Adulthood does bring a lot of change into people. Either you mellow out and start appreciating life a bit more or you become ornery and be the mean bastard yelling at kids to get off the lawn. I think I’m more of the latter. Given my temperament, I was hoping that I’d be the former and start chilling out. Too bad, I simply just find more bones to pick every passing year.

I’ve ranted about planned obsolescence before and I hate it. Thanks to Moore’s Law, the rapid development of tech does render electronics obsolete quite quickly. I hate how everything needs to be “smart” these and that you’d just find microchips in everything these days. The drawback there is that everything is due for an update. While I am a lover of technology, and with that, I should be more accepting of the rapid pace of updates, for some things, I still value craftsmanship and longevity. I love simple machines that last for eons.

I grew up in a family with meager resources and that made me appreciate how things just have to last a while. That included every purchase that our folks had to make from school supplies to appliances. To some extent, we were quite lucky that some things lasted us for a long time.

We had a small Nivico (now JVC) black and white TV that I remember we got in the very early 1980s which was functional up until I was entering college. It pretty much served the purpose of the “pangharabas” TV, first serving as the main tube and then taking its place in our kitchen. As with many Filipino households, its the kitchen where our family congregated more. And boy, what a beating that TV took.

Our grandmother punished it with her marathons that start with the morning talk show, the noontime variety show, up until the siesta soap operas. Our mother scolded everyone (including our grandmother) to let the TV cool down for a while, after which we resumed TV with the afternoon cartoons which extended to the evening news up until our mother took over with her primetime soaps. It was almost always on.

Our old White Westinghouse refrigerator came from the same breed of appliances. That fridge was an ice machine even helping our mom augment our income selling ice and ice candy during the hot months all the while crammed with food and whatnot for a household of six. It served us a good 18 years before our mother decided to replace it due to rusting and taking too much juice to run.

Now, you won’t find that breed of work beasts anymore. Sure new appliances are stylish, fast, and green but they’re only good for a good couple or so years before things start to break down. Appliances are not considered investments or heirlooms these days. They’re just about as disposable as toilet paper.

The wife and I have started to pick out appliances for our big move. Not wanting to just wantonly gamble away our hard-earned money in impulse buys, we pored over pages and pages of forums about which brands in the Philippines are reliable. Too bad that exercise couldn’t give a definitive answer as every brand would have someone speaking against it due to some horrid experience about breakdowns, crappy servicing, unavailable parts, ambiguous warranty claims and incompetent repairmen.

As a consumer, you’re then forced to strike a compromise of not just between buck per bang (features vs. price) but among projected use and time in service as well. For example, given our projected use for the next 3 to 5 years, we were taking a look at refrigerators and were looking at 14-16 cu. ft. sizes preferably with either inverter or adaptive defrost (for lower electricity consumption) which cost at a range of Php 30K to 45K.

We considered several brands. Samsung and LG are popular these days and are competing head-to-head in terms of price and features. Samsung, perhaps being the most popular brand these days, have the most number of complaints like issues with its reliability (breaking down after just two years), shoddy warranty (that 10 year warranty only covers the compressor but with all the newfangled electronics even in refrigerators these days, a fault in say, the main board would force you to just buy a new one). LG has its fair share but since LG has a factory in the Philippines, parts are readily available. Electrolux (the new brand of White Westinghouse) stands at a price point higher than the Koreans. Forums say that they’re quite efficient but parts for servicing aren’t readily available. American brands like Whirlpool are priced a tad higher than Electrolux and seem to have the least amount of complaints in the forums.

We chanced upon a 16 cu. ft. inverter-type LG available on sale of just about Php 27K which was below our projected budget. It fits our criteria for use. Prior to that point, we were leaning more towards Whirlpool due to its reputation with Electrolux a close second. What drove us to heavily consider the LG was the price. At Php 27K, we wagered that if the thing breaks down after two years (its standard all-parts and service warranty), we wouldn’t feel so bad compared (meaning the depreciation) to say if we spent Php 40K on it. The Whirlpool model we were eyeing costs Php45K. Given appliances are only expected to last 5 years these days and that whenever our family gets larger, it would be just about time to replace it with a bigger one. We eventually got the LG. Now, we’re just hoping that we could get some decent usage out of that thing.

I hope someone could point me to a study or some stat or math or economic model that could help smart consumers decide the factors and the weight they should have when making household purchases because even with our humble attempt at model thinking, the whole processes does expose you to a whole lot of buyer’s anxiety and stress.

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