Tuesday, July 24, 2012

It is cheaper to repair than replace?

At one time the statement "It is cheaper to repair than replace" was true about almost everything.Not so anymore. Why is that?

Prior to the 1980's we repaired almost everything. There wasn't a large community that did not have a radio and television repair shop. I remember taking things to be repaired and walking around looking at all the tubs and even a few solid state boards. I even dug a couple trenches for the satellite lines, for the dishes, the really big ones.

Some time in the late 70's or early 80's there was a paradigm shift. It was slow to take over and actually started much earlier. People stopped going to the shoe repair man. Most shoes were no longer made to last. The tops wore out way before the bottoms. The components of electronics cost more than the product itself. If your television went out you bought another without any thought of having it repaired.

Slowly the shoe repair shops, the watch and clock repair shops, and yes the radio and television repair shops started closing. These small business owners are all but extinct. Recently I had a window air condition unit go out. I reacted the way my grandfather would have. I started calling repair shops. I left a message on every answering machine asking if they worked on window units. I called nine shops. Only one called me back. I explained and asked if he would work on a window unit. He said he would if I would bring it to his shop. I told him that was what I expected.

When I unloaded the unit, we started talking. He said that he didn't see very many window units but was willing to try. He checked out the unit and found that the control panel had gone out, so he pulled out a catalog and looked for the the part and found that it would cost $275 to repair. When he told me that, I asked what the most expensive part was and how much it cost. He looked up the compressor and it also was around $300. The unit only cost about $298. We rigged it to work and it works great.

The generally accepted principle is when the cost of repair is 50% of the cost to replace, you would replace. Keeping that in mind when the cost of repair is 90% of the cost to replace there is no reason to even take repair into consideration. This is a truly sad state of affairs.

Now my question is, how does a single part cost as much as the whole? Answer: It isn't possible. That tells me that the culture has had such a violent change that no companies are producing aftermarket parts. This is an intentional move to push people to more consumerism. Diminishing our ability to be frugal and encouraging credit use. Think about what you do and remember to "Keep It Rural".