The Growing Rebellion Against Costly, Low-Quality, Overly-Complex Technology

Many consumers have yet to grasp how vulnerable they are to increasingly routine digital-component failures.


One of the greatest myths about “free markets” is that enterprises create products and services to meet the needs of consumers. That sounds nice but that’s not what happens in monopoly-cartel dominated economies like ours. In monopoly-cartel dominated economies like ours, what actually happens is the monopoly / cartel (i.e. a handful of quasi-monopolies that completely dominate their sector) limit their offerings to the most profitable products and services and force customers to buy them by making it impossible to find better-value options.

Monopoly-cartel dominated economies like ours are rife with intentionally shoddy quality products and services because durability is anathema to ever-higher profits. By designing products and services to fail–planned obsolescence–or become obsolescent by other means–your product is no longer supported–monopolies / cartels force consumers to constantly replace failed or timed-out products.

The other mechanism favored by monopolies / cartels is immiseration: make the product or service so miserable to use that the disgusted consumer is forced to upgrade to minimize their suffering. This is how monopolies / cartels manipulate the innocent-sounding “consumer choice:” you have a choice between suffering with low-quality products and services, or somewhat less suffering by paying more.

If you want products and services that actually work and are durable, prepare to pay 10X more. If you want kitchen appliances that function longer than a few years, no problem, just pony up $35,000. (A real-world number, believe me.)

In other words, durability and quality service are now reserved for the top 5%. Everyone else has the simulated choice between “unbearably low quality” or “bearably poor quality.”

Of course monopolies / cartels have excuses and justifications for their highly profitable designed-to-fail products and services. One excuse is “garsh, everything is so complex now that some component somewhere fails, and we’re helpless to stop it.” In other words, complexity is the problem, not the absence of quality control.

The Lifespan of Large Appliances Is Shrinking Appliance technicians blame a push toward computerization and an increase in the quantity of components inside a machine. (

The apologists are half-right: complexity is a reliable source of failure. That brings up the monopolies / cartels’ second excuse: “we’re just meeting customer demands for more conveniences.”

But the monopolies / cartels left out the other half of consumer demands: for durability, affordability and quality. They also left out the fact that many consumers are actually demanding less complexity and less technology, demands that are ignored because reducing technological complexity and thereby increasing durability would be a disaster for the bottom line: simple, durable goods would crash profits.

Beneath the highly profitable churn of “conveniences,” consumers are fed up and demanding simple, durable products, not the overly complex designed-to-fail rubbish being sold by monopolies / cartels. Consider the consumer statements in

‘My Toaster Oven Does Not Need To Be ‘Smart’
, for example:

“Tell me, why would anyone really want a smart fridge or toaster? I don’t want the new, shiny thing. I want something that works and lasts a long time.”


“Paying good money for a product that doesn’t do the thing it says on the box until you install their BS app on your phone. This makes me want to start a fight.”

Many consumers have yet to grasp how vulnerable they are to increasingly routine digital-component failures. Today’s vehicles are all one component failure away from being inaccessible (so sorry, you can’t get into your car) and / or unstartable (please have your vehicle towed to an authorized dealership for an incredibly costly diagnostic of why your vehicle won’t start.)

I’ve recounted in previous posts my own experience in replacing a clothes dryer digital controller (“motherboard”) that cost roughly half as much as a new dryer, and required extraordinary efforts to install, such that the labor charge would have doubled the controller cost, effectively equaling the cost of a new dryer.

Making repairs impossible or stupidly costly is all part of the immiseration by design, of course. The $200 controller board–available only from the authorized supplier, of course–contained a few dollars of commodity chips and circuit boards encased in a convoluted plastic extrusion worth a few more dollars. If a 10X markup annoys you, too bad, there are no other sources for the controller, which is of course not a commodity: it only functions in a specific brand and model.

The rebellion against needlessly costly, complex, designed-to-fail products and services is brewing. In a truly open “free market” stripped of monopolies and cartels, products and services that were simple, durable and largely (or completely) analog would enter the market to serve the growing number of consumers who’ve had enough of overly complex, overly costly, designed-to-fail products. But that isn’t going to happen in economies dominated by monopolies / cartels such as ours.

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