In case you need yet another thing to piss you off in this world,I forgot to thank you for reminding me how utterly pissed-off it makes me every time something I buy suffers from PO (Planned Obsolescence). A bit of a rant:Start of rant.
In the UK in the '70s, the Consumer's Association drew public attention to the PO of the common incandescent electric lightbulb. Most lightbulbs employed a single tungsten filament strung in a small array inside the bulb. After not more than a few hundred on-and-offs, the filament could take the repeated expansion and contraction no more, and snapped, melting at the point of fracture - as it arced and overheated whilst the filament was parting. This made it "flash" as it failed. The bulb had "blown" - on the same principle as a common electric fuse.
For years, the lightbulb manufacturers had planned for this in their production schedules.
After the Consumer's Association had drawn public attention to the PO, some manufacturers belatedly started to produce coiled filaments
and then coiled coil filaments
, using already well-known technology, which used a coiled tungsten filament instead of a single straight filament. They could have started manufacturing these years before, but they did not until the Consumer's Association drew public attention to the PO.
The life of these bulbs was much
longer due to the coil taking up the expansion/contraction as a whole, rather than it straining a single straight filament.
The UK government had pretty good consumer protection laws - e.g., to protect consumers from unscrupulous product/service suppliers. I think they eventually introduced a ban on the single filament lightbulbs as they were clearly a ripoff and wastefull, and the manufacturers were clearly not going to stop pushing the lightbulbs into the market unless they were prohibited from doing so. Why should they? The single filament bulbs were highly profitable.
The Consumer's Association in the UK was very effective in publicising this and similar cases of consumer ripoffs, and corresponding change was brought about as a direct result.
When I went to New Zealand in the '80s, it was like going back in time to the "dark ages" of consumerism in the UK. I was surprised to note that the NZ Consumer's Association seemed apathetic, utterly weak and ineffective - a complete waste of time.
A few years later, whilst on a management training course at NZ's Massey University, we were given a talk by the then CEO of the NZ Consumer's Association. In the Q&A time after his talk, I asked him why the NZ version of the Consumer's Association was not so proactive, agitative and forcing of change in consumer rights protection and regulations. I gave examples.
His reply staggered me: "Well, the NZ Consumer's Association reflects its members' needs. The character of NZ people is a lot more laid back than the British people, so we don't like to get too pushy." (OWTTE)
This explained a lot to me - it made sense - for example, the NZ Automobile Association seems to be equally apathetic and useless when compared to its UK counterpart.
In any event, the next day I cancelled my subscription to the NZ Consumer's Association and I have not renewed it since.
I have kept my eye on their magazine though, but sadly I think the NZ Consumer's Association still seems to be apathetic and a complete waste of time, and the NZ consumer protection laws (e.g., consumer advertising standards) are virtually non-existant, and what little they have lacks teeth or is otherwise ineffective - especially where the NZ Consumer's Association might have been able to claim that they had been involved.
With this as a background to ignorance, the typical NZ consumer is relatively undiscerning and remains a sucker waiting to be taken advantage of, and "Caveat emptor"
is certainly still the best advice for consumer protection.
The manufacturers, producers and retailers are seemingly well aware of this, and the products in the marketplace, TV advertising, and selling methods all reflect this situation. The corporation is king and has control over production and the consumer. What few consumer protection laws exist also reflect this - even extending to statutes limiting people's employment contract rights. (Employed people are the best consumers as they have a personal disposable income and thus the propensity to consume.)
So, do not be surprised if you find, if/when you visit NZ, that the single tungsten filament bulb still
dominates, and most NZ consumers wouldn't have the foggiest idea of what a"coiled coil" tungsten filament was. Only relatively recently have the low-wattage fluorescent bulbs been pushed into ("flooded" might be a better term) the marketplace - apparently at the manufacturers' behest. These bulbs are unnecessarily expensive, and - from my experience - typically have a limited life, starting to go dimmer and dimmer, so you have to replace them before they actually fail. Vance Packard was spot-on.
This sort of thing in a modern Western-type society would usually reflect the power of manufacturing lobbies in government, rather than anything accidental, and it probably could not have got that way without corruption and/or coercion being involved.End of rant.