What is the MOST money you’ll pay for the absolute LEAST quality?

Sunday, June 15th, 2008 at 6:24 am | 527 views | trackback url

A serious question: “What is the absolute MOST you’re willing to pay for the absolute LEAST quality”?

95% of the time, I fill up my gas tank at the same gas station with the same amount of gas at regular intervals. My driving patterns are fairly static and generally border my commute routes to/from work and to/from friend’s houses or soirĂ©es.

The gas prices have risen $1.00 in the last 2 months (a 33% increase, to $4.43/gallon). I normally get about 20-25mpg out of my truck’s engine on my short commutes and I make sure to put fuel-injector cleaner and other cleansers in the right fluids to make sure things remain clean and efficiently firing.

The interesting sidebar here is that diesel fuel which is typically a LOT cheaper than normal fuel, is now 30% higher than regular gas. Diesel gas here is over $5.10/gallon. Why? It is cheaper to produce, it is used much less than normal fuels and produces higher mileage than normal fuel.

Diesel fuel is more expensive because the energy industry doesn’t WANT you to switch to a diesel engine, easing your own migration to bio-diesel fuels when they become viable. They want you to continue to burn fuel at an ever-increasing rate, so they can pile the cash higher and deeper in their coffers. They figure they’re losing cash to people switching to diesel engines, so they dramatically increase the cost of diesel fuels as a result. Either people will switch back to “normal” engines, or they’ll make their profit on the increased pricing of diesel fuels.


Once gas went over $4.00 (it is now $4.43/gallon at my local gas station), I noticed a consistent, regular drop in my miles-per-gallon. I’m getting 8-10 mpg less per-gallon than I was before, presumably with the same gas and the same exact routes, mileage and driving patterns.

Something changed in the actual formulation of the gas that I regularly buy that decreased my mileage that dropped its efficiency by 40%. My truck has been through proper, thorough tuneups at every interval and continues to run at top-notch, except this…

I asked the gas attendant one day and they said they’ve been required to purchase a gasoline-ethanol blend of fuels now because of the rising cost of petroleum. Not only does ethanol in gas neutralize the effects of fuel-injector cleaners and gas additives, but it dramatically decreases mileage by evaporating up to 40% of its weight in water.

So because the gas stations need to continue to make increasing profits, they charge more for gas, and are buying cheaper, sub-par fuels, which delivers LESS miles-per-gallon than before. How exactly is this helping the problem? We’re actually using MORE gas than before, to travel the same distances.

There are some other ways to help increase gas mileage in your vehicle, to try to compensate the highway robbery the energy industry is pushing down on us.

As someone who drives a fairly large Chevy Avalanche Sports Utility Truck (SUT), I am often asked how I can choose to “destroy the environment” so much with my vehicle. Not only did my truck come from California where the fuel standards are much stricter than Connecticut, but my truck runs VERY efficiently, and I take a lot of precautions to ensure that I’m not abusing the environment with it. See my Fuel Efficiency Tips page for dozens of tips on how I accomplish great fuel economy with this vehicle.

But this problem is not exclusive to fuels… it is happening all over the world in dozens of industries. The recent earthquake in China resulted in hundreds of devastated buildings which were built out of concrete that was sub-par. You could literally crumble the concrete in your hands like sand. The building contractors cut corners to make more money by building them out of inferior materials. These inferior materials cost thousands of lives.

Technology products are being designed with “planned obsolescence” as well. I was recently loaned a Bluetrek ST1 stereo headset from a friend to try out. Page 4 of the instruction manual for this headset specifically says:

To maximize battery lifetime, it is recommended that you charge your headset to full capacity only when the battery is low, as it has a lifetime of about 500 charging cycles.

It goes on to say:

Do not let the battery charger remain plugged in the headset more than 24h

It doesn’t state why you shouldn’t let it remain plugged in, just that you shouldn’t. Perhaps this reduces the charging lifespan of the headset too? Who knows!

For a heavy headset user like myself, this headset would last roughly 6 months. A $75.00 product should last a LOT longer than that.

I have a Samsung WEP410 headset that I’ve used VERY heavily for a couple of years and it still has amazing battery life. It has been charged well over 1,000 times and is still going strong. I’ve recently replaced that with a Aliph Jawbone II headset to test out some advanced noise cancelling, but the Samsung is still my backup headset when I need it in a pinch.

The battery in the Samsung headset is probably the size of one knuckle of my pinky finger, while the battery in the Bluetrek is about the size of a cigarette lighter. How can such a large battery have such horrible recharge lifetime?

Planned obsolescence.

I had a printer that I purchased several years ago, an HP 2510 “AIO” (All-In-One”) printer, scanner, fax machine, card-reader, etc. It had some platen problems (as most scanners eventually do), and I called tech-support for their help and assistance.

The non-English speaking technical support representative for HP actually suggested that it would be cheaper if I just throw the printer away and bought a new one, instead of sending it back to HP for repair or replacement. A $300 printer with a manufacturer’s defect, still within the warranted period.

What is it with these companies who produce absolute garbage products, charge a premium for them, and over time degrade their quality even more, while still increasing the price they charge for them?

Products should be getting better and cheaper, not worse and more expensive. Hardware should not “expire” like this, in such a short amount of time. Would you accept a blender or microwave that just “expired” after 6 months of use? I surely wouldn’t. Why do we accept it with technology and fuels?

Vote with your wallet:

Stay away from HP products.

Stay away from Bluetrek products.

Reduce your reliance on fossil fuels.

Keep your hard-earned money and reserve it for vendors and companies who actually produce quality and price it accordingly.

Last Modified: Wednesday, April 6th, 2011 @ 13:44

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