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Dishwasher Failed the Toddler Test

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Elizabeth M
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Not surprised
Elizabeth M   8/1/2013 8:22:01 AM
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Yet another example of products not being made to be as resilient as they used to be, and customer service also not being as good as it has in the past! I agree the door should've been stronger in the first place, and shame on GE for blaming the customer. Good for you for fixing the problem and doing the simple thing the manufacturer could've done to avoid the problem.

Nancy Golden
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Mixed feelings
Nancy Golden   8/1/2013 10:53:02 AM
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Hmmmm...not sure about this one. I certainly see your point but on the other hand, the dishwasher is simply not designed to take weight on the open door. Flimsy design - yes, agreed. But would I expect a dishwasher designed to wash dishes effectively to also support a toddler's weight? Not sure - and yes, I have kids and grandkids with mine. As a test engineer we are constantly thinking of scenarios that could affect the test set but a limit must be drawn somewhere. I would be very disappointed in GE's lack of quality but it does seem to be the going trend unfortunately and when you buy a higher end dishwasher it would make you tend to wonder what they mean by "higher end." I have mixed feelings on this one...

TJ McDermott
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Re: Mixed feelings
TJ McDermott   8/1/2013 12:07:21 PM
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Nancy, I agree with you that this may not be monkeys at work.

mattd
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Re: Mixed feelings
mattd   8/1/2013 1:24:16 PM
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I do realize there is a lot to consider in the design of an appliance and lines have to be drawn somewhere, but to not give consideration to a toddler seeing a place to sit and using it...or what of the person who simply presses down on a bit too much while trying to get a large item into the lower rack.  I don't really think it is a case of not considering the loads, they have to have calculated some loads considering the lower rack pulls out onto the dishwasher door for loading and unloading; it's a case of being so cheap that they produced an inferior product to save a few pennies.

 

NadineJ
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Re: Mixed feelings
NadineJ   8/1/2013 1:35:12 PM
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The average 3 yr old is about 35 pounds.  I think it's unfair to expect an open dishwasher door to support that.  Part of parenting is helping kids navigate the world we live in (dishwasher door is not chair, the cat is not a chair, etc).

The fix was good.  It could be an aftermarket add-on offered to busy parents.

tekochip
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Re: Mixed feelings
tekochip   8/1/2013 2:03:46 PM
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Probably not monkeys at work, but......  the good people at Shure have overbuilt one of the most revered microphones for decades.  The SM57 is often dubbed "The Hammer" because of its a ability to shrug off the rigors of the road, and still sound great when plugged into the board night after night.  Is it because musical equipment manufacturers put more care into their product design, is it because musicians constantly critique their equipment with other musicians, or is it because musicians demand more from their products and are willing to pay the extra money for it?  I'll pick the latter.  You can buy 5 Chinese microphones for the price of an SM57, and I'll bet Shure still outsells them 5:1.
 
It kind of reminds me of "The Blues Bothers" when he traded the car for a microphone.  Nobody would do that for a dishwasher.


mattd
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Re: Mixed feelings
mattd   8/1/2013 2:28:37 PM
I have to disagree.  I have been in engineering for 29 years and as an engineer, a part of product development is to try as best to foresee all uses and reasonable abuses of a product and try within reason to mitigate any problems that may arise as a result.  No one can foresee everything and not everything can be mitigated, but in this case, I don't think it was too much to consider that a toddler might sit on the end of the door and the effect of mitigating the problem that creates is a VERY minimal increase in a part cost.  Change a stamped piece of plated metal from 10" to 30"...in a mass produced product like this, that's pennies.

Nancy Golden
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Re: Mixed feelings
Nancy Golden   8/1/2013 3:40:09 PM
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I think there should be some expectation but after carryying in a 30 lb. bag of dogfood - I think 35 lbs. is a bit much to expect. I really do like the author's fix though.

