The Men Who Made Us Spend

I'm surprised this BBC programme hasn't been mentioned here
www.tvguide.co.uk/detail/1983179/100084010/the-men-who-made-us-spend
Swatch, Ikea, CAD - all responsible for our throwaway society. Really ?
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On 15/07/2014 00:07, Jabba wrote:

The bit about incandescent light bulbs was interesting, but was it totally true? AIUI, bulbs that last longer use more power for a given light output and therefore may so cost effective.
--
Michael Chare

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Its true that there was a formal agreement to limit the life of the bulbs produced with fines for those who made them last longer than what had been agreed to.

Sure, but if that was all that was involved, there wouldn't be any need for any collusion on what was produced, let alone fines for those that produce bulbs that lasted longer but which produced the same amount of light.
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The revelation of the lightbulb cartel was a little misleading in failing to mention that there was, in this case, a sound technical reason for designing to a 1000 hour lifetime rather than a 2000 hour lifetime.
The industry does offer a 'long life' 2000 hour rated lamp for use where the extended lamp replacement costs reduction outweighs the higher electrity costs involved with using lamps of lower luminous efficacy.
Obviously, the cartel preferred the more efficient 1000 hour rating since it effectively doubled demand. You could make a tungsten filament lamp that would last 100,000 hours if you were prepared to pay for the tenfold increase in electrical consumption for the same percieved colour temperature by use of filters incorporated in a lamp of one fifth or so luminous efficacy of the 1000 hour lamp.
I was rather surprised that the cartel had decreed self imposed penalties for departing from the 1000 hour life rating by relatively small deviations from the ideal. It rather begs the question as to how would they find out? Presumably, random purchasing and life testing of each other's product.
Compared to the tricks by the likes of Apple (and Microsoft who, notably, were ignored) and Ikea and Swatch, this Lightbulb Cartel was positively benign. The treatment of the Lightbulb cartel was a little unfair to say the least. True, it was a very early example of a cartel driven form of 'obsolence' but of a product that was (and is) accepted as being a 'throwaway consumable' in the first place.
Apart from that less than accurate treatment of 1920s light bulb manufacturers, the rest of the program seemed to pretty well sum up the the way that big business/retail has taken PT Barnum's truism that "There's one born every minute' to heart. Global marketting(sp?) has always been about manipulating populations into becoming 'dutiful consumers', after all, it's what makes the world go round.
The push for clean and safe nuclear power (LFTR) might actually come from these same companies when they realise that such levels of 'consumerism' will become unsustainable once the fossil fuels run out.
I can imagine them running re-education programs to rectify the false beliefs held by the 'eco-green warrior' class of deluded fools (not all delusional beliefs are good for global business enterprises).
Our salvation as the dominent species on this planet might well come from these 'evil companies' once the penny has finally dropped' as to which industries (eg. Oil Industry) to penalise for their counterproductive activities to the scheme of an everlasting exploitation of the consumer class.
Market forces might indeed prove to be the way forward, especially as such industries seem to be taking more of an interest in 'foreign policy' than our current 'democratic' governments seem to be doing. I'm sure these companies would rather see less conflict and more political stability worldwide to further their ambitions.
I'm not claiming that this will actually happen, just suggesting that a solution to the global problems could, logically speaking, come from the most surprising of sources (assuming that global nirvana is at all possible).
--
J B Good

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wrote:

Its going to be interesting to see how that sort of thing pans out with china being the main place that stuff is made now.
Corse it may not change much with the design stuff being done in the west by those majors and the only difference is where they choose to have it manufactured and so can do what you propose anyway.
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wrote:

They did mention that - they implied it was a "ruse".
And in any case coming up with a "system" of fine for exceeding the 1000 hours doesn't allow the manufactures to provide a "commercial" choice.

for which, under the above agreement they would have been "fined" (apparently)

I don't agree
It was an industry wide agreement. Such things are the worst cancer of all. Individual companies "encouraging" you to buy more of "their" product using marketing "tricks", when you have perfectly acceptable alternative choices, is the benign case here.
tim
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Not sure about that. I'd have thought going back a lot longer than that one can trace the throw away thing. It was when they stopped repairing consumer electronics and priced stuff so low you just threw the old one.
Anyone for a transistor radio form the 60s? Brian
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And that has always been true of some stuff.

