10 Days ’til 40: Planned Obsolescence = ROBBING CONSUMERS

11 Feb

About two years ago I bought a car adapter for my iPhone, enabling me to play my phone through my stereo.  This car adapter is the inspiration for today’s post.  Here is a photo:


Recently I have become more aware of planned obsolescence as I have been taking a Coursera course on entrepreneurship.  While I had understood planned obsolescence to some degree prior to enrolling in the course (I mean, don’t we all say, “They don’t make things like they used to.”)?  I really did not understand how purposeful and deliberate this is.  In a day and age when items should be lasting longer, they are being designed to break at record speeds in the name of profits and capitalism – and at the expense of our environment and consumer pocketbooks.

Armed with this knowledge, I was not happy when my car adapter broke and I was determined to handle its potential demise in an eco-friendly, consummate consumer sort of way.  My first instinct was to hit the car adapter, to see if that would “fix” it.  Okay, you may be laughing, but admit it – you have used this approach on one or two televisions or computers in the past!  I refrained, though I did wiggle it a bit.  My partner said to me, “well, it is broken, we will need to buy another one or see if we still have another one lying around the house from when we used to have two cars.”  While I would be happy to find said old car adapter lying around our house, I did not want to spend $15-$25 on a new car adapter – it seemed like such a waste.  I know that this silly little adapter was designed to last about two years, so can I fight this and save money and add less to the electronic landfills?

So, I did something I like to do – I took it apart.  When I did I found this:


This is a fuse, apparently they last about two years.  I was sure this was the problem – if I could just go buy another fuse, then my car adapter would be fixed.  Wow, I was SOOO proud of myself (yes, I really was).  So I went to one hardware store looking for a fuse – they did not have one.  I went to another.  WHERE THE HE** DO I BUY A FUSE AROUND HERE?  I had to go to find a specialty electric shop, and was told that they may not even have them.  Wow, are you kidding me? This device was designed to last only two years, due to the fuse, which I cannot replace – because no one will carry them because the public normally throws away their devices and does not think to replace a fuse.  Nice.  Great way to save our planet for our children and grandchildren.

I was determined to fix this on my own so I set out in search of a shop that would have a fuse for me.  I found the fuse at the third shop.  I was so proud of myself – a 50 cent purchase that would save my car adapter!  I HAD WON!!!!  YEA!!!!!

Except, I hadn’t.  The fuse replacement did not work, so then I decided to take the entire thing apart, hoping to find a loose wire.  Except it did not come apart as easily as I had hoped it would.  The black wire seemed to have been what had detached:


BUT I did not have a soldering iron and I needed to take it all apart in order to properly solder it together…… I thought I should look anyhow, so I did decide to take it apart.  I needed to apply a bit of pressure…. actually, a LOT of pressure…..  then I got a bit carried away….  and then this is what it ended up looking like:


…. and this:




Alas, I had succumbed to the realities of planned obsolescence – and lost an additional 50 cents at that!

I then went to our old electronic box and rescued the very old car adapter that used to be in my partner’s car – if it does not work when I plug it into my car in the morning, I think I will cry.


Today, 10 days ’til 40, I will continue to do what I can to not add to the landfills in our society and continue the fight against planned obsolescence.

To read more, go to:



Posted by on February 11, 2013 in Addiction, attitude, Old, Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

56 responses to “10 Days ’til 40: Planned Obsolescence = ROBBING CONSUMERS

  1. gretchenfogelstrom

    February 11, 2013 at 01:54

    Good try. I’m impressed you took it so far and felt confident that you could put the thing back together again! I hope tomorrow morning you don’t need to cry!

    • 400daystil40

      February 11, 2013 at 22:48

      Thankfully our old charger worked! In the past there have been things I have managed to get back together again – unfortunately, this was not one of them! 😦

  2. tiffany267

    February 11, 2013 at 02:29

    Well, since you’re taking this entrepreneurship class, why don’t you just design, produce, and market a charger that lasts longer? People cry about how companies are “robbing consumers” yet they’re the ones creating and offering a product you feel you just can’t live without, enough so that you’ll do anything to make it last longer than they designed it to last.

    FYI I suspect that government regulations probably affect the companies’ technical flexibility with their production (must not contain certain materials, wires must meet certain specs, etc.) So why don’t you take it up with the alphabet soup which is government administration? Oh no, much easier to blame the big, bad companies! The same ones that made your life more enjoyable thanks to their innovation.

    My point is, if you’re not satisfied with their product, why don’t you come up with a better one. Otherwise, you don’t have to buy it, you know.

    • 400daystil40

      February 11, 2013 at 22:47

      hehehe – I wish I could do that! I am in the class to design education-focused products, but it is a good idea!

