Thirty years ago when a pair of sneakers was approximately one year old I remember the shoe lace would typically break and I would replace it and wear it for a second year, or close to it.
Fifteen years ago after one year the entire sneaker would be falling apart.
Five years ago a typical pair of sneakers would fall apart after about six months even though I didn’t put nearly as much wear and tear on them as when I was younger and wore them all day every day and was more active. If I put the same amount of wear and tear on them now as I did then, the pairs of sneakers that used to last close to two years would almost certainly fall apart in only four months.
Now when I purchase a pair of sneakers, for the first time in decades, I make that purchase last two years again!
Not that the pair lasts that long but the people at the store now know that they’re going to have to stand behind their merchandise from now on; because I have made it clear that I am not going to take it anymore. And furthermore they have already started restoring the quality they previously had although they haven’t done so to the standards that they provided thirty years ago; instead it may be the standards they had about ten years ago. But this is enough to indicate that they must be facing more backlash from other customers as well since they wouldn’t change their practices based solely on the complaints of one customer.
I wrote about this on several other blogs about the subject, for the complete series see author tag A small sucess against planned obsolescence; so I won’t go into too much detail about how I made it clear that I was holding them accountable; and that if they didn’t stand by their products and replace them then they could face legal action that could potentially lead to a much bigger lawsuit if it turned into a class action lawsuit; and that I would also speak out loud and clear if they didn’t replace them making it clear to other potential customers that they aren’t the only ones that are paying the price for planned obsolescence and much lower quality of merchandise than we used to be able to receive before the corporations consolidated into a small number of oligarchies.
For that one purchase I wound up getting three free replacement pairs of sneakers by the time it was done and the third pair will almost certainly last two years after the original purchase price and the quality of it is almost certainly as good if not better than at least the first two pairs if not the third as well. It may seem to many as if I have pushed things a little too much but when you consider the business practices of modern oligarchies and how much they’re gouging customers for products that are manufactured under atrocious conditions and marked up an enormous amount to cover shipping, celebrity endorsements, lobbying, expenses, campaign contributions and outrageous profits I don’t think it is unreasonable at all. The only people that aren’t getting a significant portion of the price paid by consumers is almost certainly the workers in the sweatshops that produce them which is why they can’t produce quality merchandise.
They’re being abused so bad that they can’t possibly make decent merchandise.
Not that the oligarchies want decent merchandise at all; in fact as long as consumers remain complacent and keep replacing these products without complaining they can continue reducing the quality of the merchandise and increasing their profits. They’ve been increasing the size of the economy by forcing consumers to buy things over and over again so that we often have to buy many items four or five times as often as we used too.
This isn’t supposed to be the way it works in a competitive market; but this isn’t a competitive market at all; it’s an oligarchy market or a monopoly market depending on how you look at it.
Over the past thirty years most if not all of the reforms that have been implemented in the early half of the twentieth century presumably starting with the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, which has for the most part been watered down so badly or eliminated by deregulation policies that it no longer seems to have much of an impact at all. With all the mergers and acquisitions over the past thirty years and the fact that they have interlocking board members it hardly seems to be capable of making any difference anymore and there is little or no reason to believe that it will in the future unless people start standing up for their rights again the way it was when they began the improvement that were implemented for a while at least so that the quality of life was steadily improving for most people until the seventies.
After reading “Industrial Conspiracies” a speech given by Clarence S. Darrow over a hundred years ago recently it became clear that we’re running into many of the same problems that they ran into at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century; and they’re simply using many of the same tactics to rig the system over again although with a few twists.
Now in addition to the tactics they used a hundred years ago they’re also using globalization so that they can conduct many of their labor abuses in other parts of the world and with control of the media the coverage of many of the things that they do is often kept to a minimum although it isn’t completely suppressed and they also use more advanced indoctrination tactics or propaganda than they used a hundred years ago. This includes marketing tactics that target children from an early age that I wrote about in several blogs including Count Down to Black Friday Riots, where I wrote about how these marketing tactics were almost certainly increasing the hype surrounding Black Friday and cited an enormous amount of credible research to back it up.
