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Climate change: ‘Right to repair’ gathers force

January 9, 2019
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By Paul Homewood

 

Harrabin is uncritically promoting the latest EU attempt to save the planet:

 

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It is frustrating: you buy a new appliance then just after the warranty runs out, it gives up the ghost.

You can’t repair it and can’t find anyone else to at a decent price, so it joins the global mountain of junk.

You’re forced to buy a replacement, which fuels climate change from the greenhouse gases released in the manufacturing process.

But help is at hand, because citizens in the EU and parts of the USA will soon get a "right to repair" – of sorts.

This consists of a series of proposals from European environment ministers to force manufacturers to make goods that last longer and are easier to mend.

The European proposals refer to lighting, televisions and large home appliances.

At least 18 US states are considering similar laws in a growing backlash against products which can’t be prised apart because they’re glued together, or which don’t have a supply of spare parts, or repair instructions.

How will the Right to Repair happen?

European environment ministers have a series of proposals forcing manufacturers to make goods that last longer and are easier to mend. The European proposals refer to lighting, televisions and large home appliances.

Plans for the EU Ecodesign Directive are complex and controversial. Manufacturers say the proposed rules on repairability are too strict and will stifle innovation.

Consumer campaigners complain the EU Commission has allowed firms to keep control of the repair process by insisting some products are mended by professionals under the control of manufacturers.

The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) said: “This restricts the access of independent repairers to spare parts and information – and that limits the scope and affordability of repair services.” The EEB also wants other products like smart phones and printers included in the legislation.

How will it help the environment?

Green groups say legislation under way in Europe and the US represents progress towards saving carbon emissions and using resources more wisely.

Libby Peake from the think tank Green Alliance told BBC News: “The new rules are a definite improvement. We think they could have been better, but it’s good news that at last politicians are waking up to an issue that the public have recognised as a problem for a long time. The new rules will benefit the environment and save resources.”

What has driven the changes?

The policies have been driven by some arresting statistics.

  • One study showed that between 2004 and 2012, the proportion of major household appliances that died within five years rose from 3.5% to 8.3%.
  • An analysis of junked washing machines at a recycling centre showed that more than 10% were less than five years old.
  • Another study estimates that because of the CO2 emitted in the manufacturing process, a long-lasting washing machine will generate over two decades 1.1 tonnes less CO2 than a short-lived model.
  • Many lamps sold in Europe come with individual light bulbs that can’t be replaced. So when one bulb packs in, the whole lamp has to be jettisoned.

Isn’t it better to scrap an old appliance and buy a more efficient one?

This is no simple question. Resource analysts say, as a rule of thumb, if your current appliance is old and has a very low energy efficiency rating, it can sometimes be better in terms of lifetime CO2 emissions to replace it with a new model rated A or AA. In most other cases it produces fewer emissions sticking with the old model.

There’s another debate about how readily consumers should be allowed to mend appliances. The Right to Repair movement wants products that can be fully disassembled and repaired with spare parts and advice supplied by the manufacturer.

Some manufacturers fear that bungling DIY repairers will damage the machines they’re trying to fix, and potentially render them dangerous.

One industry group, Digital Europe, said: “We understand the political ambition to integrate strict energy and resource efficiency aspects in Ecodesign, but we are concerned that some requirements are either unrealistic or provide no added value.

“The draft regulations limit market access, deviate from internationally-recognised best practices and compromise intellectual property.”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-46797396

 

The one question he does not raise is whether these latest slew of regulations will simply put up prices for these consumer goods.

One of the big advantages of the way TVs and other home appliances are produced these days is that the use of integrated circuit boards and other parts reduce production costs. (Compare TVs now with the 1970s version which had umpteen valves and goodness knows what else).

Harrabin’s logic is spurious anyway. He claims that we scrap appliances much sooner than we used to. There is, however, a very good reason for this. The cost of buying a new fridge or TV is much less than it was, even a few years ago. Economically it simply makes no sense spending £100 repairing an old TV when you can buy a new one for £300.

The European Environmental Bureau is even complaining that printers are not included in the proposed regulations. This is nonsense, given that new printers can be purchased for less than £50. Do the EEB really believe you can find someone willing to repair yours for less than the price of a new one?

As usual, it is all about “reducing emissions”. The interest of consumers is the last thing the EU is worried about.

51 Comments
  1. Up2snuff permalink
    January 9, 2019 5:58 pm

    Far more sensible an idea from the EU than that daft vacuum cleaner power reduction thing.

    Now, perhaps, they (and our Government in the UK) could get round to legislating on standards for fry pans, saucepans, kettles, and other ‘cooking containers’. That would really save energy and reduce bills.

    • Stonyground permalink
      January 9, 2019 6:31 pm

      Or perhaps they could leave us alone to make our own decisions about what we buy.

      • Jules permalink
        January 9, 2019 7:26 pm

        Spot on.

