I still use my old Amana. It was a LOT more expensive than $50, back in 1981 - but it has never failed, and I've only replaced the light bulb once to boot. I've never noticed the current draw, but maybe it's always been on a lightly used circuit. I like to think that the defense company that once owned it put the high-rel design and mfg effort into it that made it so expensive, and maybe that's why it turned out to be an incredible money loser for them. Four children have abused this item (and the youngest will turn 20 this year). I'm probably risking the curse by saying this, but it will probably outlast me.....unless the government outlaws it for some reason.
I agree that quality is affected by business decisions, but citing the desire to maximize profits means your set includes all companies, so that doesn't explain why some of those companies make bad decisions and others don't. The point about offshoring is that once that started, it became a lot tougher to manage all the details, including quality assurance, for multiple reasons, many of which are obvious. That's still the case, at least for many areas of Asia, to the point that it spurred the reverse trend, onshoring. And I drive Asian cars, too: specifically, Japanese cars. The Japanese are known for very high quality standards, in fact, better than in the US. They listened to Deming going on about TQM and Six Sigma long before we did.
I drive an Asian made car without issues for 12 years now while my neighbor is on his third US made Ford. We drive about the same amount. Maybe he just got a lemon twice in a row, but quality is a matter of business decisions, not production location. Offshoring is mainly done to make use of lower labor costs, not for the sake of producing junk.
I disagree. The desire to maximize profits is a constant, not a variable. But most consumer products sold in the US are now made in Asia. Offshoring has a lot to do with the quality problem because of the difficulty of managing quality control and other details at a distance. This has been a well-known, ongoing problem in both products and services ever since this trend began in the 80s.
Offshoring or outsourcing has less to do with it than maximizing profits does. A cheaper plastic, a thinner pin, even if it only saves a 10th of a cent on each item. It doesn't matter who or where the product is assembled. I've came across a lot of garbage 'Made in USA', so that doesn't mean much.
Tool_maker, thanks for the idea on where to find older, used appliances. Thankfully, I don't need them yet, but had started wondering where I could find them when I do. And that's a really good point about the dangers of reworking the latch: you could fry a lot more than your food if doing so caused leakage.
Ann, I agree with your analogy inexpensive etc. I have read so many laments in this Made By Monkeys about applliances that it scares me about buying new. As a result I am ever vigilantly on the look out for appliances at estate sales. We have 6 micowaves (home, office, lake house and all three kids' homes) all purchased at estate sales. None cost more than $25 and all perform well.
As for the faulty latch, I would hesitate to rework the closing mechanism. One of our customers makes commercial grade microwaves and I was shocked at the amount of engineering and testing that goes into the design to assure there is no leakage before it is allowed onto the market.
What bugs me is that the cheapest appliances used to work just fine and last a long time; they just didn't have the bells and whistles of the more expensive models. That was before both offshoring/outsourcing and before the throwaway consumer product concept really took hold. Now you have to buy high end on many appliances just to get them to work right and for a decent period of time. Offshored/.outsourced doesn't have to mean poor quality: but it often means poor oversight, resulting in the same thing.
Inexpensive does sometimes mean poor quality, and it is sound reasoning that a product costs less should be inferior and have a shorter life span than a more expensive model, but sometimes this is not the case. As a kid, I wanted to new pair of fishing pliers. My choices were either $3 for a needlenose set in the hardware aisle or $7 for needle nose pliers in the fishing aisle that were marketed to be made exclusively for fishing use. They were hyped to be especially water resistant and designed to easily cut nylon line. I paid the $7 and got the better pliers. The first fishing trip went great, but before going out on the second trip, the pliers had already rusted so bad that they could not close properly, and the cutting section had serious dings from cutting line. I had to go back to the store and buy the hardware pliers that I still have 30 years later. Sometimes the higher cost only pays for the name.
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Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.