Why can't electronics on new washers & dryers be tougher?

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wrote:

Yep. In consumer electronics, for every dollar added to the cost of a board, the final product ends up costing about $4 more at wholesale, and perhaps $6 to $8 more at retail. Needless to say, keeping costs in line is fairly important to the manufacturer. Minimal design and component selection is epidemic everywhere. Having worked on some of these designs in the distant past, I can assure you that the choice is make it cheap or it won't sell. I called it the "NBC" (Nothing But the Cheapest) effect. However, think positive. The only thing that has prevented electronics from hitting rock bottom in quality are the various regulatory and certification agencies, which demand a minimal level of quality to insure the survival of the user, not the product.
Drivel: One of my friends is a rabid advocate for enforced quality in product design. He wants minimum Federal quality standards for consumer products along with mandatory lifetime testing, mandatory warranties, and litigatory relief. His theory is that if the US can't compete on the basis of price, it will need to do so on the basis of quality. Sounds like a plan. However, he recently rebuilt and remodeled his garage and bathroom. Instead of the highest quality contractor, he went for the cheapest and lowest bid, with predictable problems and over-runs. When I suggested this might be a bit hypocritical, he got very angry claiming he couldn't afford the best. Welcome to where theory meets reality.
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Ulysses wrote:

Buy a Canon. All three of mine[0] are well past their warranty, & are still going strong. (Including the original batteries!)
[0] An S30 digicam, an EOS-10D & an EOS-1Dmk2.
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| > wrote: | > | > >Its the "walmart syndrome" at work. People are trained to think that | > >price and not value is all that matters. So manufacturers do their best | > >to make cheap stuff to meet low price-low value demands. | > | > Yep. In consumer electronics, for every dollar added to the cost of a | > board, the final product ends up costing about $4 more at wholesale, | > and perhaps $6 to $8 more at retail. Needless to say, keeping costs | > in line is fairly important to the manufacturer. Minimal design and | > component selection is epidemic everywhere. Having worked on some of | > these designs in the distant past, I can assure you that the choice is | > make it cheap or it won't sell. I called it the "NBC" (Nothing But | > the Cheapest) effect. However, think positive. The only thing that | > has prevented electronics from hitting rock bottom in quality are the | > various regulatory and certification agencies, which demand a minimal | > level of quality to insure the survival of the user, not the product. | > | > Drivel: One of my friends is a rabid advocate for enforced quality in | > product design. He wants minimum Federal quality standards for | > consumer products along with mandatory lifetime testing, mandatory | > warranties, and litigatory relief. His theory is that if the US can't | > compete on the basis of price, it will need to do so on the basis of | > quality. Sounds like a plan. | | I have become extremely hesitant to buy any electronics any more. All of | the stuff seems to be crap that barely outlasts the warranty. For the first | time I actually paid for an extended warranty on a DVD recorder and ended up | needing it.
Buy it with a credit card that extends the mfgr's warranty by up to an additional year and forget the "extended warranty."
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On Mon, 1 Jun 2009 10:03:16 -0700, "Ulysses"
Mechanical calculators and slide rules are still available for those that fear electronics. I have several of each.

Worse. Some stuff is actually designed for a specific lifetime. It is possible to predict the average lifetime of components by knowing their operation parameters, thermal cycles, and specs. For example: <http://www.cde.com/tech/thermalapplet.pdf I've seen minimalist design, where the voltage ratings on most of the caps are intentionally selected so that they all fail at roughly the same time.
However, the warranty was never intended to protect the consumer. Warranties are designed to drive the independent repair shop out of business. Shops don't make money on what the factory pays to do in-warranty repairs. They only make money on out-of-warranty work. The longer the warranty, the less profitable the independent shop.

Most buyers of extended warranties never use them. It's a cash cow for the dealers and manufacturers selling them. The initial infant mortality failures are covered under the manufacturers warranty. Unless the device is suffering from severe quality issues that have a delayed reaction, such as bogus low-ESR electrolytics, you should not see any problems until long after the product is obsolete.
Incidentally, the average lifetime of a cell phone is currently 18 months. The typical laptop is 2 years. The typical desktop about 3-5 years (depending on brand). Why bother designing anything to last longer?