      • Up2snuff permalink
        January 10, 2019 11:02 am

        Where you put a finite amount of energy into something, it makes sense to legislate on that. How can I know that saucepan B is going to require more 25% heat to boil some vegetables than saucepan A that I’m having to scrap because it is worn out? If a standard is set for saucepans, kettles, steamers, slow-cookers, etc., then the consumption of energy is reduced and so is the cost to the consumer.

        You would be mad to complain about that!

        And on the Right to Repair, when you make your self-informed decision, how do you know whether it will break or not when buying?

        This is a useful thing for any Government to do. The next big question is, why has it taken 46 years to do it?

  2. The Man at the Back permalink
    January 9, 2019 6:08 pm

    Well if you have an axe, then replacing the head is a no brainer if the handle is in good nick – the old “had it 50 years and only 3 new heads and 2 new handles” joke.

    BUT most stuff is complicated and if the circuit board gives up in a washing machine, is it worth spending £100 to find the motor and several bearings pack in not long after. I keep cars 10 years (12K miles per year) but even a clutch is not worth spending on at that point as the gearbox or engine could give out soon after.

    It can only put up the cost of goods – add that to the Meat Tax you will paying!!!!!

    • Joe Public permalink
      January 9, 2019 6:19 pm

    • Up2snuff permalink
      January 10, 2019 11:06 am

      The Man, yes, that is right. In addition, you would expect – OK, at least hope – that in 25 years, the washing machine that you buy will offer improvements over the older one that you choose to scrap.

      It should not add significantly to the cost of goods other than in modification to production line tooling and that may be minimal.

      • Up2snuff permalink
        January 10, 2019 11:25 am

        Sorry, second para should have those two words in there.

        This web-site needs an edit facility, please!

        Er …. so I can repair the effects of my dismal proof-reading.

    • Derek Buxton permalink
      January 11, 2019 10:53 am

      That is what it is about, putting up prices, Hammond and Carney will love it! These days few if any people could properly repair any piece of equipment.

  3. Stonyground permalink
    January 9, 2019 6:28 pm

    We scrap appliances sooner than we used to? Really? My wife and I moved in together in 1993, 25 years ago. We still have our original microwave and vacuum cleaner. We are on our second fridge and our second cooker. We are on our third washing machine. I commute on a bicycle that I bought around the same time. Cars are far more durable than they used to be. Most modern appliances are cheaper to replace than repair. In addition to this they don’t usually start going wrong until they are quite old.

    • Mike Jackson permalink
      January 9, 2019 9:49 pm

      When we bought our first house in 1967 we bought a Belling cooker mainly because an aunt of mine swore by hers. When we had a new kitchen fitted in 2005 (in our third house) we regretfully said goodbye to it. During those 38 years the element on one ring had been replaced twice and the timer no longer worked.

      The replacement was not an improvement!

      This is not a unique situation as others can testify. On the other hand we often buy cheap because items tend to be more reliable than they used to be but also, especially in hi-tech, what is five years old is obsolescent (if it wasn’t already when we bought it). Either way the decision is ours and while the intentions may be good, and I’m sure they often are, politicians and bureaucrats are the last people who ought to be making decisions on how other people organise their lives. Butt out; the market will decide.

      • HotScot permalink
        January 9, 2019 11:15 pm

        A 1970’s British built car was lucky to last 5 years before it was rusting.

        My first car was a 1968 Mini. I bought it for £25 from a farmer who had abandoned it as a rusting hulk in 1976 or so. I replaced the wings and bonnet with a fibreglass item and the rear subframe with a new one.

        I had to rub down the entire rusting body, de-rust and fill rotting areas, replace the sills and repaint the whole car. I also replaced all the single circuit, rotten brake lines. By the time I was finished it was only fit for scrap by today’s standards.

        One particular day my mate and I had to bale out the car and physically restrain it as we approached a junction when the brakes failed because the crappy brake slave cylinders failed. My bad, I thought they would be OK.

        I persevered fixing cars (and everything else) because it seemed the cheap thing to do until the late 80’s when I was forced to buy a new car for business.

        Then I realised why I was always broke and running a banger, and my mates with new cars on HP had pots of money.

        I spent my spare time fixing bangers, they spent their spare time in the pub networking, to make money they could spend on decent cars, houses, women, children, holidays and fine wine.

        Man, did I ever feel a mug when the enlightenment dawned. I have never touched a car since, I have never repaired a washing machine, fridge, cooker or dishwasher since, and if my wife didn’t mow the lawn, I would have a gardener do it for us.

        If I want a car to last, I lease a Mercedes (for three years, then it’s off my hands). If I want a washing machine to last, I buy a Bosch – a dishwasher, a Miele etc. etc. (my last Miele dishwasher lasted for 20 years. it cost me around £300 (if that) so £15 a year, and we got rid of it because it looked tatty, not because it didn’t work. Nor was it ever serviced, nor did it ever require a spare part.

