Monday, September 14, 2009


Something that I have been thinking about for quite a while. This place we have gotten ourselves into called, inferior products...and the acceptance of the same.

Many years ago, hmmm, 1976 as a matter of fact, I bought a circular saw at Sears. The saw was a Skil Brand saw. Skil made damned fine tools back then. At about the same time that I bought the saw, I also bought two hammers...a 16 oz, and a 20 oz hammer. Another purchase at Sears along about that time was an orbital saber was a Craftsman.

I can't remember who actually made Sears' tools, but you could definitely count on their durability. And, if something did go wrong, Sears would replace them, no questions asked.

So why am I relating all of this boring shit to you? I am going to tell you why.

An aside, not at all related...well, a little. There was an old self-anointed black preacher down where I hail from, who was once interviewed in the local rag and one question put to him was, "Reverend Jackson (his name was Gizmo idea what the Gizmo was about), what do you attribute to your personal success as a preacher there at the Church of the Open Door?" Jackson replied with, "well, I tell them what I'm going to tell them...I tell them...and then I tell them what I told them."

I am not quite that transparent...I prefer to sneak up on the point of the my clumsy way, that is. But I always thought it was a great speaking technique...Gizmo's, that is.

Back to what I was going to tell you. Out straightening up in the garage the other day...putting things in their place, oiling tools, general manly garage boy things, when it occurred to me that I still had that Skil Saw, and the hammers from eons ago. And they are still in great shape. I lost the saber saw to a thief in 1995...but, at the time of the thief, it was 20 years old and just as good as new (and yes, I am still pissed at that one...the bastard thief, I mean).

All of which leads me to this. Since 2001, I have purchased the following (some are tools, some are not)

2 Battery operated with the Skil label.
3 window unit air conditioners (pre-installation of a central unit)
2 toaster ovens
3 microwave units
4 automatic coffee makers (each a different brand)
5 DVD players
3 refrigerators
2 dryers
l washing machine
2 dish washers (built in)
5 portable DVD players
God knows how many cell phones...I have literally lost count on this sorry ass item!
2 CD disc cleaners
1 Dremel tool
3 point and shoot digital cameras
4 dining chairs in a 50's retro look, on line.
And numerous shit that I can't even recall what they were, but do recall their country of origin.

The list, as you can see from the last entry, is actually much longer.

What do all of these things have to do with Skil saws, and hammers, and walruses? Nothing. But the list items have two things in common:

1) They all failed withing two years of purchase.
2) They all were manufactured in China.

All have been replaced. The cameras with German only brands. But unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to replace many, many items with anything OTHER than China made. Motorola cell phones (still SUPPOSEDLY made in the U.S.) being one exception...but, yep...the Motorolas have some serious problems also.

The original Skil saw, and hammers, and scroll saw have nothing in common with the others. They still work! OK, can't attest to the scroll saw...but I would bet my mother, if she were alive, that it is still functioning...and...and, they were all made in the U.S...when U.S. manufacturers took pride in what they made. Their retailers reflected that pride.

So the real point of this post is...curiosity. Curious as to how many of you have noticed this, and how many have had the same failure rate as I.

And as an added bonus, a related article in this link is about the devil itself...the one who more than any other entity, put China on the capitalist map...Wal-Hell, aka Wal-Mart.

I for one will not set foot in the place...the beautiful clientele not withstanding.

Wal-Shit article here...a must read.


intelliwench said...

I guess we can at least be thankful that Chinese autos have yet to gain entry into the US market.

I will say that the Chinese fellow I briefly dated did not have the same "failure" issues that so many of their other imports do.

(You're wearing your shiraz again, aren't you?)

jadedj said...

Intell---Methinks the key word there was, "briefly". How about 2,3, or 4 years out? See?

And, just as shiraz you are reading this, it is true.

PENolan said...

Dude, I gave you another award.
Come get it.

Lou said...

I have been incredibly lucky or perhaps it's just that I have no memory of any purchases, failed or otherwise, in the last few years. Probably wine induced amnesia. You on the other hand obviously keep records.

Lou said...

PS The Wal-Mart article was scary though they're not here in NZ. Yet.

the walking man said...

Like you brother Jaded I have been buying tools from Sears, Snap-On, Mac and Matco for decades. The last three suppliers actually are American made and their price reflects it. But I would rather pay $12 for a single wrench that is sized correctly, tempered and balanced than $2 for one that will round off the nut and break when I throw it against a wall.

The point being now with the devil having invested heavily in retail, too many people will shop price and not economics. Not enough people share the no Wal-Mart at any cost philosophy.