BobDJr
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Re: Mixed feelings
BobDJr   8/2/2013 10:04:21 AM
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@mattd: 30 years ago they were teaching their engineers to get the same function at lower cost.  I remember an exercise where we looked at the dual solenoid valve (hot and cold water) for a clothes washer. IIRC we took out 2 then 3 of 4 (5?) screws that held a plastic body to a metal plate.  (Sadly, this was all on paper; no actual parts were harmed in the training of us entry-level EE's & ME's back then.)

bob from maine
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Re: Mixed feelings
bob from maine   8/2/2013 10:23:16 AM
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I've spent a career re-designing and repairing things that probably could have been designed better. I've had heated discussions with engineers from all walks about the benefit of strengthening a part and the common answer is to question how much money should a manufacturer spend to correct a 0.2% problem? I think that the current crop of repairmen have great difficulty getting paid their hourly wage by making unauthorized repairs which switch the warranty costs from the manufacturer to them. A great many actually do make these repairs and their customers are happy to pay whatever it takes to own a product that is dependable. Though I've never seen a design that couldn't stand some form of improvement, I do think the most successful manufacturers are the ones that make the best balance between cost and longevity.

OLD_CURMUDGEON
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Re: Mixed feelings
OLD_CURMUDGEON   8/2/2013 2:44:05 PM
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 "....I do think the most successful manufacturers are the ones that make the best balance between cost and longevity."

OH!, you mean like the perpetually sleeping MAYTAG repairman when it was MAYTAG, and NOT WHIRLPOOL-MAYTAG????????

Someone else in this rant hinted on the problem.... I think that with the almost infinite power of the company's computer system at the hands of the Marketing & "Bean-Counter" depts., they look at the statistics of every minute detail of design, and shave wherever & whenever it can be done.

One MUST constantly remind oneself when screaming at a faulted appliance OR, for that matter, any other piece of merchandise, "the ONLY real goal of any for-profit corporation is to make a realizable monetary return to their investors.  EVERYTHING else is secondary!!!!!

bob from maine
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Re: Mixed feelings
bob from maine   8/2/2013 4:13:53 PM
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As a tool buyer/user I recognize there are industrial, commercial and home-owner grades of tools. The dishwashers from GE are obviously of the home-owner grade. The convection ovens used in resturaunts cost big $$ but run continuously for many years. Convection ovens for hosehold use cost probably a tenth of the commercial units and have a life expectancy of 10 years of fairly light use. We really do get what we pay for. I note that  there is a lot of high-end and high $$ appliances coming from Europe. One wonders what the target audience these European companies are seeking. Also, what are their margins compared to GE?

zeeglen
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Gold
Re: Mixed feelings
zeeglen   8/6/2013 8:09:15 PM
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Back in the 80's we moved into a home with a pre-owned dishwasher, can't remember the make but was old when we inherited it.  Had 4 boys, they used the open door as a step to climb onto the countertop when parents were not looking.  That door held up.

The point being that maybe today's marketeers don't believe that a dishwasher door should require a few cents extra to support the weight of a toddler.  And unfortunately today's marketeers are over-ruling the engineers...

OLD_CURMUDGEON
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AMBIVALENT
OLD_CURMUDGEON   8/2/2013 8:48:14 AM
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When I saw the title, I knew I'd be in for reading a "juicy" tale of how the consumer is again being ripped off by inferior appliance products.  However, after reading through the text & the comments, my emotions are considerably tempered.  I agree w/ BOTH sides in this debate.  It's hard for me to believe that NONE of the engineering team designing this appliance had young children at home, and so would have first-hand awareness of the unpredicatable antics of a 3 year old.  That being said, there is great disparity in the weights of 3 year olds, and so what test weight do the design engineers use in assessing the strength of the door? 

The response from GE I think could always be predicted, since they're well aware that ANY admission of culpability COULD lay them bare for a massive recall, should a gov't agency get involved.  One has only to look at the rigorous defense stance that the automotive industry assumes when faced with any product deficiency issues.

in this particular instance of the dishwasher, it would be interesting to observe what effect a 35# weight would have on a SIEMENS washer, or an LG washer, or a WHIRLPOOL washer.  Would they survive?