        I bought the same model 3 years ago for the same price as I paid ~1996, £300. Somebody please explain to me how manufacturers are ripping consumers off when a top of the range item costs less for a year, than a night on the piss and despite inflation, costs the same as it did 20 years earlier.

        A £200 washing machine that lasts 3 years is still only £70 a year! And if they are taken to a council dump at the end of their lives they are disposed of for recycling…………

        So, according to our government, thousands of jobs will be created repairing washing machines, at £50 an hour labour, for a machine that costs £70 a year to own.

        Meanwhile, thousands of low paid workers in developing countries will be condemned to destitution, without a job, because their productivity at 3 buttons a month is less valuable than some fat arsed, lazy washing machine repair bloke in the West, who’ll rip the machine apart and say “sorry luv, it’s buggered, better buy a new one, that’ll be £100 labour (plus call out) thanks”.

        So much for globalism!

        I do often wonder what the effing point of technological progress is; we may as well go back to Model T Fords and Clydesdale horse drawn ploughs as far as the greens are concerned.

  4. David permalink
    January 9, 2019 6:41 pm

    I think the biggest problem is manufacturers setting the price of replacement circuit boards for washing machines, heating boilers and even vehicles at an artificially high price. The true manufacturing cost of these is often very low and some regulation on price might help consumers substantially.

    • jazznick permalink
      January 10, 2019 8:20 am

      Yes exactly David,
      I had a TV just out of warranty last year that died. Sent it away for diagnostic checkup (£79) and the main board had gone. Repair £649.

      That was what the TV originally cost – so no repair. !

      Upgraded to a new better spec. TV (with a longer warranty) for the same price as the repair.

  5. Geoffb permalink
    January 9, 2019 6:51 pm

    It is all down to cost. If the cost of repair is low compared to the cost of a new appliance, then it will happen. But it is very difficult to economically repair modern equipment.

    Manufacturers charge exorbitant prices for spare parts, they argue that its due to keeping spare parts for years.
    Technology moves fast these days and products become obsolete in a few years. (look at mobile phones).
    The skills are not available to repair modern appliances, You need much more than a soldering iron to repair a Surface Mount Board.
    Labour costs for repair in the the western world are high compared to the cost of manufacturing in the far east.

    This proposal does not make any economic sense, but in the mad quest of green loonies to reduce our living standards, I guess at some point a repair levy will be introduced on new equipment.

    • jazznick permalink
      January 10, 2019 9:32 am

      GeoffB
      “Manufacturers charge exorbitant prices for spare parts, they argue that it’s due to keeping spare parts for years.”

      Well maybe, but it’s more likely that they want you to keep buying a new one every few years
      to keep their profits up. Built in obsolescence I think it’s called.

      If domestic appliances were made to higher component specs, perhaps with smaller circuit modules that are easily/cheaply swappable, there would be no ‘total system main board failures’ so no need to replace unless the technology upgrades.
      Even then with a modular approach upgradeability could be possible if it was designed in.

      That assumes you can then actually afford a new repairable/upgradeable one as product prices would soar and makers would go out of business due to slow volume uptake.
      Only the rich would be able to buy new. Back to the days of DER ?

      It’s a knotty problem not solved by glib greeny arm waving articles like this.

  6. January 9, 2019 7:15 pm

    What happened to the concept of “Let the buyer beware”?

  7. Robert Best permalink
    January 9, 2019 7:19 pm

    The bBBC assertion that brown and white goods are never repaired is false because extended warranties are available for all such reputable goods.

    Technology is moving so fast now that most brown goods will be virtually obsolete after about five years.

    Quite why they are promoting a network of bodgers is beyond irresponsible –
    https://manchesterdeclaration.org/

    Adherents of the cult of Climate Change as with any irrational belief system are finding that their Utopian dream is so conflicted as to be unachievable.

  8. Athelstan permalink
    January 9, 2019 7:22 pm

    “As usual, it is all about “reducing emissions”. The interest of consumers is the last thing the EU is worried about.”

    Ah Lord, I can hear the tectonic plates rending and the earthquake of unintended consequence revving up for a biggie and guess what, hmm yeah the costs directed and an almight balls up crashes down on the poor old consumer, again.

    be afraid be very afraid and you know what, as if you needed another, a good reason to get out of the sclerosis aka the EU – this is what top heavy, onerous, incorrectly set, beholden to false narratives and begeting of catastrophic outcomes and all about just what the EU does best – calamity.

  9. January 9, 2019 7:27 pm

    When a central bureaucracy gets to decide “what’s best” for everyone, all good ideas get stifled and never see the light of day.

    This is why the Brits should Brexit and why the whole of the EU and UN edifices should come down. Tomorrow is not soon enough.

