years, while today it is more than 10 times lower.