Mandated by Design

Written by BG Howard

February 8, 2024

In the process of sitting with my usual barber (Cliff for reference) last week for a much-needed “taming of the mane,” he disclosed having come up with an idea for a unique product some time ago.  Cliff then spent several minutes detailing the demonstrated need as well as nominal benefits his conceptual device would provide.  The process of seeking production for the invention, he said, proved rather daunting given that no one wanted to take on the project.  He was told his invention was “cost negligent” according to some.  (Note:  No actual definition of the term could be found.)

However, reason provided those “would be” investors and producers displayed an utter lack of interest in the device Cliff conjured up.  As it turned out, their attitudes had nothing to do with his invention’s production costs, functionality or absence thereof.  In fact, the reason as he disclosed, was due to the realization there wouldn’t be any “replacement” parts.  In other words, there weren’t any parts on his invention that would need repairing or replacing.  With this, he was told by prospective clients the product had no inherent value if it didn’t contain components that would eventually require replacement.  They were seemingly more concerned about generation of residual income than the good that could be gained from the invention’s development.

This scenario gives cause for concern when one considers the products manufactured in this, and other countries around the world.  Everything produced is essentially “designed” to break down which mandates the need for replacement parts.  This, by default, manifests an entire industry necessary to “support” various aspects of maintenance “required” on everything from automobiles to household blenders.

More troubling is the fact some items manufactured contain vital parts costing more than the product itself.  In case of malfunction, one is left with little option except to purchase an entirely new unit.  That’s reason for the classic statement; “nothing lasts forever” because products are intentionally designed not to do so.  It seems everything made has to have at least one component that will need replacing which fosters a residual income stream.

Household light bulbs once did well if they lasted several months even with intermittent usage.  Now, companies manufacture bulbs guaranteed for at least twenty-five thousand hours of use.  Many common products once viewed as “disposable” now come with lifetime warranties.  And beyond the manufacturers’ warranty, the new thing is an option to purchase “extended warranties” for periods ranging from one to five years.” 

A manufacturer being aware their product wouldn’t likely provide satisfactory service beyond the assigned “original warranty period” couldn’t gamble on the fact it may not function properly five years longer.  Warranties are sold with the express “hope” that repair claims never be submitted.  Otherwise, what’s the point of it?  This issue would almost require they manufacture a better product because an extended warranty seldom equates the cost of inevitable repairs in the long run.  Unfortunately for consumers, the bottom line is always the bottom line; which manufacturers look to protect.

Many years ago, if a consumer purchased a new vehicle and got fifty to seventy-five thousand miles out of the engine it was considered a “good” car or truck.  This day and age, a great percentage of automobiles manufactured don’t even require the first tune-up or major service until registering a hundred-thousand miles.

Industry leaders insist the “improved” performance can be attributed to technological advancements and product development.  Granted, those attributes might serve to justify significant benefits witnessed in the overall process but there has been evidence presented that suggests automobile producers “scaled back” on quality for the sake of driving (no pun intended) the market. 

If the typical vehicle only lasted one hundred thousand miles it would more-or-less mandate the purchase of a new automobile.  Taking that into consideration, one can only speculate there could have been an officially “unofficial” agreement among domestic automobile producers to not exceed a certain standard.  This concept would have been totally disrupted if foreign manufacturers weren’t willing to go along with the diabolical plan.  That could explain why Japanese vehicles once outperformed domestic models by leaps and bounds.  I could be wrong but it’s just something to consider.

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