    You want the US to go the same way? Just give the Feds more power and reduce the autonomy of individual states.

    • Derek Buxton permalink
      January 11, 2019 10:58 am

      Well said and very true!

  10. mwhite permalink
    January 9, 2019 7:30 pm

    “The one question he does not raise is whether these latest slew of regulations will simply put up prices for these consumer goods.”

    You forgot the second question.- If goods are going to be made to last longer, consumers won’t need to replace them quite so often and Manufacturers will not need to make as many. If they don’t need to make as many, they will not need to employ as many.

    Won’t this lead to a rise in unemployment???

    • January 9, 2019 10:08 pm

      Not in China!!

      My darling daughter upgrades her iPhone every year, even though the old one is perfectly fine.!

      • Ben Vorlich permalink
        January 10, 2019 4:41 pm

        Being a grey beard many of my friends inherit replaced iPhones or Android devices and happily use them until broken or the battery life becomes an issue.
        It seems that the limits of development has been reached judging by sales for latest iPhone.

  11. January 9, 2019 8:03 pm

    This article is mostly nonsensical for several reasons:

    1) As already mentioned above, the cost of repair is often equal to or greater than the cost of buying a new product. In our case we have had a couple of microwave ovens fail over the last 15 years. In each case it was the grill/oven heating element, fan or control circuit that failed, not the microwave part of the combi unit. The parts alone (with me doing the repair) were over £50. A whole new combi microwave was only £80! If I spent £500 on a commercial quality unit instead then it would probably have lasted far longer or at the very least would have made economical sense to repair. I would happily spend more on a product that was guaranteed to be well built and last 30 years but most of them, even the premium brands seem to be built in china anyway and quality seems poor regardless of price. We have also had several toasters fail (including a very expensive premium brand), again it was circuit board or element failures and the parts (especially including postage) cost more than a new toaster.

    Thankfully our current 15yr old LG fridge is still working OK (should be too as it cost a fortune, £1K was a lot back in 2001) and the previous Zanussi fridge lasted approx 15 years too, so I would hardly call that frequent replacement!

    2) TV’s are a silly item to include in the proposed legislation because they are very often NOT replaced due to faults but simply because people upgrade to larger sizes, different screen types or better hardware/software much like they do for phones. eg. upgrading from tube to LCD or from basic to smart or from 720p to 4k etc. The TV set will be in almost perfect physical condition but will be regarded as ‘scrap’ because technology has moved on. My wife and I are as guilty of this as anybody, we have bought 3 new TV’s over the last 20 years, replacing them roughly every 7 years. Initially we had a 36″ tubed TV, by 2009 that was replaced with a 42″ 1080p HD ready LCD, that was then replaced with a 52″ 4K set last year.

    To be fair, the main reason for replacing them was actually to do with external factors rather than the TV itself. As our kids got older they started using game consoles that required better connections (eg. HDMI), better resolution etc. We also use a PC as a home media centre feeding into the TV and that too worked better on a higher res screen controlled with a wireless keyboard and mouse from the sofa. It was getting too expensive going to the cinema with 3 kids so we bought dvd/blue ray discs and watched them at home on a big TV with an excellent external sound system.

    3) My 1960 Land Rover, despite having been refurbished and repaired many times over its life still has approx. 50% of the parts it left the factory with 59 years ago. My wifes 1985 Land Rover has only required routine maintenance and repair and is approx. 80% factory original parts. When repair or servicing is required the parts are cheap and easy to find. There are hundreds of specialists and even some manufacturers producing new parts meaning most parts routinely required on a 60 year old vehicle can be bought brand new. Compare that with modern cars where very often with 5 years the manufacturer no longer supports the model and ceases production of replacement parts. Due to very short model life these days the manufacturers can’t afford to produce and hold stock of parts for older models. Also, like the TV’s, people often change the cars simply because they fancy something different or their circumstances have changed (eg. kids arrived). I would suggest it is rare that vehicles are replaced solely on their repair costs being more than a new car would cost. In our case we had to replace a 10 yr old Mazda because it needed a lot of welding, new injectors and other work that added up to £1500 for a vehicle that was only worth 2K at best. Worse still, no new parts were being made by Mazda!

    I guess my point is that getting people to repair instead of replace is not just about comparative cost of repair but it would need the general public to have a huge change in attitude. It would also be helpful if manufacturers built things in a more modular way with better backward compatibility, this would allow you to upgrade something rather than replace it. eg. Modular engine pods for cars, why scrap a whole car because the engine is old? why not simply remove the engine ‘module’ and plug in a brand new one? Current designs make it tedious even downright difficult to do even simple work on the engines, often requiring an hour to remove plastic guard before you can even get to the failed component. Some thought needs to be applied to design things for ease of repair rather than ease of manufacturing or cost reduction?

