About seven years ago I invested in a good, mid-grade gas range. In addition to the usual burner dials or knobs, it came with a digital control panel where you would find the clock, timer, self-clean control, convection control and all the standard oven settings (bake, broil, etc.) and probe cooking.
It was still under warranty when the digital control panel failed but the vendor sent out a repair guy and he installed the replacement part in the course of which he told me how damned expensive it was and, worse yet, that it was the most vulnerable, failure-prone component of them all. I've been leery of that stove ever since.
Things began failing. The oven light system went down. The thermal glass pane on the inside of the oven door cracked. They were inconvenient but no huge deal. Then the dreaded control panel failed yet again.
If you're not familiar with them, there are appliance parts stores where you can buy spares. All you need is the manufacturer and the model number. Plug that info into the search window, call it up and you can expect to find a schematic, an "exploded view," showing all the parts and their numbers. You can check out the prices, fill out your order and, usually quite quickly, the needed parts will be delivered to your door.
Not so fast. I decided I'd look into replacing the control panel and, while I was at it, the other spare parts that I need. The damned thing is only seven years old, why throw it out? Then I found out why.
Of all the parts listed in those schematic diagrams they're all no longer available except for that cursed control panel and it's over $500 plus tax plus shipping plus installation and there's only just two of them left. I even called the manufacturer only to be told that they haven't had parts for that model for a number of years and I should contact the spare parts suppliers.
So, here's the deal. My dilemma is whether I spring for the replacement control panel which with taxes, shipping and installation will probably set me back upwards of $800 after which I'll be left with a mainly functioning gas range but knowing that if that panel also fails I'll have to buy a new range or do I just bite the bullet, write the damned thing off, and replace it now?
That's the dilemma but it's not my pet peeve. What really gets under my skin is that there's no requirement on the manufacturer to ensure a ready supply of spares for at least ten years. Letting them off the hook is tantamount to inviting them to engineer premature obsolescence in their products. Why should they make something that's good for ten or fifteen years if they can flog products that most buyers will have to replace starting after just five years?
This brings to mind a study by Germany's Federal Environment Agency
last March that found that the rate of premature failure of white goods (appliances) had increased significantly but found no smoking gun pointing to "built-in obsolescence." Guess what? I know what the Germans overlooked. A failure of the manufacturers to maintain an appropriate inventory of spare parts for a reasonable period. There's your "planned obsolescence" staring you right in the face.
I would dearly like to keep my gas range for another 10-years. Once you get past 60 you appreciate things like that. But I can't. So I'm stuck having to buy another appliance and, quite possibly, another after that if I'm again unlucky. And for what? Because we let these manufacturers off the hook.