GTOlover
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Re: AMBIVALENT
GTOlover   8/2/2013 9:20:08 AM
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I have to agree about the diverse weight of three year olds. My first born started out at 13 pounds (My wife is still recovering from that one 19 years later)! By age three he was the size of a 5 to 7 year old (he was not fat, he is now over 7 feet tall)! No engineer could anticipate his needs (even modern automobiles fail in this regard)!

However, I have had to fix a whirlpool door in a similar manner. Not from children sitting on the door. Rather children slamming the door open. They were notorious for opening the door and throwing it open. One too may times and the plastic door popped. Had to re-inforce the door with a couple of galvanized angle iron bought at the local home improvement store. I would ask, does the dishwasher manufacture do reliability testing (like slamming open the door)?

Charles Murray
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Re: AMBIVALENT
Charles Murray   8/5/2013 7:08:10 PM
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Yikes, GTOlover, seven-feet-tall is a big boy. I have two tall ones (6'-6" and 6'7") who both have trouble fitting into vehicles. Men who are about 6'-6" are at roughly the third standard deviation for height, and my impression is that product designers often don't care about those who are at the third standard deviation and beyond. I'm sure your seven-footer has problems with cars and clothes and probably other products, as well.

GTOlover
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Re: AMBIVALENT
GTOlover   8/6/2013 8:20:54 AM
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Charles, you bring up a good point and I think it is related to the discussion here, do designers consider the extremes? Both in terms of loading and volume. I would like to tell you that my son is unique at that hieght, but his uncle is also 7 feet. He plays basketball with a few other guys that are upward of 6'8". They all have issues with fitting our average and standard deviation designs.

As I have stated, my dishwasher door needed my "engineered" fix due to cyclical loads (slamming the dishwasher door open). Did the designer consider that the door would be forcefully flung open? Did he consider a mild to heavy load may be placed upon the open door? Maybe they did and made a compromise. In the opinoin of this consumer (and me) the company was cheap. Had I known of this compromise, I may have opted for a different brand (which I will look for in the future).

I currently work in a design group responsible for commercial aircraft interiors, we have (to the best of my knowledge) never considered how a 7 foot person would sit on an airplane. We do consider short people (as in children). How does a tall man fit into a small car (or EV/hybrid)? The best fit for most tall men seems to be the full sized trucks (usually with an extended cab). My son does not fit through a standard door without ducking under. How about the short persons at an ATM or even the Walmart checkout counter needing to slide the debit card through the reader?

Keldawwg
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Re: AMBIVALENT
Keldawwg   8/6/2013 5:21:33 PM
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Well, I think this is pathetic, and a shining example of just why US made products are losing the battle for world-wide acceptance...

My wife has a lot of Le Creuset pots and pans... If she fills the bottom rack of our dishwasher with 4 of these monsters, then there is more than 35 pounds resting on that door... A substantial amount more, probably...

Plus, we have 3 dogs and if someone pulls the lower rack out and starts filling the dishwasher, and walks out of the kitchen back into the dining room, the 3 pugs (that weigh about 20~25 pounds each will all be up on the door sniffing and trying to lick the pans...

But we have a Miele dishwasher, and it has been absolutely flawless for about 16 years... It has yet to have it's first malfunction, and nothing has broken... (My wife has bent some of the plastic coated wire that makes up the lower rack... Those pans are heavy!)

Sigh... Buy a Miele...

Larry M
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Re: AMBIVALENT
Larry M   8/6/2013 5:58:45 PM
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Keldawwg wrote: "My wife has a lot of Le Creuset pots and pans... If she fills the bottom rack of our dishwasher with 4 of these monsters, then there is more than 35 pounds resting on that door..."

