I have long believed and expressed that cars are not built like they used to. They are built of cheaper material; a small fender bender and a body shop makes money. The engines are not built to last 10 or 15 years; you’re lucky if you get through the 6 years you financed it for. Tonight I realized cars are not the only product that continues to increase in price, decrease in quality, and force us to submit to the shakedown from the repair and maintenance industry.
My step-daughter’s laptop had been acting strange, over-heating and such. It finally stopped booting up. This laptop is a mid-line model that she purchased a year and a half ago, new from Circuit City, with all of her money she had earned that summer. Circuit City is closed and the manufacturer’s warranty has run out. I know enough about computers, and have enough geektastic friends, that I wanted to examine the fan before recycling the computer and purchasing a new one.
Commences the disassembly of said laptop.
I thought it would be pretty straight forward. The fan is visible from underneath the laptop; I assumed it could not be THAT difficult to access. I removed approximately 80 screws, the battery, the hard drive, the wi-fi, the memory, the rom drive, the keyboard, the top cover, the audio board, part of the screen assembly, and finally the motherboard. All of this to reach the freaking fan. I encountered more delicate and easily destroyable parts than one should to reach an inexpensive part with plastic rotating blades.
When I unscrewed the first cover on the back (protecting the memory and wi-fi) I was created by several stickers that said “Replace with” and followed by model number of the part. I commented on the unease that gives someone about their machinery as soon as I saw them. An hour later, and a dozen “Replace with” stickers later, I had become very apprehensive about this entire undertaking.
At this point, her mother suggested maybe I should stop. I rationalized that if it was going to be tossed aside there was nothing to lose at that point. Then I started to think, and began to articulate my dissatisfaction with this operation.
Computers are increasingly expensive and have become a mandate in our lives. Yet they are built in such a way that we will have to expend a couple hundred at some point to diagnose a problem that may or may not be able to be fixed. If it can be fixed, we shell out a few hundred more on top of that. Or it can’t be fixed and we spend another thousand or so on a new computer. Sometimes the repairs are so expensive a new system is in the cards anyway. And these episodes of repair are far too early in the life of a computer. Doesn’t this sound like an experience you would have with a vehicle?
Capitalism forces even the most educated consumer to compromise. You can do without, but then you fall behind. You can go with what is now deemed a staple of modern living, and get screwed by the servicing of the product.
Hopefully I can get this thing up and running, but I know, even if I do, I’ll be at the local electronics store buying another one…probably before 2011…to spite my best frontier spirited efforts.