Yesterday I threw away an unrepairable pressure washer which stopped working after only half a dozen uses. The electric motor burned out. (A replacement motor, had I been willing to wait 4-6 weeks for delivery, would have cost almost as much as the original washer.) Of course, the warranty had expired.
It was a moderately priced unit purchased at Sears. After each use it was drained and stored inside. A similar unit purchased at Sears by my dad almost 15 years ago is still functioning after scores of uses.
We have discussed before the decline of “quality” in our civilization. This is not the conclusion of a scientific study, but it is a growing opinion among those of us who have purchased junk in the last few years. A friend who is a contractor recently observed that what was once considered “contractor grade” material is now priced as premium, and premium quality material is almost impossible to find. (He searches salvage stores and estate sales to find quality in items made decades ago.) This may be another consequence of the steep decline in the purchasing power of the dollar, but that’s a discussion of “quality” for another time.
Since beginning this discussion, the new Briggs and Stratton pressure washer we ordered was delivered. It was American made, supposedly in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It looks like a tool, with metal parts and heavy duty connectors, while the one it replaced looked more like a toy. It took a lot more devalued dollars to purchase this unit than the discarded toy.
Appearances are deceiving. We found two loose screws in the box which did not fit anything we could find on the pressure washer. Too bad they didn’t fit the pump, which was missing two screws and hanging loose on top of the unit.
At the top of the warranty it says, “Do not return this unit to the store.” So we called Briggs and Stratton’s toll free number. We were on hold about 45 minutes. The customer service representative was very nice and seemed to have a sincere desire to help us, but she had a limited command of the English language and a heavy accent which made communication very difficult. Eventually I was given to understand that Briggs and Stratton was kindly offering, not to replace the unit, but to give me the opportunity to drive the washer 30 miles to the nearest authorized repair shop.
The lighting fixtures we bought at Home Depot two years ago are already rusting. The Lenovo computer a friend purchased less than a month ago turned into a brick. The new door we purchased, which cost more than my first car, came with pre-installed scratches.
Just a small window into the state of modern business practice, where much study and expense has gone into being able to get and keep our money, with less emphasis on quality and pride of workmanship.