My mechanical calculator and slide rules will work longer than your Brownie. I find it difficult to determine quality on initial inspection. I have to tear something apart, look inside at the components used, get some idea as to how it's built, and play with it a while to see if it does everything it claims. Tearing apart a DVD player or camera in the store is usually discouraged. I usually grab the FCC ID number, and look at the inside photos on the FCC site. I also read reviews and user experiences. Despite this, I still manage to have problems. I have about 4 cameras and *ALL* of them have been either repaired under warranty, or had some fundamental defect that required a class action suit and subsequent warranty extension. I don't do much better with computers. Everything requires firmware and driver updates. Some are so bad, that the vendor had to extend the warranty for free (BGA failure): <http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/document?docname 1087277&lc=en&cc=us>
However, I have more than the average clue as to what it would cost to make consumer electronics sufficiently reliable. It's not just better components. It also requires better testing, design overhead, more lead time, reparability analysis, etc. Offhand, my guess(tm) is that it would at least increase the retail cost about 50-100%. Wanna pay double for better quality? Most people won't.
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wrote:

Not true in my state. Warrantee labor must be paid at the shop's posted rate, same as retail over the counter non-warrantee labor. The manufactures also have to pay a markup on parts used.
<snip>

Many people already do. Some people shop for chinese junk at walmart, and some go to better stores and buy higher quality merchandise. In many cases, I pay 200%, 300% or more, over what a cheap product costs, because I want to get something better. You'll note that you can also buy a new car for $12,000 or $120,000. One of them may be somewhat better quality.
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On Sat, 06 Jun 2009 21:36:42 -0400, snipped-for-privacy@dog.com wrote:

Which state?
In the California, such things are covered under the Business and Professional Code. Section 9800-9879 for Electronic and Appliance Repair Dealers. <http://law.justia.com/california/codes/bpc.html (Chapter 20) Consumer warranties are covered under the Calif Civil Code at: <http://law.justia.com/california/codes/civ.html Title 1.7 Nothing on warranty reimbursement rates for electronics. There were substantial changes to the code in 2005, which protected vehicle, snowmobile, lawn mower, and powered machinery repair shops and which do require manufacturer reimbursement at shop rates.
However, I've been out of the warranty repair biz for about 12 years and have not been paying attention to the latest laws. Unless I missed something (a real possibility) and in my reading of the aforementioned sections, California warranty reimbursements are still set by contract with the manufacturer.
Fun reading: <http://www.warrantyweek.com Note the drop in warranty rates (as percent of sales) from 2007 to 2008. Ouch. There's quite a bit on extended warranties and terms further down the page. "Extended warranties generate in the vicinity of $15 billion per year in premiums paid by consumers. Only half of that total goes to the actual administrators and underwriters of the policies, however. Roughly half is kept by retailers and dealers as sales commissions." Now you know why dealers just love to sell extended warranties. They're all profit for the dealer.

I also do so, but only when I can afford it. In areas that I'm familiar with (electronics), I can usually distinguish between junk and quality. Even so, it's often difficult and I've made my share of bad purchases. I must also admit that I prefer to buy used equipment and vehicles, which are in a different class with no warranty. (Ok, I'm cheap and proud of it.) One huge advantage of buying used is that the product has been around long enough to develop a reputation. If there are any problems, the complaints will be all over the internet.
One problem with "Chinese junk" is finding an alternative. So many US industries have been "offshored" that finding a domestic manufactured equivalent (or better) has been difficult or impossible.
I must confess to throwing some money away by purchasing a used car from a dealer about 5 months ago. I overpaid because I wanted a no-hassle, no-problem, no-complications vehicle. I found one and overpaid for it. The dealer offered some free oil changes and a 30 day warranty that wasn't used. It was a good buy.
In a past life, I helped design some consumer electronics. These days, I still do some design, but mostly fix computers (because it's easier). In product design, was not unusual to spend as much time and effort on the package, cosmetics, industrial design, feel, and even the smell, of the product, as with the contents. For example, I worked on a radio that didn't sell well. The merchandising consultant declared that this was because it didn't weigh enough. When faced with multiple competing and superficially identical products, the typical consumer will usually buy the heaviest. We then added some cosmetic scrap iron and aluminum to the product to add nothing but mass. After a color and model number change (new and improved) it sold well.
Incidentally, I once worked for a manufacturer of marine radios. Consumer Reports Magazine published a comparison of various manufacturers radios. One of the competitors used the exact same electronics as we did, but inside a different package. Otherwise, they were identical. Consumer Reports gave them the grand prize, while we were near the bottom of the list. So much for impartial product testing and being able to distinguish between quality and junk.
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wrote: (...)
If you're in Europe, you get a free 2 year unlimited extended warranty on everything: <http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/bargains-and-rip-offs/article.html?in_article_idH7304
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Jeff Liebermann wrote:

30 years ago, I worked for Tandy Repair, the repair division of Radio Shack. Back then, the Asian electronics were made in Japan and some stuff was pretty good and some was cheap junk. Different Japanese companies supplied units. I remember Uniden and GRE as some of the main suppliers and if I remember right, some things came from Panasonic. I don't recall if there was any gear coming out of China. Heck, now everything is Chinese and I'm seeing a lot of failures due to lack of quality at the component and board level.
TDD
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wrote:

Consumer Reports is a fraud. They do that sort of thing on a regular basis. They are either grossly incompetent or completely crooked. Take your pick, those are the only two choices.
I lived in Capitola and in SC in the early 70's. NIce area, or it was back then.
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snipped-for-privacy@dog.com wrote:
[...]

Back when I ran a Toshiba-authorised service centre, the warranty service rate was about $35 for 20-30 minute job. Probably 3/4s of our work was warranty work, & I managed to do it at a profit.
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wrote:

Toshiba got sued in my state and lost. They pay over the counter rates. The manufactures have responded by making most warrantee claims for smaller items an exchange with no repair involved.
They ain't a gonna pay someone $120 to fix an item that sold retail for $49. They just give the custometr a new one.
Most of the old TV and Radio repair guys are long gone.
I still have my license, but I'll never use it again. I got mine when the test included those "new" things called transistors that were starting to replace vacumn tubes.
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snipped-for-privacy@dog.com wrote:

Do you remember when a horizontal output tube was $5.00 and a horizontal output transistor cost $35.00?
TDD
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wrote:

A typical mid-range car stereo that sells for around $200 costs less than $2 to manufacture. Everything else is marketing and markups.
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I used to repair similar circuit boards often replacing the parts with beefier ,better quality parts. I worked myself out of a job. The particular boards I was repairing were only used by a reativly few and once I made my repairs/mods they almost never failed again. Part of may also have been that my customers realized I wasnt actually troublshooting the board, rather I was repacing everything on the board with better parts. They could do that for themselves.
Jimmie
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On Sun, 31 May 2009 08:58:38 -0700, "Ulysses"

Two companies in the business, where else are you going to go. One did it and made the product cheaper, the other had to follow.>.
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That explains why there are no washers or dryers that cost more than $200.
Oh, wait a minute a minute, there are. Kind of blows your theory to hell.
For example, if people hear that maytag neptunes have serious reliability problems, but LG's costing $100 more don't, and they buy the LG instead it is a perfect example of a maker choosing to pay attention to the quality of the electronics and yet being able to remain in business.
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wrote:

narrow
replacement
electronics
Yes, I understand, but knowing what we know now would you be willing to pay $50 more for a washing machine if you were confident it was going to last 30 years instead of 5?
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Looking at the size of traces or components on an electronic circuit board is just about meaningless. Almost all of these today are digital, which work on signals of micro amps. The only areas carrying any current of substance, typically are driving a relay, solenoid, etc. or part of the power supply, if that happens to be on the board. That area of the board does need to have the proper size trace.

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snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

Bullshit. low currents, yes, but you need to read some datasheets. I worked at a manufacturer of top of the line telemetry equipment. Traces that are very thin are prone to stress cracks. My specialty was the embedded controller computer board we built in house, and they had to be reliable. They controlled the equipment NASA uses to track their launches, and all their satellites.

I'm happy that I never had to work with you. A washer or dryer is a damp environment, with continuous vibration, while in use. Potting will keep most of the moisture away, but that can cause SMD components to be pulled off the board. A sealed container is better, but can add to the vibration problems, due to the extra weight.
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