    • HotScot permalink
      January 10, 2019 8:39 am

      mud4fun

      Can you have a word with my wife please. She scoffed when I told her that when we retire home to Scotland (or if the SNP are still in power, Cumbria) in 3 or 4 years time I want to buy an old’ish Land Rover. Looked after properly it should see me out at minimal cost compared to leasing/buying/HP’ing a new car every three years.

      £300 for a service on my daughters 2016 VW Polo!!!!!!!

      • January 10, 2019 10:18 am

        LOL

        The curious thing with the old Land Rovers, and one that is very much relevant to this article, is that the basic design of the Land Rover (and later the defender too) did not change much over 60 years. This means that there is a very high rate of parts commonality across models spanning decades.

        This makes it easier for after market parts suppliers to manufacturer replacement parts as they can produce larger batches of a small range of parts which is more cost effective than doing lots of very small batches of widely differing parts. eg. The exact same 11″ brake drums and shoes were used on all LWB Land Rovers from 1957 through to 1986. Even many brand new Defender parts will still bolt straight on to a 1960 Land Rover such as doors, front wings etc and many more can be fitted with only minor fettling. Land Rover even used the exact same gearbox/bellhousing bolt pattern on all engines over 40 years meaning 1990’s engines bolt virtually straight in to a 1960 vehicle. How many modern cars can you do that with?

        Sadly this great parts commonality and ease of repair (now considered ‘environmentally friendly design’ by the authors of the proposed legislation) which allowed far greater duration of parts supply and support and subsequently far lower scrappage rates was not through choice – it was actually due to Land Rovers parent company (Rover) not providing any budget for new models over a 30 year period through the late 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. This meant LR could only make minor changes for each new model year.

        This lack of budget for new model designs, while in hindsight had its advantages, was at the time devastating to LR because they could not keep up with competition and hence the far superior Toyota Land Cruiser took away much of LR sales in 3rd world countries. LR have done well in recent years but that is by making smaller profits off a much higher volume of vehicles. The vehicles have a rapid turnover in model designs and they do not provide good parts support for any model over 10 years old. I believe they are actually moving to not supporting anything over 5 years after end of model production. This is the exact opposite of what this article is asking for.

        So in reality, for a manufacturer to make profit it has to compete and to compete it must develop new models and keep up with new technology, emission and safety standards. If it doesn’t do that it will lose sales and fail, resulting in redundancies.

        Rapid turnover of model designs means the manufacturers simply cannot support older models with parts for too long. The only way to keep the manufacturer profitable while making products that are easy to fix and have cheap parts over long periods is to make the products more expensive and limit globalisation to level the playing field on workers pay, workers rights, energy costs etc.

    • January 10, 2019 10:28 am

      And your 1960 Land Rover is as safe, comfortable and efficient as a modern car?

      Would you rather be hit as a pedestrian by your Land Rover or by a modern VW?

      And manufacturers make it hard to tinker partly because of regulation regular and the threat of lawsuits.

      • January 10, 2019 3:55 pm

        “And your 1960 Land Rover is as safe, comfortable and efficient as a modern car?”

        No, on paper obviously not and I never claimed such.

        My point was that due to its design (designed to be repaired in the field by anybody with basic mechanic skills using nothing more than common hand tools) and due to the model barely changing in over 30 years, the LR is relatively simple to service and repair at home and parts are cheap and plentiful and still being made some 60 years later, in part because so many old LR’s have not been scrapped.

        However, looking in more detail at your points:

        Safe? Agreed, they are poor in crash tests. However in adverse weather, standing water, floods, snow, ice and storms they are far safer than many modern cars and they are my go to vehicle when the weather turns bad.

        Comfortable? Have you driven a properly setup Series LR with good aftermarket seats, parabolic springs and 33″ tyres? I can assure you that it is just as comfortable over long distances as any modern pickup truck. I should know as I have owned many jap pickups over the years and currently have a Nissan Navara on the drive. It is nowhere near as comfortable on the motorway as our LR’s. Those big tyres run at low pressure giving a soft ride. The parabolic springs are far more supple than the original semi-elyptics and the aftermarket seats are far more comfortable on long journeys than the seats in the Navara which give me back ache after a few hours. Obviously neither the Navara or the LR are anywhere close to as comfortable as a modern hatchback but then can a modern hatchback tow 3 tons, carry 1 ton of cargo, drive through 18″ of snow, wade 48″ floodwater and last 60 years?

