General Question

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

What items are just not made as well today as they were in the past?

Asked by Pied_Pfeffer (22469 points ) August 9th, 2012

The grandparents had a sofa bed that my mother still has, making it ~60 years old. Despite the amount of use, the mattress is still in good condition and very comfortable. I have yet to find a sofa bed for sale that doesn’t have a flimsy mattress.

There must be other items that fall into this category. What are they?

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22 Answers

mattbrowne's avatar

Wrist watches. Mine last about 6 years. When they break I use the one made in 1920. It’s not as accurate, but good enough till I get a new one.

whiteliondreams's avatar

Believe it or not, Board Games. My partner has a Monopoly board game, complete, and looks new. It’s over 14 years old.

geeky_mama's avatar

I believe this is called planned obsolescence or engineered obsolescence.

In our house we’ve observed it with:
– refrigerators
– TVs
– computers
– fans
– small consumer electronics (like curling irons & hair dryers)

We have a 1950s refrigerator in our basement that, while it is surely not energy efficient, has outlived 3 other 1990s and newer fridges that died in under a decade.
Our old 1980s TVs sure do work better and last longer than those new flat screen TVs, too.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@geeky_mama Thank you for the terminology and link. ‘Tis a shame that product production has taken this route. While it is understandable if new technology or greener products come along. To create products with a limited life in order to boost additional sales down the road just seems unethical to me.

Mariah's avatar

In terms of sturdiness, video game consoles. My 13 year old Nintendo 64 is a tank – never had a problem that blowing on it couldn’t solve. None of that red ring of death bullshit.

Linda_Owl's avatar

Everything ?

tedibear's avatar

Toasters. My parents got a toaster in 1950 and that thing didn’t have trouble until 2001. And the trouble was that you had to push the toast down a little bit harder than before. We bought a toaster late last year and it’s already starting to be temperamental about the color of our toast. I paid $65 for that darn thing and I want consistent toast!

YARNLADY's avatar

Children’s toys

Symbeline's avatar

I’d have to chime in with televisions and refrigerators, respectively. although this is based on personal experience…my fridge is this ancient Admiral thing, don’t know the year exactly, (any way to find out perhaps?) but I’m betting it’s from the eighties, due to its design. I bought it used from an elderly woman about ten years ago, and she said that while she’s had it for a while, it worked just fine. It’s yellow, although it may have been white at one point…lol. But indeed, the thing works juuust fine. It could actually be a bit colder, but overall I’m satisfied with it. Since I’ve yet to see the need to replace it, I can’t say if newer fridges are better.

I also just bought a new TV, so again, since it’s brand new, can’t say much about it…I mean, it’s really pretty with a damn good image, obviously, better quality than older sets. But how long shall it last…? I had a small Lloyd’s set, had it for years…thing was indestructible, and it followed me for years. One of those old TV’s with knobs for changing the channel. You couldn’t touch the color buttons on the bottom; it was SO sensitive. I got the hang of it eventually…but it was a good TV. Good picture, and it just wouldn’t die. The only reason I don’t have it anymore is because water got spilled right on and some fell inside the TV. Was ruined after that. But otherwise, I wonder if it would still work today. Electronics as a whole seemed a lot sturdier back in the day…most of mine are old. Telephone, (doesn’t even have a display window) alarm clock, microwave, all complete with faux wood finish haha. They all work fine, yet I’m always hearing people at work going on about how they keep needing to buy new electronics all the time.

JLeslie's avatar

Clothing. To be more specific, there is more junk clothing, made poorly with thin crappy material out there now. If you go to the high end designers it is still very good quality, but moderate clothes all too often are terrible. And, rayon used so much, ugh, I think that is such a horrible fabric. A friend just two days ago said how they love rayon ajd I cannot for the life of me understand it.

Oh, the last toaster oven I bought was much lower quality than ones I have owned in the past and doesn’t work as well.

Instead of listing more items I am just going to agree with @Linda_Owl and say everything.

TheIntern55's avatar

Something I’m suprised nobody has mentioned is computers. My parents bought their first computer in 1999. I wrote my first book report on that computer (in first grade), my dad wrote his resume on it that got him his job, my brother wrote his college application on it-all documents that are still on there. The computer has also been through a move, 2 hurricanes, and an accidental baseball to its monitor, (long story) and yet it still works. In 2004, my dad gave my mom a laptop for Christmas. Last year, it was finally defunct forever. And yet that desktop marches on. I like laptops and how portable they can be, but nothing beats a good, sturdy desktops with an endless power supply and internet and printer access without having to fiddle with wi-fi and the connection and all that crap. I love my laptop, but I bought it in November and it already got a dent in it. Oh well.

cookieman's avatar

Furniture. Unless you shop at a high-end, boutique-style furniture shop, furniture (particularly wood items) aren’t made as well. Tongue & groove construction has been replaced by plastic fasteners. Solid wood throughout is now maybe wood doors and laminated composite wood everywhere else.

Families used to pass down nice pieces of furniture from generation to generation. Even if the finish had faded, you could sand and refinish it – because it was solid wood. Good luck trying that with any of the crap at Jordan’s Furniture, Bernie & Phil’s, or IKEA.

josie's avatar

Public school graduates

philosopher's avatar

Just about everything and most certainly appliances like dishwashers, ovens and refrigerators.
Jeans and clothing are No longer stitched well.

Judi's avatar

@GeekyMama has it right. Watch thestoryofstuff.com to understand how our current economy is dependent on poor quality. There is even a science to how long different items have to last to insure that people will buy new when they break down. It sucks.

wundayatta's avatar

You can still get well-made stuff. It’s just expensive.

Response moderated (Spam)
Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@wundayatta True. I guess that rules out the ONLINE STORE stuff. :)

wundayatta's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer It’s so hard to tell how well made something is if you can’t touch it. I think you just have to be prepared to send it back if it isn’t what you are expecting.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@wundayatta That’s another very true statement. This is why I don’t buy items online unless I know the quality from experience or it just isn’t important or it has a refund policy. And aww, the ONLINE STORE post got removed for spamming. Too bad…it was ideal for this thread.

RocketGuy's avatar

My low tech top-loading Whirlpool, with heavy duty switches and relays, went 13 years without any problems. I got an energy efficient front-loading Whirlpool, with intricate electronics. It went maybe 4 years before it started giving me problems. The connections are too delicate, and not designed for the slightly moist environment of its interior.

geeky_mama's avatar

@RocketGuy – compared to my friends and in-laws with top-load high-efficiency clothes washers you got lucky getting 4 years out of yours! I’ve heard horror stories of washers that lasted less than 2 years, or that one good slam of the door (doors that really should be closed gently with one finger) broke it..

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