Corporate Irresponsibility – Buyer Beware

No matter what you think of our big brothers (corporations), if they expect to be treated as "persons" – they have responsibilities to you and me, their customers, and to the environment from which they earn their copious profits.

I'm sorry, I'm on a rampage. But I can't believe I'm the only one out here who's had enough. Tell me what you think.

I just bought a "new" used vacuum. By way of disclaimer, in the end it turned out to be a heck of a deal – much better than I had envisioned. But we'll get to that.

Now, normally good vacuums are not cheap and if you happen to get one you really like, you want to hold on to it awhile. I had such a one. It was a bagless Dirt Devil. It did everything I needed. Being a single person and not a "clean freak" I figured it should last the rest of my life. That's really not asking much since I'm older than at least half of the people in the US.

One day I was cleaning. I saw some cobwebs in the corner, set my vacuum to the side, grabbed a chair and a rag, climbed up to eradicate the buggers and. did the deed. Then I stepped back to get down from the chair. I miss calculated and fell backward right onto the vacuum cleaner. No don't worry. I didn't hurt myself…no scratches, no bruises. But, I did shatter the dirt cup as I landed on top of the vacuum.

Now that I think about it, I could have / should have used the vacuum wand and avoided the mess I got myself into. But, alas, hindsight really is 20/20.

OK not a disaster. It was just a plastic piece and surely replace-able. Besides, I needed the hepa filter that sits inside it anyway. So I got on the phone and called the company to order the part.

A week and a half later after several calls to the company and to their local reps I discovered the folly of my thinking. I could readily get the hepa filter. But the dirt cup? There isn't one in existence at least any that can be found. The company had discontinued this part…no one scavenges vacuum parts and unless you happen to have a brand new machine, you're "s___ outta" luck, as they say.

So I threw away a perfectly good vacuum cleaner, working motor, metal pieces and all into the landfill. Then, I went out and bought another vacuum  – need I say it was NOT a Dust Devil?

Now don't feel bad. It turned out be an excellent buy. I found a vacuum that is almost a twin of the one I sent to the local dump…and it cost half of what I would have spend on the two parts I needed. – if I could have gotten them.

I'm sure I'm not the only on this planet who has been dismayed by business practices in this global technological culture because of similar experiences. And I'm sure the powers that be have all kinds of explanations about why companies do the things they do.

But right now I have some basic questions to ask.

We are trying to be ecologically responsible these days. We carry cloth bags to the grocer to cut down on paper and plastic bags, we recycle jars and plastic containers, we print on two sides of paper to save a tree, and compost what we can – What is the logic of being forced to throw a perfectly functional machine.with all it's metalic parts into a land fill for want of a plastic part (or similar one made of better materials less damaging to the environment)? 

Why the heck do companies insist on discontinuing manufacture of parts for machines that – with proper care – could be service-able 20-30 and more years (assuming that parts can be found to replace old ones when they wear out)? 

Manufacturing drives our economy. We understand that. But since when does manufacturing need to drive a disposable society? What's wrong with building manufacturing companies that seek out ways to extend the useful life of what we already have? Why is it necessary to build  early obsolescence into everything we buy?

Is there any reason that companies shouldn't be required to commit to keeping all parts for their products available so the useful life can be extended – and posting that commitment prominently on the machine so buyers can determine whether it's really worth purchasing? If buyers won't be able to get parts after six years for a product they expect to use for 15 or 20 years, they should know that up front.

Why is it necessary to build products that are designed to be obsolete in 3-4 years? Wouldn't it be more sensible to create products that consumers use in everyday life so that they will be useful for the better part of their lives? OK, technology is always improving and we do like better, for sure. But new isn't always better. Manufacturers, couldn't you create basic designs that can be added to and updated easily? You know, compatible interchangeable parts, ability to replace or add to the components of the basic product?

How many paper and plastic bags do I need to save in order to compensate for a vacuum cleaner that's just been consigned to the land fill?

Author: 7577JMM

Retired - Published Author, Editor, Webmistress, Artist, Musician