November 28, 2023

That Really Bunches My Panties . . . by Brendon Marks


A friend showed me a message printed near the bottom edge on the back of a record album jacket:
“This Columbia GUARANTEED HIGH FIDELITY recording is scientifically designed to play with the highest quality of reproduction on the phonograph of your choice, new or old. If you are the owner of a new stereophonic system, this record will play with even more brilliant true-to-life fidelity. In short, you can purchase this record with no fear of its becoming obsolete in the future.”
I’d like to speak to someone about that.

I will admit that at one time you might have had to resort to such tactics in order to entice someone into buying an album by Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys, but that’s not the point. I think we should take the CEO of Columbia Records and hold his feet to the fire until his company lives up to that promise. Even if you did purchase this album along with eleven others for only one cent when you joined the Columbia Record Club, they should not be allowed to make statements like that without being held responsible.

I would also like to discuss the box of eight-track tapes I have. Boy, that was a good idea. Right up there with Beta videotapes.

If some of you don’t have any idea what I’m talking about, that’s exactly my point. Very soon there won’t be a person in the world under thirty years of age that owns a 33 1/3 rpm record unless he inherited from his grandparents or found it at a landfill; 45’s are even worse. Kids wonder why there’s a big hole in the middle of that coaster. Or why isn’t it shiny like other compact disks?

Another area where I’ve seen a similar trend is in plumbing parts, I firmly believe that whenever I buy a part, the manufacturer is notified to immediately discontinue making that part or anything similar. It used to be if your bathroom faucet dripped, you could shut off the water, replace the washer, and be all set for at least another year. But now if your new, modern, washer-less, bathroom faucet drips you have shut off the water, replace the faucet, sink, vanity, riser, shutoff valve, and all of the pipe clear back to the water heater. And if your water heater is over five years old, you can plan on getting a hernia or ruptured disk replacing that too.

When was the last time you tried to get a TV fixed? Did you ever imagine that the time would come that a sane person would pay over $500 for basically a disposable item?

I’m sure the manufacturers of these items did not embark on the venture with the idea that the product would become obsolete so soon. I certainly don’t have visions of several guys sitting around a conference table while one says, “Our market research shows that we can sell these for about six weeks before anyone catches on.” Or, “Our competitor has a better product, but they’re a month behind so we need to sell as many as we can in that month. Just be careful that we don’t get caught with too much inventory.” But it’s possible. What if they did?

How can we prevent this from happening? Well, I have a suggestion.

I think every product should have a life expectancy as well as a warranty. If the company discontinues a product before the life expectancy runs out, you get your money back or an upgrade to the newer model. There should also be a parts life too, like double the life expectancy. If a product breaks down and you can’t get parts – instant refund.

This idea would cause an increase in product price due to extra engineering, development, and testing costs, but in the long run it would be cheaper due to increased product life and car manufacturers could concentrate on working the bugs out of existing models instead of producing a new model every year. You would also have another factor to consider when deciding which product to purchase.

Like the album jacket says, “In short, you can purchase this product with no fear of its becoming obsolete in the future.”

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