        Efficient? Ah, this one makes me laugh. I am an eco driver, often getting 20% higher average mpg in any vehicle than most people including my wife can do. I closely monitor my fuel economy using actual figures from fuel used and distances driven. I even calibrate my speedos with GPS etc to ensure as accurate as possible. I record every single fill up in a spreadsheet, thus I have very comprehensive and accurate economy figures for all my vehicles. In like for like driving our old LR’s average just 6-8mpg less than any modern car in local driving. eg. On a round trip to our local town, my wifes 2.25 diesel LWB LR will achieve 28mpg, our modern 1.4 petrol Vauxhall Corsa only achieved 34mpg. True the Corsa was petrol but it weighed 300Kg less than the LR, had significantly less power loss through its transmission and had lower rolling resistance and better aerodynamics. Also due to eco warrior scare tactics joe public are now buying petrols instead of diesels so the comparison is valid IMHO. Our Nissan Navara, which is the modern equivalent of the LR, also averages just 34mpg on that same trip but does weigh 500kg more and has 200hp. The Corsa and Navara only significantly better the mpg of the old LR at motorway speeds, mostly due to 6 speed gearing vs the 4 speed of the LR and better aerodynamics. The Navara has recently achieved an actual 57mpg on the motorway at steady 56mph. The best the LR’s have achieved is 33mpg at the same speed. As the LR’s are only used for a few thousand miles each year the minor difference in mpg is academic. The LR’s have massively cheaper insurance (£100 a year vs £500 for the Navara), VED exempt, massively cheaper servicing and repair costs and have actually appreciated in value whereas the Navara and Corsa lost 40-60% of their value in first 3 years. My 1960 LR is actually worth more than my Navara which cost £26K 3 years ago, the LR is currently valued at £20K, the Navara just £14K! £12K of depreciation makes a few hundred a year less on fuel hilariously irrelevant! 😉

  12. Broadlands permalink
    January 9, 2019 8:51 pm

    “He claims that we scrap appliances much sooner than we used to..”

    Where will these “greens” scrap the outmoded, unrepairable solar panels and wind turbines they refer to as “renewable”? There is already no place to put the “dangerous” and worrisome CO2 that will have to be captured and stored. Biofuel vegetation and new trees are already using space needed for edible agriculture. Where is some reality in all of this?

  13. January 9, 2019 9:09 pm

    There is little doubt that the climate sham is outright superstition. It is in fact nothing but religion.
    A long time ago Western Civilisation realised that church and state should be separate, in order to prevent public policy from being contaminated by nonsense.
    Ergo the fundamental problem here is that belief in the false religion of AGW has been allowed to affect public policy. There is no problem if some people insist on believing this superstitious gibberish. The problem is that it enters the realm of politics.

  14. Hayden permalink
    January 9, 2019 9:32 pm

    I wouldn’t mind,
    Wahsing machines are a particular bugbear. The drum bearing is a high-stress item. It ususally dies because the seal fails, and the water corrodes it, and so it dies.
    Replacing the beariong used to be reasonably do-able, as the drum splits in two parts, with clips or bolts.
    Now, the drum is a plastic, glued afffair. And, the bearings are now smaller, so they will fail more often! Separating the two halves is not not possible, so the machine must be discarded.
    And no, £150 of repair is not just as expensive as £500 of washing machine, if you buy a good one.

    • January 9, 2019 10:57 pm

      Hi Hayden, agreed. We have always chosen to repair our washing machines where possible because the repair/parts costs are still quite low compared to buying a replacement.

      We’ve only bought two washing machines in last 20 years, a Zanussi that lasted approx 12 years and our current Bosch which is now 7 years old.

      The Zanussi lasted a long time mainly due to us having no kids for most of its life so it was only used a few times per week. Since having 3 kids the w/machine is on twice a day. The Bosch has failed twice in 7 years, once for a failed seal and once for worn out brushes. We had to get a repair guy out for the seal and that cost over £100, the brushes I did myself and cost £40. Both repairs significantly less than the £400+ cost of a new like for like model.

      The brushes were an easy enough repair albeit a PITA having to disconnect plumbing and slide machine right out to be able to tilt it backwards far enough to access the motor from underneath. The Zanussi failed due to faulty control board that would have cost over £100 so we opted to buy new, it was already an old machine and we wanted a more efficient one. The Bosch works well with the Rayburn as it can use the pre-heated water from the stove. The Zanussi only had cold fill so used stacks of electric!

      So far we’ve not experienced bearing failure but have heard that they are not as easy or cheap to replace as in the past. Our Bosch has probably now done approx. 2500 hours with no bearing issues so we can’t really complain about it. I’d guess the Zanussi only did 1500 hours before it failed and became n/s.

    • January 10, 2019 10:22 am

      Except it is. What is the value if a three year old machine? It’s not £500. How many other £150 repairs will it need? Don’t know do you. So how do you know the future cost?

      And the machine is there to do a job – what’s the reduction in value of what it does?

      Until you do the actual economics you cannot say what the economics are.

  15. John F. Hultquist permalink
    January 9, 2019 10:31 pm

    (Compare TVs now with the 1970s version which had umpteen valves and goodness knows what else).