  3. walkwiththerabbi

    February 11, 2013 at 02:36

    It seems to me that “planned obsolesence” (see Creative Destruction by Joseph Schumpeter)) will occur naturally without us having to resort to built -in self destruction in all that we create. The natural laws of the universe will take care of this quite nicely – thank you very much! The difference? A Capitalism “of the people, by the people and for the people (as proposed in “The Walk” – v.s. one that purports a Capitalism “of the few, by the few and for the few.” We are in desperate need of starting over!

  4. Toniandrukaitis

    February 11, 2013 at 05:01

    I usually take things apart too. Sometimes I fix them, sometimes not, but it’s always worth a try.

  5. Sid Dunnebacke

    February 11, 2013 at 06:28

    I’m sorry, FDTF, but I chuckled all the way through this. I hope it works for you as well!

    • 400daystil40

      February 11, 2013 at 22:45

      I am glad I could give you a laugh! 🙂

  6. PD

    February 11, 2013 at 07:23

    Awesome. 😀 I wish we’d get into the mentality of reusing and replacing as much as possible—the only part we seem to do (in the States) is the ‘recycle.’ Not enough.

    • 400daystil40

      February 11, 2013 at 22:45

      I hear you – and agree completely!

      • PD

        February 12, 2013 at 02:50

        I was recently in India and the attitude is completely the opposite. (And they know how it is here – they’re not impressed.)

  7. elfknitter

    February 11, 2013 at 09:00

    Oh, I’m sooooo with you on this one!

  8. Peter Cook - The Rock'n'Roll Business Blogger

    February 11, 2013 at 12:21


  9. getbusyyall

    February 11, 2013 at 12:29

    You may laugh, but I actually DID fix my computer once by smacking it. Good read.

    • 400daystil40

      February 11, 2013 at 22:44

      Hehehe – I have fixed my old TV’s a few times this way – “back in the day” – 🙂

  10. Spider42

    February 11, 2013 at 13:59

    Thank you.
    I’ve been saying this for ages!! Maybe it hit me more because growing up we weren’t as fully capitalist and a little less developed in some ways so neighbourhood repair shops for electronics and such was normal. Then I noticed over the years as they became less in number and now are gone… there used to be small watch shops where I could take my simple wrist-watch but even those aren’t around anymore and you need to go to a big shop.
    I have no dislike for capitalism and consumer culture, in a lot of ways I prefer them to the alternatives that are most likely to rise in their place – but it’s reaching ludicrous proportions globally. There is a tendency to waste, to have gotten used to disposable products and income and lack of real rational interest in outcomes of these choices. We’ve taken the free market model and essentially become a worst case scenario (or getting there anyhow).
    Just last night I was watching an episode of The Daily Show where people in charge are trying to pass billions to buy/manufacture new tanks while senior military guys are saying “we don’t need more tanks” and talking about how somewhere in nevada there is effectively a giant parking lot filled with tanks that are already not being used at all! 😀 And the pro-tank guys are talking about needing tanks to fight future wars with muslim country’s while not even knowing that the US is selling tanks to muslim country’s like Saudi Arabia!! I love the sheer stupidity of it all!

    • 400daystil40

      February 11, 2013 at 22:44

      Wow, these are all such good points. I also noticed that many smaller “fix it” shops are no longer in existence. It is sad, isn’t it? Yet, the landfills grow larger and larger by the day :(.

      • Spider42

        February 12, 2013 at 07:39

        Indeed it is, sad and a tad scary.

  11. sued51

    February 11, 2013 at 15:13

    Great post. It is so frustrating when you don’t want to give in to this. My brother is so proud because he tries to fix things and not to buy things: he does projects with old wood; he fixed a Dyson vacuum he found on the side of the road…my husband buys some things on Ebay and uses their parts.
    But sometimes it can’t be helped because the cards are stacked against us…hope that other adapter worked!

    • 400daystil40

      February 11, 2013 at 22:43

      Wow, good for your brother! Yes, the cards are stacked against us. Thankfully, the other adapter worked, though not amazingly.

  12. Heather

    February 11, 2013 at 16:45

    lol…I’m not laughing at you but with you…this is totally something I would do!!! It annoys me to no end when something like that stops working…when we know it could last longer if it was made slightly different…. 🙂

    • 400daystil40

      February 11, 2013 at 22:42

      Sure, you are not laughing at me! It is okay, I laugh at me too – sometimes I am the only one laughing at myself and then everyone thinks I am a bit weird! 🙂

  13. saymber

    February 11, 2013 at 17:39

    Reblogged this on saymberblondi and commented:
    How many of us have gone through this frustration?!

  14. saymber

    February 11, 2013 at 17:40 – if you’ve never been to this site before, I think you should take the time. It’s right up the alley of your mission here.