Ahh, but remember your physical mechanics class from college. A 35-lb toddler at the edge of a 2-foot door is imparting 70 ft-lb of torque (moment) at the failure point.  (Conflating lbs-force with lbs-mass here but it's okay for this comparison).

50 lbs of pots in the rack, where the rack is supported by wheels at both extreme ends imparts only 50 ft-lbs of torque to the failure point. (The inside wheels contribute a downward force but no rotational force.) Simple algebra shows that as you move both wheel sets inward from the extreme rack edges, the torque gain from moving the inner set outward is exactly cancelled by the torque-reduction from moving the outer set inward. Hence the torque is always 50 ft-lb regardless of where the wheel-sets are symmetrically placed.

Now, if you really want some Whirlpool dishwasher monkey stories, ask me about the door lift springs which seem to break off at the hook about every two years. But you don't have to buy new ones. Just take the old ones off and bend the next loop up 90 degrees to make a new hook. I seem to have done this three or four times, taking off half a loop each time and they are still functioning. (They might not break so quickly if I were to heat them at the bend point with a torch before bending, but I haven't tried that.)

Or you could ask me about the wisdom (? !!) of running 10 amps for the heating element through a Molex connector that's surely not rated for the current. They burn up quite nicely, and if the FR4 circuit card scorches, it will stink up the kitchem quite well. You can't get the card any more, and I didn't trust the connector, so I just bypassed it, soldering short leads directly to the switch leads and using inline "bullet" connectors to connect to the wiring harness.

Keldawwg
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Gold
Re: AMBIVALENT
Keldawwg   8/7/2013 2:11:34 PM
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Yes, I know... But the weight of those pans, plus 2 or 3 dogs standing on the door is surely putting more load on it than a 35 pound toddler sitting at the edge. I don't really know how much load that door would take, but I would not be surprised if you could put 100 pounds on the edge of the door without breaking anything. It's a tank.

When I took out the GE dishwasher that flooded my kitchen without warning, I picked it up and carried it out the sliding glass door and thru the gate and put it in the back of my truck to take it to the dump... The door and the gate were closed, I opened them without putting the GE down... If that thing weighed 70 Lbs I would be surprised...

The Miele I had to get help with to get it off the pallet... That thing weighed almost what my fridge weighs... It was a job for two fairly big guys (I'm 6'4" and 215 lbs) to carry it into the house...

I have owned a furniture dolly for a lot of years now, but the Miele hasn't shown any sign of breaking... If it breaks, there is no question what dishwasher I will replace it with...

ungarata
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Disagree - this is not a monkey design issue
ungarata   8/2/2013 9:14:32 AM
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If the dishwasher door had failed due to the weight of a loaded rack of dishes, then it would be monkey-designed.  To fail under the load of something other than a loaded rack of dishes is completely reasonable.  A small child sitting on the very edge of the door puts a much larger moment on the door than a loaded rack, which is usually "evenly" distributed over the door (the rack on my dishwasher has six wheels on it).

 

If you want to make the case that the plastic design is cheap and inferior to steel, that's valid, but you will find that low-cost appliances are built with low-cost methods, so again this shouldn't be a surprise. 

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Disagree - this is not a monkey design issue
Ann R. Thryft   8/2/2013 12:58:35 PM
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I agree that the toddler test may not be fair or appropriate, and the child's weight--35 pounds--is nothing to sniff at. But designing a door that must be opened and closed hundreds of times during its lifetime without a frame and with inadequate hinges sounds like a very cheap approach to what's not at all a cheap-looking model. Yet another line of appliances to avoid, and also a good fix.



Alan55
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Dishwasher Failed the Toddler Test
Alan55   8/2/2013 10:23:15 AM
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Perhaps GE can offer the child membership in Weight Watchers to  compensate for the marginal design.

npitech
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Iron
Not the design
npitech   8/2/2013 12:53:35 PM
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Can't blame the designers. Most projects are prioritized with three criteria: factory cost, schedule and performance.  Management chooses the order for each project. If either factory cost or schedule came ahead of performance you can bet the mechanical designer was ordered to cut corners. 

