Monday, April 28, 2008

Made in China Blues Rant

The business end of a pressure washer in action. I don't think that this is an electric, Made-in-China, budget electric pressure washer. Why? Because it seems to be working.

Talking to the two fellows working on my new cedar deck the other day, one thing we all agreed on was that made in China 'bargain' tools are junk. That's been our experience. And yet, it's sometimes hard to resist the eye popping low prices, and at other times it is hard to find something not made in China.

With the old deck ripped out, I noticed just how scummy the side of the house was, and also, with the price of red cedar these days, I determined to take great care of the new deck. So I decided to get a power washer.

The options were either a serious gas powered machine, or an electric cheap thing. Against my own better judgment, I went for the cheap thing. I can pretty much guarantee that if I wanted to send a box that size to China, it would cost way, way more than the price of this machine. So shipping, and no doubt a hefty store mark-up, profit for the manufacturer and likely one or two middlemen, and still it sells for just over $100? To good to be true, huh? Gosh, I bet the guys and gals working in the factory putting these things together are living high off the hog.

I also picked up a Made-in-China new hose, one the label claimed to be 'anti-kinking.'

Foolish me.

First off, the hose does not work with the machine. How is it possible to make a hose that does not work? Skill is involved there. Second, never have I seen a hose kink up like this thing! And it is a really heavy hose, so the multiple kinks are harder than usual to de-kink. Third, the impossibly cheap pressure washer works for about twenty minutes, and then... nothing. Totally dead. Not even a low hum from the motor. Zero. Could that be why the store where I bought this piece of trash stressed (and even handed me a special flier) that they offer only a ten day return policy on these things? I guess they pretty much know just how great these machines are!

It was a pain packing all this junk back up-- especially that hundred foot kinking hose was a treat. But happily the store was okay with accepting it all back for a refund. From what the clerk said, they are used to these pressure washers coming back.

Later, checking some web forums, it sounds like basically a coin toss whether these super cheap pressure washers work for a while. It's really kind of distressing to think all all that energy and all those resources going into this trash that is basically... well, trash. Like the landfills aren't full enough?

Thinking about that, it occurred to me there is a connection with my own work. Go to any garden shop or home decor store, and see all the wind chimes and knick-knacks. All made in China, and all soon destined for the local landfill. The only guarantee on this stuff is that it will look shabby in no time at all, and likely fall apart before one season has passed. But oh so cheap! What a deal.

So my work is not exactly cheap, because I always choose the best materials I can find, irregardless of price, and because I take all the time that's needed, and care deeply about the quality. High quality or no quality, that's my motto. Besides, I insist on earning more than $5 a day. My tools probably use more than that in electricity.

And then there is the soul of the thing. Seeing the displays of generic junk, I shudder at the coldness of it all. Each set of whatever is identical. No soul. Not a single one of my works is the same as any other, and that's some of my soul going into each piece. If you are the least bit sensitive, I believe you can learn something about me from whatever you buy. All you can learn about the person who made the generic stuff is that they must have one heck of an unhappy life. How would you like to live on an assembly line, dipping low quality metal into toxic chemicals for few pennies?

So after yet another rotten Made-in-China tool experience, I vow to redouble my efforts to buy North American, and avoid at all cost this disappointing junk. I've wasted far too much time packing it all back up, and standing in the returns line-up. Enough.

1 comment:

  1. "Planned Obsolescense" especially bothers me! :( You have to watch out for that too, no matter where an item is made, although a disproportionate number of those items do seem to come from China. It's really sad that mending and repairing are out of fashion now- it's usually cheaper to throw things away and buy replacements. But at what long-term cost?

    Thankfully, there ARE people who appreciate quality workmanship. :)