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Friday, June 08, 2007

I, Luddite


We had a repairman come in last week to fix our washing machine, and get this $400 for a new part. What part in a washing machine could be $400? The motherboard of course?! Why does our washing machine have a motherboard? What happened to the good ole days when washing machines were complicated collections of pulleys and levers? When the motor was the most expensive bit that could need replacement?

Sure, my clothes get clean with nominally less water. But it doesn't take less time. They don't get more clean. And it's obvious that the machine itself isn't any more durable. Where is the customer value in having a motherboard in a washing machine? It's certainly not in a lower priced machine or repairman. It doesn't cost less to run. Even with water restrictions, water remains almost free.

I mean just to be clear, we're talking about a machine that lets water in, spins it around for a little while, drains the water, repeat, spin, done. This is a machine for which the manual alternative is hitting clothes with a rock in the river and then laying them in the sun for a while. It's not brain science, or it wasn't about 50 years ago.

The irony to this post, this week, is that it's rained every time we've put clothes "in the sun for a while" to dry. This has forced us to use our equally complicated "condenser" dryer which probably has a motherboard too. Just one more ticking-time-bomb of a repair bill waiting to happen.

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