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I'm surprised no-one has mentioned anything from the new George Clark series.
(perhaps it's hidden under a non obvious title)
tim
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tim..... wrote:

Or the one on the construction of Crossrail ...
<http://bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04b7h1w
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No, I don't buy it either.
It was cheap manufacture in China that did that.
I've never heard of anybody throwing away a Swatch on a regular basis. I only know one person who has one and for her it was a "one time" special purchase.
And whilst people might replace IKEA furniture more frequently than others I don't think many people throw it away on an annual basis (or even when they move house). The inconvenience of having to have large stuff delivered (and dumping the old one), stops most people from doing that.
And the idea that the miners (and others) when on strike because they "thought that they were being excluded from the consumer society" is just made up nonsense.
They went on strike because they "wanted more money" - end of. They were just as likely to want it to spend on extra beer, than a proliferation of consumer goods.
tim
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On 15/07/14 09:27, tim..... wrote:

Beer IS a consumer good.

--
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rare story of which you happen to have first-hand knowledge. – Erwin Knoll
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Neither do I.

Nope, it started happening LONG before that.
I'm old enough to remember the 'cheap Jap' line LONG before china ever got involved in that stuff.

That's just as true of lots of other stuff like modern stainless steel cutlery.

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Lamp efficiency wasn't a big factor back then from the energy cost perspective, indeed some people were still paying for electricity by the number lampholders rather than actual usage.
So whilst what they did actually makes perfect sense today (and lamp life should probably have been reduced to 750 hours here, as it was in the US for many types of lamp), it wasn't done for those reasons back then.
However, that was a different time, and cartels were not frowned upon as much as they are today.
Cartels still exist today, but they work differently. With the number of lamp manufactures significantly reduced, they put pressure on the regulators to ban the types of lamp they can no longer make a good margin on, as a means to keep their high margin products selling. The cartel tends to be between a manufacturer and a regulator now - it's easier than actually competing in the marketplace.
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Andrew Gabriel
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On 15/07/2014 09:30, Andrew Gabriel wrote:

<snip>
UK 240 volt bulbs used to work in France on 230V, and lasted longer but gave out less light. The reverse also took some people by surprise when they bought cheap bulbs on the shopping cruises that used to be popular 25 years ago. Gave out lots of light (here) and went pop very quickly.
Since about last November, the voltage where I live in west sussex has definately dropped. My plug-in watt-o-meter always showed 242 volts, for years and years. For a brief period in ?2011 it was showing 187 volts (*) and then recovered. Now it shows 230 volts, but I can't remember the exact date when it changed. I believe it was late last year. I thought harmonization just resulted in the upper and lower limits being altered ?.
There is a Woolworths 60 watt bulb in my bathroom, that was there when I moved here in 1991, and it is still going strong. Maybe not on for very long, but it still gets switched on/off regularly.
(*) And about 6 months later the electro-mechanical thermostat in my Liebherr fridge failed - ?connection.
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On 15/07/2014 11:35, Andrew wrote: ...

Initially, but the long term aim is that the voltages will be changed to the nominal voltages as equipment is replaced / upgraded.
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Colin Bignell

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On Wednesday, July 16, 2014 8:56:12 AM UTC+1, Nightjar wrote:

Whose equipment?
I don't intend to replace any of mine.
Owain
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On 16/07/2014 10:34, snipped-for-privacy@gowanhill.com wrote:

Electricity distribution equipment, which is what sets your supply voltage.
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Colin Bignell

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No it does not.

No it should not.

Yes, there is only one reason for fining those operations that produced a bulb that lasted longer but which produced the same light output, shafting the consumer.

In fact they are explicitly illegal in many jurisdictions now.

No.

That isnt the reason for the ban in incandescents.
If it was, there would be a ban on long tube fluoros too and there isnt.

That isnt a cartel, that's collusion.

And yet there is a hell of a lot of competition in the marketplace with LEDs currently most obviously.
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I have an IKEA bed bought in 1980 - in Switzerland. Subsequently it went to California and came back with me to the UK. It has been dis- and re-mantled a number of times as a result of all these moves. I bought a second such bed 20 years ago and that is going strong, too.
These are perfectly good and comfortable beds, which are able to be moved easily from house to house (whether the designers had that in mind at the time, I neither know or care).
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those who insist on a perfect world, freedom will have to do." -- Bigby Wolf
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