This morning I was asked whether I had found a good toaster yet. Those of you who have followed the saga will be familiar with my search for a toaster that toasts well. Was it an ask too great for modern technology? Apparently so, because I had to return the various toasters three times before getting this one. Apart from the nuisance of having to go back to the shopping mall, there was the fundamental question of why can’t they make things that work properly?
Manufacturers used to make toasters that toasted very well. Sure they cost a lot more before the Chinese came onto the scene with their cheap appliances that either don’t work reliably or don’t last more than a couple of years. So where’s the economy in that?
The person who asked me about my latest toaster is still using the one that he received as a wedding gift from William the Conqueror. It works, has been repaired a couple of times, but does the job.
I wonder how many of the appliances we buy nowadays would last more than a couple of years. That’s if they work well in the first place.
The Chinese don’t care cause they’re selling millions of them around the world and if they have to replace them for free within twelve months, it doesn’t bother them because setting up a good system of quality control would cost them more. Actually, nowadays, the quality control is done by customers, so it’s up to the customer to complain and return the darn thing. That’s if the customer has the time to do it. The problem with that is that sometimes the customer suffers from poor control in production e.g the melamine in dairy products fiasco which led to the death of babies.
China is now one giant factory. It has cheap labour and lots of it and thrives on turnover. It has many customers all over the world. Famous electrical brands set up their factories in China and the market churns out products that will end up in the refuse dumps within a short period of time.
In 1960, Vance Packard wrote a seminal work on the disposable society called “The Waste Makers” about planned obsolescence. Well, he certainly described how things are now and they aren’t going to get any better.
if we are really serious about all the garbage we produce perhaps we should demand that factories monitor their products more strictly. Perhaps the price will go up but then products may become more reliable.
So how is the latest toaster? Well, it’s okay. Its brand name is Sunbeam Toastum. The result is not quite even all over the bread, but at least the thermostat is working for the time being. What is unsatisfactory, however, is that the bread does not rise high enough at the end of the toasting, so you have to be careful not to burn your fingers removing the toast. Ouch!