    • 400daystil40

      February 11, 2013 at 22:41

      I LOVE this site – and the TV show that goes along with it! 🙂

      • saymber

        February 12, 2013 at 15:44

        🙂 Thought you might!

  15. Trinity Rivers

    February 11, 2013 at 20:55

    Oh planned obsolescence ticks me off too, Well said!

  16. Organizational Specialist

    February 11, 2013 at 21:12

    I applaud your efforts and determination!

  17. spritesquadron

    February 11, 2013 at 22:20

    i laughed out loud. thanks for an interesting thing, i tottally appreciate what your doing for the planet

  18. E.G.D.

    February 11, 2013 at 23:52

    Haaaah. Yeah, we all know it’s happening, but I have to say that I don’t think about it most days. Your countdown is coming down to the wire! Have you figured out Life, the Universe, and Everything yet?

    • 400daystil40

      February 12, 2013 at 22:48

      Hmm, no I can’t say that I have figured out much of anything, but the journey was fun!

  19. viveka

    February 12, 2013 at 00:20

    Brilliant and funny … so glad I have my 15 year old Nokia still. *smile

  20. Rightoffcenter

    February 12, 2013 at 04:13

    Congrats. This is awesome. Some time back I had gone to an electric shop to look for a 5 A fuse wire. And they did not have it. Say nobody asks for them. They purchase ELCB – earth leakage circuit breaker that is of 1500 times expensive than a simple fuse wire.

    • 400daystil40

      February 12, 2013 at 22:45

      Wow, this story seems to be a common one!

  21. Janet Rörschåch

    February 12, 2013 at 05:16

    That was simply awesome. You tore the whole thing apart. You have an amazing brain. Blessings! Thank you for caring so much about the planet. May we all learn from you.

  22. thelastsongiheard

    February 12, 2013 at 05:48

    Planned obsolescence is rampant… this is why extended warranties are a waste of money… computers etc are only designed to last about four years… they typically work fine up til that point and then they start to go wrong. The vast majority of warranties will only cover you for the first four years – the time during which the product should be working fine – so they’re a complete waste of money.

    The only time I’ve bought a warranty has been for one of the following (and you end up paying a lot more for it)

    1) When the item is refurbished
    2) When it covers accidental damage
    3) When it covers the rechargeable battery

    NEVER believe the salesperson when they say “it covers everything” – ESPECIALLY loss and water damage because IT’S NOT INSURANCE!

    (sorry for shouting… it’s important LOL)

    You also have (legally) thirty days to decide if you want to buy the warranty and thirty days to change your mind afterwards. Don’t get suckered into it at the store – warranties are huge cash cows for the companies that sell them.

    Trust me – I used to work for one 😉

    • 400daystil40

      February 12, 2013 at 22:43

      Wow, great points – I am so glad you shared them with the readers of this blog!

  23. The Quiet Borderline (back in hospital)

    February 12, 2013 at 17:15

    You mechanic you! Haha.

    And I’m TOTALLY with you on these quick breaking electronics – absolutely disgusting! In a year and a half, I’ve gone through three original Apple iPhone headphones. 2 broke, very easily and one got stolen. I’m really good with all electronics and never drop them and always take care of them… Oh well. I’ve ordered some new headphones from the Internet. Some really nice ones, and put a bit of money in to it and made sure they had very good reviews all over. Hopefully they’ll be good.

    • 400daystil40

      February 12, 2013 at 22:39

      hehehe – if I were a more accomplished mechanic I would have managed to get it back together again…… 😦

      • The Quiet Borderline (back in hospital)

        February 14, 2013 at 23:25

        You tried though. Hey, it’s all practice!

  24. Another Thousand Words

    February 13, 2013 at 04:47

    After reading through the post, and all the comments, 400, it seems most people are pretty fed up with ‘planned obsolesence’…as am I. A for instance: I rarely use my cell phone, but have had to buy five of them in the last 11 and a half years. They just seem to stop working, or the battery dies…to replace the battery costs a lot more than the original phone! So very silly, while our landfills are becoming polluted with ‘rare earth metals’ that go into many electronic items, we seem to continue to toss these things away. Plastic lasts a very long time…much longer than a man lives. I guess many just do not care enough for our planet…the only one we can live on!

  25. Tunes'N'Tea

    February 13, 2013 at 21:38

    It’s a shame they make things to break instead of last. I mean they don’t need to make things bullet proof or last forever, but at least just not be made cheaply.

  26. simon7banks

    February 24, 2013 at 23:34

    This issue has been around a while. Fifty years ago it was much discussed with particular reference to the American car industry and the design of cars so they wouldn’t last long. To some extent publicity and consumer pressure has sorted this – for example, most cars are much better protected against rust now. So one way of fighting it is consumer pressure – demanding things that do last.


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