Planned Obsolescence

Back in the 80’s when I was attending university, I took an economics course. While I found most of it painfully boring, I did learn about a rather Machiavellian process called planned obsolesence:

[Planned Obsolescence is] a policy of planning or designing a product with an artificially limited useful life, so it will become obsolete (that is, unfashionable or no longer functional) after a certain period of time. The rationale behind the strategy is to generate long-term sales volume by reducing the time between repeat purchases (referred to as “shortening the replacement cycle”).

Since manufacturers know that consumers want their product (and money) to last as long as possible, they also decided to create a duplicitious bit of chicanery called the “extended warranty” option, a money-grabbing ploy designed to make consumers pay extra for the longevity they should have had in the first place. (I have never and will never buy an extended warranty; when I’m offered one, I’ve been known to get testy.)

Anyway, this all leads to my latest gripe.  There was a time when one could purchase a couch or a bed and, with regular use, know that it would last years. Last year I had to buy a new mattress to replace the one I had purchased less than 5 years ago.  That one had a huge butt divot in the centre. (And my butt is not THAT big).  This week, I had to buy another sofa, my second in two years.  The one I’m replacing, a power reclining sofa, had a stroke mid-recline, seized up, and died.  I phoned Teppermans, the furniture company where it was purchased, and was told the couch was out of warranty.  As a “courtesy”, they would send someone out in a week. A repair, should one be possible, would take months.


Exhibit A: My Apoplectic Sofa

I couldn’t envision having the couch extended like this for months (it’s sticking out into my small living room and Buddy the arthritic dog jumps off it like a launch pad) and I also didn’t want to pay big bucks for the repair, so I told them no thanks.  I went furniture shopping and stayed clear of the franchises.  I bought another sofa at a family-owned store which sells pricier, higher end furniture.

Damn thing better last a several lifetimes or I’m sitting on the floor, zaisu style. Actually, I think this looks rather comfortable:





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