21st century quality

This is a Dobie pad, some might know it is a Chore Boy (stupid name, that):

This Dobie pad is 2 weeks old.

I used to buy a Dobie pad and use it for months; only throwing it out when it started to smell so bad even microwaving it didn’t help.

So yes, they’re still cheap, but you buy 30 of them a year instead of 3. So not cheaper, actually much more expensive, cumulatively speaking.

Same goes for laundry machines, refrigerators, dishwashers, clothes, shoes, etc., all poorly manufactured in the name of being either “cheap” or “energy efficient.” I have a washing machine in my basement that, when running, sounds like giant chains being pulled across the prow of a ship, but I don’t dare replace it because it will probably continue to work for longer than any new one I would buy.

Is anyone calculating into these equations the cost of all of this broken crap in our landfills and wasted resources used manufacturing stuff that doesn’t last?

Just curious.

8 Responses to “21st century quality”

  1. December 4, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    I suggest checking out the “Story of Stuff” project, which provides videos discussing in easy to understand but non-condescending terms, the manufacturing and marketing of goods in our system. It also includes a discussion about e-waste and “designed for the dump” mentality of most electronics companies. These videos also address how we, as consumers, can work to break the endless cycle of manufacture –> consume –> dump.

    They can be found here: http://www.storyofstuff.com/

    It’s intentional. Both for cheaper costs in manufacturing, and a good turn over from people who want or need to buy their goods.

  2. December 4, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    vacuum cleaners. My mother had an Electrolux vacuum, the canister kind that you dragged around behind you. One vacuum cleaner for my entire childhood and beyond. I cringe at the thought of counting how many vacuum cleaners I’ve gone through in my adult life already. And I have to be honest and say that I don’t even use them that often. Certainly not enough to wear them out. Perhaps the fault is mine for not investing in a quality machine in the first place?

  3. December 4, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    With stuff like the chore boy and sponges, I buy those 12 for a dollar packs of small sponges in the smaller dime stores — that’s less than 10 cents a sponge, and use one a week, then toss. Some years ago I read sponges are germ storage units and you end up wiping your counters down with germs the longer you keep a sponge. To me 10 cents a week is a bargain if the sponges are sanitary. I remember my mother using sponges for months until they fell apart, thinking she was thrifty. She was also a bear about cleanliness and our home was spotless. I laugh to think of all the germs she was spreading in both the kitchen and bathroom because of the ratty old sponges she kept reusing. I, who clean less frequently than she ever did, am probably more hygenic just because I throw out the bathroom sponge after one cleaning, and the kitchen sponge after a week.

    My mother had a heavy, upright Sears vacuum cleaner the whole time I was growing up and “tanner24” is right, I’ve gone through 4-5 in my adult life and don’t use them as often as my mother did — they constantly wear out. I refuse to pay $500 for a Dyson. But if I did that f*cker better work for the rest of my life, lol!

    Planned obsolesence is something I’ve come to expect, if not like. However, the time frame seems to be getting shorter. I bought a toaster a couple of months ago — mine stopped working. Well, this week the new toaster stopped working. I’ve had it maybe 3 months. WTF?! I mean, come on, shouldn’t there at least be a minimum standard for appliances?

  4. December 4, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    I’m with you Julee (and Sheriji…and everyone!). But the problem is: is it possible to buy a product (e.g. a vacuum cleaner) which will last a long time? Is the Dyson just five times more expensive so they can make huge profits? I work with marketing people who tell me that you really do make a product appear high quality to consumers by simply attaching a high price tag.

    If the Dyson came with a 5 year guarantee, I’d buy it! We consumers have presumably voted with our wallets and said that we want products at the minimum price. Everything is now made in China under a minimum price approach. I’m sure the Chinese workers are paid so little, they don’t care about quality. They just want to get that vacuum cleaner off the production line. Western consumers except us four 🙂 are not willing to pay extra and have a durable product, made by someone who derives satisfaction from producing something they’re proud of.

  5. December 4, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    Some years ago my new computer started to freeze up every few minutes. I had no idea what was causing it, so I decided to start writing down what I’d been doing just before it froze and what time it was. After a couple of notes my pen ran out, so I went down to the store at the base of the apartment building. There I bought a new pen and a can of pop. When I got back to the lobby I found out that the elevators were out. I climbed the stairs back to my apartment, sat down, and when I tried to open the pop the ring snapped off. After opening it with an old-fashioned can opener I then went back to making notes only to discover that my new pen wouldn’t write.

    And that’s when I had the most important revelation of my life: nothing works.


    Having no more expectation that anything is going to actually work has made it a lot easier on my nerves.

    Of course, I’m even more of an ass-hole. But that’s just a matter of degree.

  6. 8 Matt
    December 5, 2010 at 2:02 am

    People have thought about those things, but they also think about their profits and how building durable products would lower them!

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