Author Topic: The REAL price of buying inferior goods- IT IS AMAZING!!!  (Read 3545 times)

Offline tankman1989

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The REAL price of buying inferior goods- IT IS AMAZING!!!
« on: September 21, 2009, 12:19:00 AM »
Due to the fact that the majority of the products which are sold in the US are made outside of the US, there is an ever increasing reason to build products with a shorter life span and some items have what is called planned obsolescence. An example of this may be an electric can opener. Your grandmother may have one which she purchased in the 50's of 60's and it is a solid, heavy appliance. She may have paid $30 (in today's dollars) for this piece of equipment. Now you, being a young adult, may just have purchased a new electric can opener (let's say an Oster Metallic Electic Can Opener, from Target) for $19 + tax. Now this can opener may look a lot nicer than your grandmothers and does the same job but I am willing to put good money on that this device will not last more than 3 years with the same use that your grandmother's can opener endured. When this item breaks, most people don't look to get it fixed, they simply throw it out.
Now what I want to know is why can we not build a can opener that is as good as the one your grandmother had, that will last just as long, for the same price as the one you just bought at Target. With the advances in technology and manufacturing, surly this can be made to last basically forever under normal use (not trying to cut the edge off a car rim or something like that). I think there are a number of factors at play here. First is the use of plastics. While they are great for some applications because they are cheap, light in weight, easy to produce in the shape which is needed, and plastic is somewhat plentiful. The problem with many plastics is that they are not as durable as metal. In the case of the can opener, there are gears and cogs that have teeth on them. When the can is mis-aligned or some other mal-function happens within the machine, these teeth can be stripped rendering the device useless. Now if these were made of metal, the same thing could happen, but it is much more likely that it would cause a built in protection breaker to pop and the gears wouldn't be ground down. Even if there wasn't a breaker, the metal gars can take magnitudes more abuse than the plastic gears.
To make things even worse, the plastic isn't that much cheaper than the metal as steel is very cheap and plastic, which usually is a petroleum based product, can fluctuate with the cost of oil which is manipulated by investment speculators, wars, governments, etc.
Anyway, now that you have a destroyed can opener, you have to dispose of it and buy a new one. You may look for a better one but you are probably going to find that all the good ones still utilize a lot of plastic somewhere within the product. Only when you find a commercial product, which may cost you $150-300 FOR A CAN OPENER! Will you find one that has all metal parts and will hold up to the one that your grand mother had. Why is this?
Let's estimate that a family of 5 will go through one can opener ever 4 years for 30 years (we will say 8 can openers). Now lets figure out how much these can openers actually cost you over the long run, and where the money is going. (I am not figuring in inflation as that is too difficult and doesn't really effect the outcome as we are talking in REAL dollars)

Target $19.00 x state/local sales tax (7.35%) = 20.40 ($1.40 state sales tax)
8 purchases from Target = $152
8 Purchases Tax collected = $11.20
Total for the 8 purchases = $163.20 out of your pocket
(Note avg state sales tax is calculated using a weighted system where the state's population is taken into consideration, eg California's 9.15% is weighted greater than Wyoming's 5.4%

Now compare that to Grandma's 55 year old $30 can opener.

Now, you also have to realize that the government makes a lot more money than the $11.20 on these can openers. I will list what I know of but I am sure that I will miss some. This will be the last list after we figure out the total cost of these pieces of junk.

Unseen expenses in acquiring the can opener
Consumer drives to and from store (15 miles) ¾ gal gas @ $2.75 = $2.06
8 trips = $16.48
Wear and tear on car 21.4 cents / mile = $3.21 (Figures from a government commuting cost site)
8 trips = $25.68
Total gas wear & tear = $42.16
Now the total that is being spent on these can openers over the 30 years is money that is available to you AFTER tax. I am going to assume that the average tax rate is 28% (Fed, State, Local, Social Sec, unemployment, etc)
Total Out of pocket after tax money = $163.20 + $42.16 = $205.36
To buy these can openers, you need to make money. Figuring a 28% tax rate, you would have to make $285.22 at your job, as a 28% deduction would leave you with $205.36. This would take you14.5 hours @ $19.75, or 43.5 hours at minimum wage.
So the actual cost you you is $285.22 (before taxes) for these cheap pieces of crap can openers.

Now you have to factor in your time to acquire these can find and acquire these can openers.
Time spent going to Target, in store, buying, at home unpacking, etc = 50 mins
National median income = $39,509 or $19.75/hr
At 50 mins per trip this equals $16.46 or $131.68 after the 8 trips.
I am also going to assume that many savvy shoppers will look for the best deal and I am going to include 1 hour total for all 8 can openers researching for sales, ad's INTERNET etc = $19.75
The total time lost in this process is 7.67 hours at the median income level of $19.75/hr your out $151.43

At the end, here is what these inferior products are taking from you:$436.65!!!!!

That comes out to $54.58 per can opener! You could have purchased two commercial/industrial quality can openers for this price and they would have worked much better and probably looked nicer. They probably would be much more functional and not leave sharp edges on the opened cans.

Now, here is where the money goes:

Gas tax
transport from china (shipping)
Shipping from docks to warehouse distribution center for manufacturer
Manufacturer distributes to retailer
Retailer distributes to Local store/outlet
Consumer drives to/from location

Import Tariff
Tax that goes to the Fed to bring product into country

Federal Corporate Income Tax
Retail store pays cooperate income tax on product sold

State income tax
Retail store pays cooperate income tax on product sold

Local Income Tax
Retail store pays cooperate income tax on product sold

Now, tell me, is it in the GOOBERMENT's best interest to create products which last a VERY long time and are the best quality?

