I have a Whirlpool dishwasher that’s about 12 years old. The racks that hold the dishes are corroded and broken. The jagged edges are a hazard to users of the machine. The dishwasher works well: the only problem is the racks. I called Whirlpool who referred me to an authorized distributor who quoted me a price of $377 for the three racks.
I can buy a brand new Whirlpool dishwasher today for $360, less than the price of the racks.
Given the age of the dishwasher, it makes economic sense for me to buy a new dishwasher rather than replace the racks. But the bigger picture is that if I do what is in my best economic interest, a usable dishwasher goes into the landfill, which is just not a good thing. This is not a rant against Whirlpool because the problem is everywhere. I needed a new rubber seal for my refrigerator door—about half the cost of a new refrigerator.
A fellow ran into the back side corner of my car at low speed a couple weeks ago. The repair bill (fortunately paid for by the other guy’s insurance) was over $3,500!
I have a wristwatch that my grandmother gave me at graduation. Just having this watch serviced (cleaned and oiled) costs more today than the watch cost new. These days watches, radios and televisions are much more reliable and don’t need as many repairs, but when the time comes for a repair, chances are that the repair is not economically feasible.
Growing up, my family was in the repair business. My father repaired watches and my uncle repaired radios and televisions. They learned from my grandfather, who had a sign in his store: “We fix everything but a broken heart.”
If we as a society are going to get a handle on our trash, we need to address the issue of the cost of repairs.