Consumers irked by goods built to break

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Consumers irked by goods built to break
Photo: DPA

That two-year-old fridge that spluttered and died? The washing machine you had to replace after a year? Such planned obsolescence is no accident, with a new German study warning that many goods are not being made to last.


Often, manufacturers build in fatal flaws on purpose to boost their own sales, according to a study commissioned by the Green party.

Electronic goods such as printers, headphones, washing machines or electric tooth brushes which last less than one or two years may have been badly made on purpose, or at least knowingly, the study released this week suggested.

For example, parts known to be sensitive to heat, in say dishwashers, are put just where they would get hot, wrote Die Welt newspaper on Wednesday.

"It's a "scandal," said Green MP Dorothea Steiner. Faced with the growing problem of disposing with what Steiner called "immense piles" electronic waste, the party is now calling for tighter rules to stop manufacturers intentionally making goods that are not meant to last.

Rules should ensure that consumers can easily repair goods and exchange individual faulty parts, said the Greens, after the study identified smartphones, notebooks and toothbrushes where batteries cannot be replaced.

Other goods or cases cannot be taken apart because they are glued rather than screwed together.

Regulations governing guarantees and warranties should also be reformed, said Nicole Maisch, Green party spokeswoman on consumer affairs as she presented the report in Berlin on Wednesday.

Industry representatives dismissed the criticism and denied limiting the life spans of their goods.

"Electronic household goods have long life spans," said Werner Scholz, head of the German association of electronics manufacturers (ZVEI) and added that of Germany's 180 million household devices, almost 75 million were at least a decade old.

"A consumer whose washing machine breaks after a relatively short time will surely buy their next device from another manufacturer," said Scholz.

DPA/The Local/jlb


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