Offline chris

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Re: The REAL price of buying inferior goods- IT IS AMAZING!!!
« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2009, 12:27:26 AM »
It's not just Chinese made goods. many American companies are turning out cheap junk as well. As to China, there's no incentive to make quality, but there is to make cheap. Because that's what strapped American consumers want. because the govt is soaking everyone through taxes. So its's all the govts fault.

Offline CountryRootsCityJob

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Re: The REAL price of buying inferior goods- IT IS AMAZING!!!
« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2009, 10:47:11 AM »
Well all I have to say is that is awesome!  Your post points out so well why its well worth the extra money to go out and buy something that is going to last instead of going to say, harbor freight and getting something cheap!  (although I have seen a few tools from HF far exceed my expectations for duration of lifespan!)

I think this is pointed out in the discussion on pressure cookers- I just don't have the link for that discussion... <sorry>

Offline HelenWheels

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Re: The REAL price of buying inferior goods- IT IS AMAZING!!!
« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2009, 12:07:01 PM »
A big part of it too is the need of the consumer-engine to keep chugging along.

That can-opener company only makes money as long as people buy things. If they make a can opener that lasts 30 years, they are going to have to do one of the following: diversify into other products, stay small and depend on low-volume of sales (a 30 year turn-over), go out of business, or limit the lifespan of their products to increase the volume of sales.

It's a vicious circle - make a cheap can opener so a lot of people will buy it, you make a lot of money, the cheap can opener breaks, you make another cheap can opener, a lot of people buy it, you make a lot of money....

My parents generation were able to save a lot of money because they got quality products when they were buying and didn't have to keep investing $$ every few years to buy a new washer/dryer/can opener/iron/toaster/refrigerator/stove. They also didn't buy new stuff just because the local Sears or JCPenney's rolled it out. When we cleaned out my grandmother's house after her death, she was still using the same Melmac melamine dishes that she had been using for 40 years.

I don't believe it will ever change unless the materialistic mind-set is uprooted.

Offline JLMissouri

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Re: The REAL price of buying inferior goods- IT IS AMAZING!!!
« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2009, 11:17:08 AM »
 I agree, I use to buy the cheapest thing that would get the job done, but over time realized that it is a better deal to buy something that will last even if it is ten times the price of the cheap good. A lot of the items I use every day are antique. When I go to buy something new I research and buy the best I can afford or find.

Offline evilphish

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Re: The REAL price of buying inferior goods- IT IS AMAZING!!!
« Reply #5 on: October 14, 2009, 09:20:00 AM »
The biggest area i've learned this lesson is with Tools.

A year ago I was looking for a set of nut drivers.  Went to Menard and saw a nice set of I believe Stanley for around 20 bucks.  right next to it was a 6 dollar "off brand"  bought the off brand. 

this past spring my thermal couple went on my furnace and i was excited to finally get to use the new tools.  went to Menards for the new thermal couple.  got home and started dismantling the furnace to replace it.  well the off brands tolerances weren't that great and ended up stripping a couple of the bolt heads.  then on the last bolt i was turning it and heard a crack.  the handle had broken on the nut drive.

drove bake to Menards, bought the better quality tools and some bolts. 

don't know how many cheap hammers i've snapped the handles on the list goes on and on. 

buy the right thing and buy the right thing once.

Offline mamabear

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Re: The REAL price of buying inferior goods- IT IS AMAZING!!!
« Reply #6 on: October 14, 2009, 09:36:03 AM »
This is one of the things that I have also noticed lately. I have been trying really hard to only buy what I absolutely need to start with, but also buy the "best" when I do buy something. I don't want want to buy it now, and then again in a few years. My vaccuum cleaners are a perfect example of this. Instead of just buying a good one several years ago, I bought a cheap one. I have since gone through four vaccuum cleaners. The last one I bought was not the best, but it is a good brand, and I am just hoping for it to work for a few years. Then I hope to never have carpet again. If I do, then I will buy the "best" one I can find as I will hopefully be in a better position financially.

Offline anthonyalston

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Re: The REAL price of buying inferior goods- IT IS AMAZING!!!
« Reply #7 on: October 14, 2009, 11:51:31 AM »
I follow a simple rule:

Buy it once, buy quality, and take care of it.

I have a pressure cooker from the early 50's that is still doing a good job.


Regards, Anthony

Offline TxMom

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Re: The REAL price of buying inferior goods- IT IS AMAZING!!!
« Reply #8 on: October 27, 2009, 12:33:15 AM »
Bicycles are a great example, the ones sold at the large chain stores or basically disposable bikes.   In fact many parents just buy a new one each Christmas.   The cheap bikes are hard to maintain and often have crooked wheels to start with.   We got so we bought bikes at a bike shop $200-300, no wonder people buy the cheap ones, but once we got the good ones, it has been years since we bought any, work better too.

I like quality.    Like not having to go to the store repeatedly.  Worse yet is when a tool breaks while using it.  Told my husband not to pick up the cheapest spade, etc.  If consumers didn't buy the cheap crap, they'd quit making it.

Flip side.

I have a son working on a senior design project, his team is  developing a prosthetic hand for 3rd world countries. someone already did much of the programming, but needed a better hand, one that'd hold up.   Currently the cost to build a hand is $30,000, and they are working at developing one for $1000 (parts and pieces).   Tough to do, but a possibility,  needing material that will hold up over time.   

Two questions:

1. If it is possible to build a hand that works at 1/30 the cost, then why don't we develop less expensive medical devices for our own country?  Why is our research to save others money, but not our own medical costs? 

2.  Initial hand prototype (before he started on project) used cheap plastic gears which fell apart during testing, looking for something durable.   If we can ever get medical care back to where we shop for our own medical care (instead of we have no idea what it'll cost but the insurance or government is paying for it--which means we do pay for it--just in denial) how to save production costs without inferior goods?