Photo: Facebook/Natasha Ba
On the left, a wall of washing machines and stoves. On the right, a man is taking apart a vacuum cleaner, another a food processor.A little further away, an employee looking through a powerful magnifying glass pokes at a telephone with tweezers. In the background, a television set without its shell is broadcasting a reality show.
“La Bonne Combine” [The Good Deal] in Prilly, in the province of Vaud, is the appliance-repair Mecca of French-speaking Switzerland. “Look at this,” says Felice Suglia, bringing over a circuit board.
“This is the heart of a television set. The condensers are soldered right next to a heat sink connected to the transistors. The condensers are sensitive to heat. Why did Samsung put them here, even though there is room at the other end of the board?” the repairman asks.
This simple question is one of many about the reliability of appliances and electronic devices. More and more of them seem to be manufactured with planned obsolescence in mind — this is something that is often suspected, but rarely proven.
Electronics and appliance manufacturers are accused of deliberately shortening the lifespan of their products in order to force consumers to purchase new ones sooner. “It is impossible to be sure, but we often have strong suspicions,” says Christopher Inaebnit, who runs La Bonne Combine. “Look at the latest washing machines. Big-name companies set the ball bearings into the drum. Because new drums are so costly, that makes it almost impossible to replace the bearings when they’re worn out.”