You are correct it used to be Skil and Black&Decker that made Sears power tools but since it turned to Ryobi the old planned obsolescence has crept in. Sears will no longer warrant a power tool beyond it's manufacturers warranty. The hand tools, sure no problem because at what they sell them for (100%+ mark up) it is better for advertising to replace a screw driver no questions asked than question the damage to it.

Now that little consumer products are manufactured here I for one will only buy non-Chinese made goods. It may not be American made but it is still a concern as to where the profit is being sent to.

And uhhh by the by Chinese auto manufacturers are getting ready to enter (2 years) the American market through GM and their joint manufacturing plant in China.

Mr. Charleston said...

Let us not forget that the original kings of built-in-obsolescence were American automobile manufacturers, followed closely by American appliance manufacturers. We taught the world well.
I, for one, have no problem with shopping at WalMart. Why would I pay $20 for an ink cartridge at Office Depot (itself no sterling example of American manufacturing) when I can get the exact same thing at WalMart for $16? The same is true for hundreds of other name-brand products. Name-brand vodka, $3 cheaper than the liquor store just down the street.
I've heard it said that when a WalMart comes to town, the entire town gets a pay raise.
With its $4 generic prescriptions, WalMart has done more to revolutionize the health care system in this country and any other single thing. Within two years, a generic that used to cost me (without insurance) $90 for 30 pills, $90 for 90 pills from Canada, now cost me $12 for 90 pills from the neighborhood WalMart. They have forced CVS, Walgreen's, and every other 800% mark-up, rip-your-ass-off drug dealer to follow suit or go out of business. Good riddance.
Some of you might remember when WalMart sold nothing but American made products. But nothing is made in America any more. In a global economy, manufacturing goes where the labor is cheapest. WalMart has nothing to do with that.
WalMart got to where it is by being smart with technology. They took the bar code, developed by the grocery industry who were too short-sighted to think past individual store inventory, and developed a direct from the manufacturer delivery system that totally eliminated the expensive wholesale distributor middle man. Every other big-box store has followed suit.
I too will buy locally when I can. I'll spend the 10% extra to buy from the locally owned Ace Hardware store when it's more convenient. But I'll be damned if I'm going to get ripped off by the grocery store for household cleaning products (shop Dollar General), dog food, light bulbs, air filters, paper products and the like when I can save 20% at WalMart. Fuck em.

PENolan said...

I am exactly the opposite of Mr. Charleston.
I'll pay $3.00 more for vodka just so I don't have to go in the Wal-Mart. It's huge, confusing and t-a-c-k-y. Not that there is a Wal-Mart on Columbus Avenue, thank God for small favors. I hear they are putting a Costco on the East Side in some new, big ass development where rent will be $2200/mo for a 500/sqft studio apartment. Another WTF moment in NYC.

mo.stoneskin said...

Only 3 microwave units? You lucky bugger.

We got a microwave as a wedding present. (made in Taiwan). It caught fire. (note, we never put stuff on it, never put stuff next to it, don't put mirrors or foil in there). Took it back, got the same model as a replacement. It caught fire. Took it back. Got a more expensive one as straight exchange after a lot of arguing. "Could have killed us," I said. Made in China. Started making strange sounds like a dying whale while not cooking. Took it back. Did I get another one? Bloody hell, did I not. Walked away with cash, I wasn't buying from that joke of a shop again. (no, it wasn't a joke shop, but it was a joke of a shop, that's for sure).

Mr. Charleston said...

Don't get me wrong PEN. I don't ENJOY shopping at WalMart. It's like one of those girded experiences... get your list together, steel yourself and go. Where I live a car is necessary to shopping so, it's actually convenient to be able to access so much in one place.

Holte Ender said...

In 1985,I moved to a small town in NW Missouri, pop. 10,000, there were three hardware stores. You could get anything DIY, they all seemed to have just the right weight of hammers, garden tools, all US made, the largest selection of nails, nuts and bolts, and tools I had never seen before. Wal-Mart came to town and by 1990 the hardware stores were gone, all mom and pop stores.
I would rather buy US made tools and consumer hardware products, pay more for them, knowing skilled people around the country are working. Skilled working people are generally happier and make better products, being one myself, I know this to be true. I would rather pay $5 more for a large T-shirt, knowing that after 3 or 4 washes, it will still be a large and not a petite. Wal-Mart forces suppliers to compromise on price for the sake of volume and what gets lost in the mix is quality.

Punch said...