    In the USA the TVs had tubes. Is this a UK vs US word thing?
    Anyway: Young folks that don’t know what a TV tube is, search “images” for TV tubes, and then for TV tube tester.
    Often a malfunctioning TV could be fixed by taking the back off, looking inside at all the glowing things, selecting any that were dim or not glowing, and heading to a local store that had a tester. Suspected bad tubes could be inserted in the correct place, and the gizmo would tell if that tube needed replaced. Take a new one home, insert. Close the case.

    Repairing a dish washer: About 7 years ago, our washer developed a problem. With several days delay, a repair person came. He thought it needed a new XX. That was ordered and came a week later. He came and took the front off and put in the new XX. Problem wasn’t fixed. He ordered a new motor. A week later the motor came, and he came back to put it in.
    Opps! Water leaked out on the floor. He took it apart again and decided the entire inside water-tight case had a crack. One was not available. Therefore, the old unit — with the new motor and parts — was trashed, and a new washing machine was ordered, and installed.
    None of this cost us anything — we had a full coverage insurance plan on it.
    Still, it took a month from start to finish.
    Now, the usual — with purchase — guarantee is all we go for. If it lasts a year, we assume it will last 5.

    Last year an old clothes washer quit. I went to a store, bought a new one, it was loaded in my truck, I took it home, unloaded it and switched new for old. Done in a couple of hours.

    • JerryC permalink
      January 10, 2019 10:17 pm

      Yeah, tubes are valves in Brit lingo.

  16. January 10, 2019 10:18 am

    It fails the basic economics test because it ignores the whole economic reason we are wealthy – specialisation in mass production. One bloke coming to mend my machine takes as much time (and hence cost) as the equivalent in man-hours required to make two new ones. The only way you can make this economic is either to make new machines cost a lot more or pay the menders very, very little.

    • Up2snuff permalink
      January 10, 2019 11:21 am

      Phoenix, add two more alternatives to your final sentence – easy to repair and quick, easy and fast availability of spare parts.

      When thinking about economics you need to take all factors into account. Not so long ago, the media (esp. the BBC in the UK) were getting very exercised about the potential loss of jobs thanks to robotics and Artificial Intelligence. The cost of human unemployment and under-employment is massive.

      When you think of human jobs that cannot be replaced in whole or part, what comes to mind? How about jobs like bicycle mechanic?

  17. Ian permalink
    January 10, 2019 10:19 am

    One aspect I haven’t spotted in comments is the effect of green legislation and the like on product design and operation. A couple of years ago, I had a kitchen refit, involving replacement of 20-year old oven and dishwasher. The eco-credentials of these new products look impressive, but performance is a big step back from the older items. I think the fridge-freezer replacement works better because of better insulation and frost-free design, but that’s about it.

    • JerryC permalink
      January 10, 2019 10:19 pm

      Interesting. We just had our kitchen redone and the new dishwasher is light years better than the old one in terms of cleaning power and noise suppression.

  18. Up2snuff permalink
    January 10, 2019 11:14 am

    I remember a 1959 refrigerator being REPAIRED TWICE in its first few years of life. It was still going strong – it was given to a family needing one – when the kitchen was re-modelled in 1993. A 1959 washing machine also broke down within a couple of years of purchase. It was repaired and lasted another decade or more before replacement.

    The increasing reliability and longevity of major ‘white goods’ in the second half of the 20th century has been a story of consumer satisfaction but not necessarily manufacturer satisfaction. 😉

    • Up2snuff permalink
      January 10, 2019 11:38 am

      I should have added retailer to my final sentence in my post above.

      That is another key economic question to consider. What proportion of a nation’s economy is played by the retail sector. In the UK, as manufacturing declined in the 1960 through 2010, so retailing grew. Retailing is now going through major changes in how itself is done and its dominance is also reducing due to competition from new or re-invigorated sectors; science, new technology, education and research.

  19. January 10, 2019 12:22 pm

    “proposals from European environment ministers to force manufacturers to make goods that last longer and are easier to mend”

    Even if those changes increase emissions?

  20. Jack Broughton permalink
    January 10, 2019 2:05 pm

    The replies above make interesting reading, I’m almost converted to a landrover even!
    Another factor to consider in promoting repair is Health and Safety, also the increasing technical incompetence that has made H&S so all pervading. Plugs cannot be changed now or insurance is invalidated: once upon a time plugs were “extras” (like Batteries often are), and almost everyone could fit them easily. Most “snowflakes” have not a clue about the devices that they use: they have never needed to as reliability and planned obsolescence are better than they were.

    Fortunately, the world continues to improve despite the “Do-gooders” best efforts to stop this.

  21. saparonia permalink
    January 10, 2019 2:05 pm

    So basically, manufacturers are being told to make things properly so they don’t break?!!

    hmm no wonder things like treadle sewing machines are still being bought and sold

  22. Gerry, England permalink
    January 10, 2019 2:11 pm

    I had a Philips tumble dryer made in the early 80s in the UK that stopped drying clothes. Heater had failed. Sadly although I could find the part listed for sale online it was discontinued. I bought a replacement that was very similar, in fact almost the same. Turned out I had bought one made by the UK company that had bought the factory – and designs – from Philips. If is does as well it will see me out. The old one had a circular heater when they are all like mini electric fires now. Given the lack of changes, I reckon the heater from the new one could have been made to fit the old one.

