Power tools and parts, the good, the bad, the ugly

old drill

Power tools, they are great things that help us do things quicker, with less strain on our bodies. They have helped build America.

The Good

Due to companies sending their manufacturing overseas, the price of power tools has fallen across the board. What used to cost $400, can now be obtained for $200. This makes building that project or replacing that power tool much cheaper. What may have prevented one from starting a project due to the cost of the equipment, now has been greatly reduced. Due to competition and the reduced cost of manufacturing a tool, many companies offer 5 year or even lifetime warranties on the tool. Wow, now you can buy a tool and it will be good for life. If the tool can’t be repaired, the manufacturer simply sends you a new one. That is the good.

The Bad

If you purchased a tool that has only a one year warranty, there is a good chance that the repair parts for your tool are not available. Possibly, there is a law requiring manufacturers to provide repair parts for their products for so many years, but we are seeing power tools where the repair parts aren’t even available one year after purchase. Those parts that the manufacturers do provide aren’t cheap either. Even though the parts cost them pennies on the dollar, the retail price for these parts is higher than they need to be in many cases, thus allowing the manufacturer to stock less of these repair parts. Many of the manufacturers that we deal with, have either raised the price of their parts to an unreasonable price or they put multiple parts in very expensive kits. Those tools or parts that do not sell are quickly eliminated. We have heard that one of our manufacturers simply throws the unsold repair parts in a dumpster.

We have become a throw away society. When was the last time that you took your TV to a TV repair shop? How about that computer or cell phone? Did you attempt to get it fixed or did you simply remove the data and buy a new one? My guess is that you bought a new one.emmets fix it

I sell repair parts for a living. We are having to change our business model due to manufacturers hiking up their parts prices or simply not making them available.

Many people under the age of 40 simply do not know how to repair things, nor have the interest in doing so. I know that when I repair something, I have a feeling of accomplishment. I know that I probably saved money as well as kept whatever I repaired out of the landfill. A generation ago, products were designed to have their high wear parts easily accessible as well as repairable. Have you tried changing the light bulb in your car lately? A simple task like this isn’t even, well simple. The last car that I had, I had to remove the tire, the fender well cover, the light bulb cover, then I had to squeeze my hand into what was a very small and sharp space. It ended up being a 2 hour project. Cars are built in sections, then dropped down over the frame, then the body parts are added, holding hostage any repair part areas. No wonder I was quoted $2,200 to simply replace timing cover gaskets on my 17 year old BMW. The cost of the parts was less than $50, but the labor was very high, more than the price to replace the entire engine!

The Ugly

What we are not going to see in the future are repair shops for ANY products. We are in a microwave society. Everything is instantaneous. If you are in a digital job, you know that you can create and send content very quickly. We have the tools to create, design and launch a website in less than a day, one that will reach the entire world without even licking a stamp. A stamp? What is that?

What is sad, is that people that have great troubleshooting skills like I have, will no longer be needed. We have AI (artificial intelligence) that will be able to take all the knowledge of millions of people in it’s database, that is able to troubleshoot based upon everyone’s voluntary input into it’s database brain that will eventually replace you, me and others thought process. Just because we can doesn’t mean that we should. Just because we can send all of our production overseas to reduce costs doesn’t mean we should. We are eliminating jobs for our country, making products cheaper so that we don’t have to repair them. Instead of a tool lasting a couple of generations, we are lucky that it will last a couple of years. With lifetime warranties on power tools, this has to tell you about the actual cost to the manufacturer if they are able to continue to replace your power tool each time it breaks.

The next time you purchase a tool or appliance and you are pleasantly relieved at the low price of it, think of these things:

  • Where was this made? Are their wages comparable to what I earn?
  • Is that manufacturing plant down the street still humming along or is it a vacant building with broken windows?
  • How much do I think the product costs the manufacturer, to be able to offer a lifetime warranty?
  • How long do I expect to own this? Will I get to pass it down to my children?

We have traded low cost of a product for quality and the ability to have the item serve us well over the years. It bears contemplating if nothing else.

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