In fact when I asked for the most recent replacement I had that research ready to discuss if there was any doubt about whether it was justified as well as additional research about typical business practices used by many of these oligarchies from Green America which provides an enormous amount of information about many companies that they don’t want to discuss if they have a choice since many consumers would be much less complacent about their purchases if they knew more about how much they’re being gouged. They have plenty of information about most major oligarchies including Wal-Mart which wasn’t where this particular purchase was made but that is beside the point. It also included the information I had the previous times and information from Open Secrets.org; it doesn’t include quotes from Darrow’s speech which could potentially have been helpful since I came across it afterwards but it could next time assuming that the corporations don’t completely change their ways. It wasn’t necessary to go through any of this though; perhaps someone recognized me and knew what they could be in for if they had any objections so she agreed to quickly provide a free replacement after no more than a brief explanation.
Another thing worth considering is that they seem to have changed the methods of providing credits; the first time they gave me a store credit card and I had to go through the register again; now they have an option of a merchandise exchange that enables them to tell a customer they can just get the same product for the same price and exchange it without collecting all the information; this is a little quicker and it enables them to record their information in a different manner. What goes back to the corporate office may not be the full story about how people are complaining and how they handle them in most cases; they may just send statistics back; or perhaps they arrange for information to be handled in multiple ways so the numbers are sent through one channel to one source who could remain ignorant of information they don’t want to know for plausible deniability reasons; and other information could be sent to different sources who make different decisions. This way they can have a public relations officer who can honestly say that he or she is not aware of certain kinds of information; because the information they don’t want to admit to isn’t shared with that person.
This is typical legal think. They routinely develop methods of spinning things so they can acknowledge only the facts that they want to; but it may also be part of the reason why they can be slow to respond to many problems; in a big corporation for one reason or another the information they need to make decisions may not get to the right person.
The last time I wrote about this I indicated that the quality of the sneakers seemed like they might be good enough to last for a year again which would have meant that another replacement wouldn’t have been necessary. The majority of the sneaker was much better quality but shortly after I wrote that the sole started opening up in one spot and it expanded faster over several months. If they had slightly better quality control and checked that one flaw then the sneaker might have lasted as I thought it might. In “No Logo“ Naomi Klein wrote about how they have been shutting down real manufacturing plants over the past several decades and replacing them with fly by night sweatshops; now that they seem to be facing a backlash it may be that they’re finding that they have to learn over again how to produce quality merchandise.
The stupidity boggles the mind.
These are the same tactics that Clarence Darrow exposed over a hundred years ago and his speech was there all the time while they were in the process of of restoring the Oligarchies or Robber Barons as they used to call them.
Most teenagers know that if they take up to about 10 or 20 percent of their parent’s liqueur and water it down they have a good chance of getting away with it; but if they take 80 to 90 percent of it they’re guaranteed to get caught.
The people in the corporate office don’t seem to know this any more.
It’s hard to believe that the attitude displayed in Mitt Romney’s 47 percent speech is typical of the way they think in the corporate office but if it is then that could partially explain how they let this get so extreme.
Planned obsolescence is especially important now with the escalation of Climate Change and other pollution related problems and the fact that they will inevitably have a much bigger impact in the future. This is something that many people without money can do a lot in the short term to make a difference and instead of paying to protecting the environment they can save by protecting the environment which is often the way it can and should work. Their might be some exceptions in the short term like solar energy which is still more expensive than oil until you factor in the damages done by oil to the environment; but conservation involves savings that come with protecting the environment and standing up to this creates conservation. Also it would help to bring the factories back to America and take advantage of factory direct which used to provide better quality and less overhead from middle men or sub contractors.
The claim that they pass on the savings for their outsourcing to consumers is just plain wrong, but they repeat it over and over again like most propaganda. The only thing they pass on to consumers is the lower quality and environmental damage while they keep all the profits.
This could be a great tactic for organizations like 350.org or Occupy Wall Street since many of their supporters don’t have a lot of money they would be much more able to contribute by using this tactic and save money instead of donating to sincere organizations that are generally under-funded. Then on occasion they might be able to donate part of what they save to the organization they think actually supports their goals unlike multi-national corporations.
All Nativ products in Southern California seems to have come up with a good business plan that isn’t focused solely on profit for their products but this is just for surf boards and snow boards; we need alternatives for every day items that are much more important to the quality of life. An organization like Green America might be much more inclined to do a better job for a larger variety of items if they had more attention and resources. They already provide an enormous amount of information that can be used to help keep major corporations accountable; but more needs to be done since, for now the majority still seems to be complacent.