Friday, March 06, 2009

Built to last or built to break

Buying electrical appliances is a real headache nowadays. Just not too long ago, there were trusted brands like National or Philips or Sony etc. When the name National was mentioned, I associated it with refrigerator or cassette/radio. For Philips, I associated it with general household appliances and for Sony, I immediately associated it with high quality audio/video equipment.
However, to remain competitive, the once trusted brands have diversify their businesses and at the same time, lower the quality. The local variant of Japanese brands have to fight the Korean.
I bought this National fridge in Singapore back in 1981. After 28 years of service, it is still in perfect condition. The magnetic seals on the doors work perfectly and strong as ever. I serviced it twice - both to change the blower fan and to clean the discharge tubing.

Then in 2001, thinking that the brand is still as good, I bought another National fridge...
... to my disappointment, the quality is so poor that I just couldn't believe it. In just about two years, all the shelves broke because they were made of plastic. Then the magnetic seals on the door lost their strength! I must be extra careful when closing the doors or I would find the door opened by itself!
Another interesting fact I notice nowadays is the way they measure fridge capacity. Last time, they talked about net capacity, ie, that is the volume you expect. Now, only the clever engineers who did the calculation knew how they arrive at the figure.
So, my old trusted Sanyo fan broke down after some 20 years of service. Looking around, we tried National fan. After about 3 years of usage, the plastic base disintegrated!

Oh... forgot to mention, my vacuum cleaner from a supposedly trusted brand make a pooosh sound last weekend and I saw smoke everywhere. I bought it in 2001 also. I also got a Hoover vacuum cleaner bought in 1980 and it is still going strong! Any recommendation?

So, what is your trusted brand now? What do you generally buy for fridge or fan or whatever.

I think I will try Korean brands next!


Ian said...

Don't bother with the Koreans - they fare worse, trust me.. except with possible exception Samsung.

For base fans, get KDK, these were very good, and still good.

For TV, Samsung is a better value, even though it might not last any more longer than a Sony equivalent.

Lastly, the electronics of today have sensitive minuscule components, be sure to use surge protectors. I would assume your house is getting pretty old as well, the electrical wirings might not be as good and unstable currents will shorten electronics' life.

Ian said...

Oh yes, thanks to GreenPeace, all of the products has to be biodegradable and "Green" one way or another, so that's basically what you're seeing - biodegrading right in front of you.. :D

William said...

Ian.... LOL. I like what you say! Absolutely true. That is why it is biodegrading right in front of me.

Kimberly said...

for fan, might wana try KDK.

William said...

Kim, KDK is indeed not bad! Thanks.

Nil said...

Don't bother with Korean brands. A good brand is a German brand like Siemens but unfortunately they cost a bomb in Malaysia. There is another brand, also German but that too costs more than Siemens. BUt they last a lot longer like the old Nationals and Sony's.

i e R said...

i wouldnt compare brand... no point, i go straight to the core, the material it is made of, in the pass, those old fans are 90% metals.... today's fan, plastic is far more cheaper and easier to build, hence the quality is so bad.
shop around, sometimes, u will find what u really need that will last. experince teach us well.

FM Luder said...

This is always a good question - "which brand do I go for?". I guess we all just go off either our own experience or word of mouth, or both. But sometimes word of mouth can be misleading!

You would be surprised how many of the top brands use 'cheap' parts. Once their projects run out of budget all they're bothered about is getting the product out there. Admittedly, when our company designs websites and we run out of time budget, we will try and send it out quickly even though some parts are 'fragile' (and then fix it later of course).

I guess if things have to be bio-degradable nowadays then this can reduce item quality. Which means it's going to get disposed of quickly. Therefore it's a good job they are bio-degradadble I guess!

There is another thought... don't these company's keep a relative balance on how often their products expire? I mean, these companies want you to keep buying and re-buying from them. William, maybe National learned that they are better off building naff refrigerators because they can't afford to keep afloat if people only purchase from them every 28 years! And even if EVERYONE bought from them every 28 years, I doubt it would keep them afloat!


William said...

FM Luder, regarding your last paragraph, that is what I have in mind also. They have to reduce quality to keep themselves afloat. I also notice that a lot of equipment actually fail not long after the warranty expiry. This is to keep their service department afloat!

Kong said...

If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys. Ditto the product you buy.

Unfortunately, everybody wants to pay peanuts nowadays.