 Another scenario where the designer was left out is when original designs are outsourced and the contract manufacturer is judged on cost. Designs are changed to accomodate local suppliers and their capabilities and part selection is based on cost, not performance.

 

mattd
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Re: Not the design
mattd   8/2/2013 1:20:47 PM
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I am not necessarily just blaming the designers, but the company as a whole.  Yes the way I put it does direct more at the designers and you are corect that the project has a lot more input than just the engineers; however, I have butted heads with management and customers alike on projects where what they want is not right and for the most part, I win.  So from an engineer point of view (my point of view) I put most of the blame on the engineers for not refusing to allow such a poor design to be produced.  That said though, the blame does go to the whole company and is just one of the "applicance driven" reasons I will never again purchase an appliance made by GE.

As for the requirements, I don't think my toddler was up to 35 pounds yet, that number was introduced by someone else commenting, however, the addition of two strips of aluminum angle, held to the hinges by the mounting screws (as opposed to being a solid extension of the hinge metal) easily extended the doors' capacity to handle that toddler and a few more after!

szyhxc
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Iron
They do NOT know their customer
szyhxc   8/2/2013 7:25:34 PM
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I have a medium size dog (30 lbs) that is always checking out the non-GE dishwasher contents from atop the open door.  I have not suffered the same damage and would not be pleased if I did.

Jim_E
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Platinum
GE dishwasher design
Jim_E   8/5/2013 11:11:09 AM
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We have a "builder's grade" GE dishwasher that came with our house when it was built.  After upgrading our countertops to a dark color, I decided to paint the front of our white dishwasher black, to match the new countertops.  I figured that I'd just remove the metal front fascia and paint it.

When I started to disassemble the thing, I was aghast that the thin metal front was the entire structural support of the door!  It was basically the thin outside metal, and a molded plastic interior.  Really small, thin pieces of metal at the bottom by the hinge if I recall correctly.  I'm amazed that the front of the dishwasher doesn't warp or get damaged in normal use.

Yes, I was able to successfully paint the front and get the unit back together again.  Not the best solution since the plastic operator panel up top is still while, but it looks better than it used to.

AnnomousCoward
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Iron
different perspective
AnnomousCoward   8/6/2013 4:14:19 PM
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as a design engineer for an oil serives company, we take just the opposite perspective. We build things assuming they are going to be climbed on, stood on, jumped on, hammered on, and when they cant find a way to break it, they will "soil" it.

bobjengr
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Platinum
TODDLER TEST
bobjengr   8/6/2013 6:11:53 PM
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Hello Bob.  I retired from GE and although in the cooking products group, I can attest to the fact there are "price points" (hate those words) that basically determine the construction and materials within consumer products.   Down and dirty--the builders' models, then mid-range (GE), then high range (Profile) then the "good stuff" (Monogram). GE figures the largest group of home owners move every four (4) years.  There are numbers that substantiate this fact.  This also factors into decisions made at management levels.  I was excoriated during one meeting when I made the comment I would love to have time and money to create and design a truly excellent product.  "Quality and great design" are too costly.  Good is usually good enough".  What else can I say?   

AnandY
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Gold
Re- Lousy equipments
AnandY   8/11/2013 3:59:54 AM
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Regardless of the place of use of an equipment I think the machine should be made to withstand the normal strains like children and small accidents, lacing plastic on the dishwasher only reflects the kind of equipments that are in the market all in the name of 'they are domestic'. The machines are bought to be used for an undefined period of time thus spending a few coins on its durability would go a long way.

Cadman-LT
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Platinum
Re: Re- Lousy equipments
Cadman-LT   8/15/2013 9:21:30 AM
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Yes...your dishwasher isn't a freakin jungle gym dummy! My wife doesn't swing off the microwave door!!!!

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