Our garage door opener stopped working a few months ago so I called the company that installed it for a repair. After a brief period of rattling and banging, the technician explained to me that the “whatchamagig” was broken causing the “black spinning thingy” to fail. (OK, that’s not exactly what he said, but you get the point). I asked him about fixing it. And then we had a conversation that went something like this.
Him “Well Ma’am, that part alone is $215 and the work will take about five to six man hours, so it would be cheaper for you to buy a new one.”
Me: “Well, let’s just repair it.”
Him: (now speaking slower) “Yeah, Ma’am, see it’s gonna cost MORE (emphasis on the more) to repair it than to get a new one.”
Me: “I know, I would still like to schedule a repair.”
Him: “Ma’am is your husband home?”
How many times has someone said to you, “it’s cheaper to buy a new one than repair this?” Or you have a product that you have to replace because it has worn out sooner than you think it should?
During The Simple Year, since we aren’t buying anything new and I can’t easily replace items; I am now, more than ever, appreciative of products made to last and actually have good customer service with repair options.
I suppose I am a very typical consumer in that I am quick to complain when I am unhappy with something. So, I thought it only fair that I take some time to talk about products that I believe are well made with companies that stand behind them.
Lego- If you can get over the fact that stepping on a piece with a bare foot is torturous, (I bet that’s what they used at Guantanamo), Legos are an amazing product. I didn’t quite realize HOW amazing until we recently got an off-brand building set. Those pieces weren’t manufactured to the same stringent specs. The blocks were difficult to snap together and overall the finished product was a bit wobbly looking and likely to fall apart. I’ve never had those issues with a Lego brand product ,which is particularly amazing given some of those sets have a gazillion pieces. Also, if you lose the instructions for a set you can visit their website and download a new set for free (just for the ones manufactured in the last 10 years). They also have an option to order key replacement blocks if one or two has been eaten by the dog or dropped down the heating vent.
Wusthof- I love these knives, I’ve had my two favorite for at least 10 years. I follow the original instructions for care and with minimal effort they stay as sharp as the day I got them. I actually dropped one on a marble surface once and broke a chunk off the handle. I sent it back to the company and they sent it back as good as new (it is possible they just gave me a new one) for a no charge.
Le Creuset– Known primarily for its cast iron cook wear coated in enamel, they can alternate between stovetop and oven. The pots are as heavy as– iron and a little unwieldy (i.e., don’t drop it on your toe) but I use mine at least once a week. After a few years the knob on the lid started to spin. I called a very lovely woman in their customer service department who asked me a couple of quick questions and said. “I’ll just send you a new knob and if that doesn’t do the trick, just call me back.” And it worked, just as simple as that.
Hanna Andersson– Once you can crack the code on the sizing, this children’s clothing catalog retailer makes a great product. The clothes not only last longer, they seem to fit longer. I swear I am not making that up. Usually my kids can stay in a Hanna Andersson outfit for at least two seasons, sometimes longer. I think it is because the styles are forgiving and look good both a little looser as well as more form fitting. Plus, the customer service is really top notch. I once called in a panic because some clothes I wanted for a family photo had gotten lost in transit. The woman didn’t even bat an eye and suggested she overnight a new set (at no additional cost) and then told me when the other ones arrived I could just mail them back. Also, these are my very favorite resale clothes to buy because they hold up so well.
Lands End– I have three words for you, lost mitten club. If you, or more likely your child, loses a single mitten and it is a pair they still make they will sell you a single mitten for 50% off the price of a pair. I LOVE that. It just makes so much more sense than having to throw out that lone glove. Land’s end also sells clothes that are really pretty timeless and long lasting.
Tupperware– So, I am always a bit skeptical of any product that’s business model is multi-level marketing. But, as far as standing the test of time, I do have a Tupperware cake server and deviled egg tray that are both at least thirty-five years-old and in fine shape. Tupperware has a life-time warranty against chipping cracking or peeling and seems to stand behind it. (but not if you melt in on the dishwasher element or in the microwave) Plus, you can purchase replacement lids although I think you have to go through one of their “consultants” which is a little annoying, but workable.
Craftsman Tools- Have you ever broken a hammer? Well it usually happen in mid swing turning the head into a flying projectile with enough potential force to blow a hole in your drywall, or head, whichever gets in the way first. Quality tools are pretty important. Craftsman has been the go-to brand for several generations on both sides of our family. We haven’t had any non-electric Craftsman tools break. Although, they have a pretty good warranty, it is specific to each tool so all guarantees are not created equally. Craftsman is sold by Sears which also has a couple of helpful websites that help extend the life of their products to include, www.managemylife.com where you can download owner’s manuals and www.searspartsdirect.com where you can order parts to fix their products, if you are handy.
Patagonia- I have had a pair of Patagonia shorts for the last twelve years (some years the waistband is tighter than others). I love those shorts, what they lack in style, they make up for in utility. Patagonia also offer repairs to equipment that has been broken or ripped. Interestingly, the founder of that company, Yvon Chouinard, recently wrote a book called The Responsible Company in which he offers that our society must move toward a “post consumerist economy” where goods are high quality, recyclable and repairable. It has been my experience, his company practices what their guru preaches.
One thing that is pretty universal about all of the products listed above is that none of them are the cheapest option. But, in this age of planned obsolescence, which is the business practice of building products with a reduced lifespan to create a bigger demand, I suppose If I do have to buy something; I would rather spend more up front than have to buy more frequently and toss more things away.
*None of these companies have paid or compensated me in any fashion, blah, blah, blah… Actually as my husband has pointed out, my blog only costs us money. But that is another story.