  23. Adrian Kerton permalink
    January 10, 2019 2:37 pm

    Freezers etc. I measured the power consumption of our old fridge/freezer and worked out a new efficient one would save me its cost in 18 months in reduced power consumption. It died last year after some 10 years and I didn’t bother to try and find out, apart from checking the fuse. The new one from the same manufacturer works fine so fingers crossed. I also have boxes of electronic components lying idly around as these days it is cheaper to buy a gizmo off the shelf than buying the boxes etc to put the bits in and building it myself and as for my car, I could strip the old MG Midget but now I am held ransom by the garage as I don’t have a plug in computer if anything goes wrong.

  24. January 10, 2019 6:41 pm

    I’m all for this. Most white and electrical goods are manufactured in China (or many of the parts are) and they are often skip-ready by the end of one or two years. It probably doesn’t make economic sense and definitely doesn’t make environmental sense to dispose of an item simply because ‘it isn’t working’. We fitted numerous new parts to our old, reliable Bosch washing machine – ‘new’ motor (second hand on ebay, new brushes, new heating element, new rubber seal etc.) all for just a few pounds. Better than just ditching it and spending £300-500 on a new washing machine which will probably be less reliable and harder to DIY repair.

  25. waterside4 permalink
    January 10, 2019 8:12 pm

    My beautiful ex fiancé of 49 years and 9 months, refers to me as ‘Paddy fix it’ as I am one of a previous generation who was taught to take things apart and put them back together again when they were broken. So I welcome this initiative
    Imagine my horror when a few weeks ago ‘she who must be obeyed’ was walking around Dundee and her shoes collapsed.
    It transpired that she had taken one of her 50 odd pair of shoes out of the recesses of the wardrobe where they had resided in the darkness for many months.
    Unbeknownst to us our ‘friends’ in Brussels had legislated that in order to save the planet from catastrophic man made global warming, all shoes must have bio degradable soles.
    So if you have stashed away a pair of winter brogues in a dark placed for 10 or 12 months – beware- if you go for a walk they will collapse
    But not to worry if you have to fork out another 100 quid for a new pair. Its for a good cause – you are saving the planet from Armageddon.

  26. David Lee permalink
    January 12, 2019 12:53 pm

    If my swimming pool pump dies, I cannot simply replace it. The law mandates only the sale of variable-flow pumps which do not work with the rest of my system. I will be forced to buy an entirely new “energy efficient” filtration system.

    My old air conditioner will need a new heat-exchange coil soon (it’s leaking coolant.) The coil cannot be replaced. The entire unit must be replaced by a more energy-efficient unit. I suspect government mandates are the cause.

    As a rule, if businesses do things that are really screwed up and irrational, the first suspected root cause should be the government.

  27. Johnm permalink
    January 15, 2019 2:00 pm

    A few points

    1. My bugbear is the plastic used to make door shelves in fridges. they become brittle after a time and break easily.

    I don’t want to force manufacturers to offer spares. However I would like to say in a manufacturer declines to make spares then a any third party can set up and sell the spares, without being sued by the original manufacturer. The threat of such competition can only be positive.

    2. We have an Evoke DAB radio. It’s not more than 3 years old and is still manufactured. However one of the knobs has broken. Evoke say they do not stock the spare even though it’s clearly the same on the model in shops.

    No biggie. I bought non-matching knob from an electronics shop.

    Again, this follows the rule – if the manufacturer declines to provide the spare let someone else make them.

    3. A tumble drier recent;y died on the day the warranty expired. Price for repairman to come out – £80. Like cause – pump – £100 + Labour less some of £80. As new price £220. No brainer

    My thought is that the failure date is surely a coincidence. My cynical voice says – remember Apple https://www.vox.com/2017/12/22/16807056/apple-slow-iphone-batteries

    More generally I don’t particularly object to a law designed to extend product life. I do object to law makers telling manufacturers how to do it. Make the 5 year warranty mandatory on products costing £200 plus. It wouldn’t cover cosmetic damage. That doesn’t need to be specific on repair-ability.

    Most products today have no second hand value because (a) we are wealthier and want new or (b) the old product is not expected to be reliable. If we sold the product (say a washing machine) after 2 years and it had a 3 year warranty then it would have some residual value

    At the moment the economics do not favour long life. If a manufacturer can make a thing cheaper at the expense of longevity then what are the considerations. If they are a maker with some reputation for quality like say Bosch they might think twice but if they are Whirlpool or Hotpoint, they lost that reputation some time ago and so they are competing on price mainly.

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