Psychology, Science, Society, Tech

Things Fall Apart…

Warranty Void if Seal Broken

Warranty Void if Seal Broken (Photo credit: eirikso)

Or at least stop working, or didn’t work when you got them, or just won’t cooperate.  But for some reason many people refuse to accept this simple fact of life.

I’ve had three jobs where I’ve had to deal with people who could not accept that what they’d bought had rebelled against them, as they saw it.  If something broke down while in warranty no problem, we’d replace it, fine.  But if it was out of warranty it sometimes became, er, difficult.  You hear “I’ve only had the computer three years, it shouldn’t have stopped working”, “I’ve only had the motorhome three years, it shouldn’t have stopped working”, “I’ve only had the windows eleven years, the seal shouldn’t have stopped working.”  You get the gist.

Yes, some things are designed to last a long time, houses, gravestones, while other things wear out but these days more and more people just won’t accept that and think that it’s unreasonable, the level of annoyance often increases with the amount of money they have. Much of the time people who know nothing about the inner workings of the item will tell you “I know it shouldn’t fail this quickly.”

Many things have a limited lifespan, but much of the time the thing’s worn out because people don’t look after things like locks and engines.  It used to be accepted that some things needed cleaning, oiling or looking after so they’d last for years but, possibly because of our throw-away society combined with so many gadgets which are hermetically sealed up to stop people tampering people are either losing the skills to do it or just feel they shouldn’t have to, even when presented with a big sticker saying “care and maintenance instructions.”   Some people just never read the er, flipping manual.

Then there’s the next difficulty which is when people expect to get a shiny brand-new warranty with the item that’s been replaced under warranty without grasping the idea that doing that could lead to the item being replaced free-of-charge from now until eternity.  “But it’s a new part,” they cry “and you’re telling me it’ll only have a three-month warranty, that’s stupid, I want to talk to your manager!”   Sigh.

I don’t know if it’s the increasing influence of the so-called “blame culture” where accidents don’t just happen, things don’t just break there has to be a reason, has to be someone to blame, someone to carry the cost for you.  There’s probably a hint of the sunk-cost fallacy where you don’t want to let go of something old, or pay more to keep it going because of what you’ve already invested in it.  But really people have to accept that in a universe which tends towards a chaotic equilibrium things decay, wear out, get clogged up with search toolbars and eventually die.