Nobody Fixes Stuff Anymore

The other day I was cleaning up some junk around the house, and threw out a lamp that got broken. OK, I stepped on the lamp and broke it. As I gathered the pieces to throw in the trash, I instinctively cut off the power cord, and began to wind it up for storage. See, for most of my life, if an electronic device went bad, I’d always clip that cord so it could be reused somewhere else. Oddly, I would almost always find a need for the power cord, and so it justified the simple act of clipping it from the lamp.

As I look back over the past few years, however, I see that trend going away. Even with all the hype about the need to recycle (which I agree with, don’t get me wrong), we’re being forced into a more disposable product mindset. Now, the lamp I stepped on needed to be thrown away. Trust me. But what about the broken VCR sitting on the top of my closet shelf? What about the television with a built in DVD player in my daughter’s room that will no longer play DVDs?

Unfortunately, we’re at a place in the development of our society, that it’s often cheaper to buy a new product than fix the old one. Do you even know where a television repair shop exists near you? I sure don’t. If you could find one, it would seem likely they’d charge $40-$50 and hour to work on electronic equipment. If you’re talking about a broken DVD player, there’s absolutely no reason to spend ANY money on repair when you can buy a new one for less money. Yes, there are more expensive models that do warrant a repair job, but those are almost always warranty issues that are fixed by the manufacturer for free.

And don’t get me started on computers. Especially for those people running low-end hardware, which means a huge portion of the population, buying a new computer is almost always more economical than having their current model repaired. If you only spend $400 on a computer to begin with, why would you even consider spending a few hundred dollars to have a repair man fix a computer that is a generation behind what’s currently for sale at Walmart? You just go buy the new computer, and throw out the old one. (Actually, you usually donate the piece of junk to a local school, where the tech staff has to decide how to best dispose of the thing anyway…)

I don’t have an answer to the problem. The lamp cord just got me thinking, and this is the result. 🙂

5 thoughts on “Nobody Fixes Stuff Anymore

  1. The Radio Shack has been owned by the same guy for 30 years. He used to do a lot of electronics repair. He’s told me that he won’t even bother with 99% of consumer electronics these days. According to him it’s far more expensive to repair the majority of appliances and electronics then to replace them anymore.

    Changing technologies has is a cause for this trend but so the fake marketing hype that anything more than 5 years old is junk. In TV’s and media players the technology changes quickly so it kinda makes sense. Why is it the same for washing machines and stoves though?

    I’m guilty of it to though. I just had to have the black and chrome oven that DIY network says all the cool kids are buying. It’s somehow better than the white oven that was better than black or creme 5 years ago right?

  2. I actually tried to repair a 19″ LCD that quit working the other day. I decided that due to the symptoms, it was probably just a burnt out light, and I figured that would be an easy fix.

    Truth of the matter? I spent a good bit of time trying to get the monitor open, I never did actually see the bulbs, though I saw the location they must have been in. I decided to Google before proceeding further and found that there are two bulbs, and an inverter. In order to buy a new inverter, I would need to take the old inverter out and find a model number, or compare the inverter to pictures until I found a match. I was also looking at about half the price of the monitor for the inverter, and another half the price per bulb for two bulbs. Likely it was just the inverter (what are the odds both bulbs went at once?), but how crappy would it be to spend half the price of a new monitor on a part that didn’t actually need to be replaced?

    Decision: junk the monitor and buy a new (larger) LCD instead. It’s the cost-effective thing to do.

  3. Oh, and there is, or was, a TV repair shop just a few blocks from my house. I’m not sure, but I think it went out of business a couple years ago. I should check.

  4. We had a TV repair shop in town, but it went out of business years ago, because it wasn’t cost-effective to repair consumer electronics any more. What needs to be done is to have a better recycling policy in this country. You can recycle electronics, but then they (usually) get shipped overseas for the actual recycling, which is a dirty, unsafe, and not environmentally friendly, although the reduction and removal of mercury in newer electronics and the replacement of picture tubes with today’s monitors and TVs is helping in this area.

  5. True, there are far fewer electronics repair shops left, but we’re still out there. What you’ve seen in consolidation of the small repair fix-it shops into larger companies. But there are still some local guys left, we’ve just had to get bigger to stay competitive.

    I disagree that there are no appliances or electronics worth fixing anymore. Sure, SOME are definitely NOT worth fixing due to the extremely low price they were marketed with to begin with.

    Your larger TVs are still a worthy repair, if the price is reasonable in comparison to replacement. Unfortunately, we all want new flat screen plasmas and LCDs with HDTV and 1080p, etc. Sometimes this the decision to fix it seems wrong because we desire an awesome new television. As a gadget man, I can sympathize.

    My guess for an average repair on todays larger televisions would be $250-400. My numbers are based on this being in-home service, and are based on the Alabama market. Your mileage may vary.

    Frankly, if you spent $1600 or more on a TV, I think it’s worth putting $350 into it for a few more years of entertainment.

    As for appliances, there’s a limit to how cheaply they can be priced, since they still remain (largely) heavy, metal machines. (Boy, that phrase will attract some interesting traffic to your site).

    Once again, I think appliances are worth repairing if the price of repair is reasonable compared to the costs of replacement. I say costs with an ‘s’ because you have to consider price, tax, installation, your time, your headaches, etc.

    As long as you’re not spending much more than half of the replacement costs for a new model of your appliance or electronic product, it’s still worth it. But, coming from a servicer, you can take that with as many grains of salt as you like.

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