WalMart seems to have Mr. Charelson on their staff of corporate lackys humping the party line about cost and centralization and competition and all. And how smart there corporate model is and how dumb everyone else is and ha ha ha, and you to could be a greeter for just a 50% cut in pay with no bennies, that the chump companies give away to the lackys.
They came in with little stores and put mom and pop out of business, then they brought in the big box stores and put there little stores,kmart albertsons, and j.m. fields etc, out of business. So now you have to drive 20 miles to them, 'cause there ain't that much choice anymore, just like the corporate big boys planned.
Now that gas is rising in cost and dropping in abundance soon the bus lines will begin to run specials, with a modest up charge,from the old folks home and the collage, for the weekend specials of crap made in China.
Maybe Mr. Charelston could get a bus stop near his house sos he don't have to walk so far, to save 3 dollars on cheap booze 'cause the good stuff is saved for the phat daddies, that can afford to drive their SUV's while getting a hummer to the liquor stores and Wal-Mart can't get good booze no more 'cause Gray Goose said, we can't produce good vodka for that price, get out of town. Wal-Mart says 'we are out of town, take the bus'.
Hey, I could be wrong.

Chimp said...

As a kid, growing up in South America, the greatest present I once received was a nylon jacket MADE IN USA. Even my plastic water gun was was embossed: MADE IN USA. And now, 50 years later, nothing is made in the good ol' USA anymore. All because someone can do our $5-per-hour work for 10 cents per hour so the rich can be richer.

jadedj said...

To everyone---All of you who are kind enough to come over here and read my rambles and generally boost my ego, I want to say...I am not ignoring your blogs of late...not intentionally. I've just gotten pretty busy in the last week or so, and simply can't give the attention to my follows, as usual. But, I will get over there sooner or later. Sorry.

PE---Thanks pal. Tomorrow, or much later tonight, I intend to do a post acknowledging that fine award. Bear with me.

Lou---I'm not exactly a great record keeper, but it's sort of hard to ignore broken things, on a regular basis...and even harder to ignore that they all are built in the same place.

As to Wal-Mart not being in your part of the world yet...don't close your eyes. Today the U.S., know...uber alles.

Wm---Well said man. And you are absolutely correct, price over quality, wins with the Great American masses every time.

Chinese autos...very scary thought. Maybe we should rethink Yugos.

Hmmm, Mr. C---sometimes you just leave me speechless.

PE---With you all the way on this one...and it has nothing to do with the award. I am surprised to hear that there is a W-M in NYC. Now I AM disturbed.

Mo---Your first mistake was turning it on. Never, turn on Chinese appliances...never.

C---Still speechless.

Holte---Classic Wal-Mart story...and arrogance. As far as I am concerned, they are evil incarnate. At the very least, they are of the robber baron class never seen before in the history of human kind...mega-company store.

Punch---Bravo! I take back all of the vicious rumors I've been spreading about your pending appearance on Rush's show!

Chimp---Yep...and it is way beyond is almost a religion with these people. They never get enough money...they bath in it...they must stuff it up their square turd arses...and they for sure, bow down and worship it.

Doug said...

As I don't have a car and I don't wish to ride a bike or take a bus that far, I don't shop at Wal*Mart. I wouldn't, anyway. We have a lot of selection in this city and the only thing Wal*Mart has that the others don't is square footage. Price isn't everything, and Wal*Mart doesn't always have the best price.

Anonymous said...

There isn't much that is built to last in that list of yours. I've gone through countless electric weedeaters in the last 10 years. Cordless drills seem to last me a while - I don't over use them. I go through a set of washer and dryers every 1 to 2 years - but they are over-worked and probably used a lot more than an average set would ever see in a typical family.
I will say that Craftsmen still has the lifetime warranty on it's handtools - I don't know if that includes all of them or not.
Manufacturers could, of course, make things that would last, but the prices would probably double or triple since they would - in theory - not have repeat customers coming back that often.
I dislike Walmart because of the way the company treats it's employees. I go once a month, and I usually only buy a couple of things. They don't ALWAYS have the best prices. In fact, they mostly do NOT have the best prices in their grocery aisles compared to Fry's - a grocery chain owned by Kroger's.

jadedj said...

Doug---one of WM's ploys is to go into a town, have incredibly low prices, drive out the competition and then raise the prices.

Anon---Weedeaters, one of my hate garden tools. I have lost count on that one.

Not so sure I agree with you regards the lack of return business...ergo, my Sears products reference from 35 years ago. They were affordable then and built to last. It is the profit motive and fuck you attitude of corporations that have changed.

Yes, WalMart...the epitome of greed, and hatefulness for that matter. Hence the reason I linked to the article about the same.