Why there's no repair industry - Router Forums
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post #1 of 31 (permalink) Old 01-05-2009, 12:44 AM Thread Starter
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Default Why there's no repair industry

Is it any wonder that there is no longer the once thriving consumer electronics repair industry, here in West Australia you can buy a Samsung 6 head stereo Hi-Fi VHS recorder combined with a DVD player for $A85.00. Assuming that they were available, a video head drum would cost more than this on it's own! In 1982, I was charging $180.00 to replace heads in a 2 head machine and was considered very competitive.
I know this situation exists around the world, except perhaps places like India where it may even be possible to buy Beta machines!

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post #2 of 31 (permalink) Old 01-05-2009, 07:51 AM
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Funny you mention this...our kitchen oven was not heating up very well. It would take 30 minutes to get up to temp and you could hear the burner relighting constantly. My first thought was "great, now we need a new stove." Then I though about it for a bit and remembered how simple the gas oven system is.

I wound up swapping the ignitor from the broiler to the over burner and it worked perfectly. Here's where I start feeling a bit bad....I called the local parts shop and they wanted $75 for the ignitor. I ordered it online for $40 total. I like to try to support my local guys whenever possible but should I pay twice as much for the part?

When I grew up, we did everything (within reason) ourselves so that has stuck with me today. Like you said though, they make some parts so expensive or the items themselves are so cheap now that repairing things just doens't make sense.
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post #3 of 31 (permalink) Old 01-05-2009, 09:00 AM
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Harry -

I hear ya. Generally being cheap I try to fix things before replacing them. But sometimes it just isn't worth it. Other times it saves big bucks. The most recent problem was a Hoover Windtunel vacuum. It was an early model and instead of belt driven impellers, it had a second little AC induction motor. Recently the impellers stopped turning. I thought the problem was a repeat of what happened after about 3 years of use. The impeller bearing had seized because they weren't sealed and had filled up with fuzz and stuff. Nope, this time the bearing were fine with freely spinning impellers. Rather te little motor was dead. Smelled faintly of burnt windings. Searching around for a motor, best price was about $75US before shipping. Replacing the vacuum with a new Windtunnel after Kohls (USA department store) advertised a sale plus using a 30% coupon they send to charge card holders, the new vac was about $80 before tax!

Then not a week later, my girlfriend's vacuum started having problems. She was complaining of no suction (stop right there with the dirty jokes). In her case it turned out to be a simple fix and all I had to do was disassemble the body of the vacuum to trace out the internal air flow path and find the clog. But as a preventative measure I also replaced the belt (showed checking) and cleaned up the hair that had wrapped itself around the shafts of the impeller. Total cost on this was about $7 and and maybe an hour of time. Now it runs like a new unit again! She was already fretting about the replacement cost!

Win some, loose some.

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post #4 of 31 (permalink) Old 01-05-2009, 11:55 AM
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Harry, there is still a thriving repair industry, it has just shifted its product lines. What you were doing with VCR's is now being done with computers but since the components are so simple to replace there are more shops and home users handling the jobs. You can only build so many VCR's until the price has to drop to almost nothing. Think of it like the calculators, $109 when they first came out, now they are included in boxes of cereal. (Ok, maybe not quite that bad) The trick is to figure out what the next winning product is and be on the cutting edge deployment.

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post #5 of 31 (permalink) Old 01-05-2009, 12:44 PM
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There's also an associated labor-cost problem. Not many people are willing to work for a rate that would result in a $20 repair - even if it took only 10 minutes to do the job.

- Ralph
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post #6 of 31 (permalink) Old 01-05-2009, 01:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike View Post
Harry, there is still a thriving repair industry, it has just shifted its product lines. What you were doing with VCR's is now being done with computers but since the components are so simple to replace there are more shops and home users handling the jobs. You can only build so many VCR's until the price has to drop to almost nothing. Think of it like the calculators, $109 when they first came out, now they are included in boxes of cereal. (Ok, maybe not quite that bad) The trick is to figure out what the next winning product is and be on the cutting edge deployment.
Most of the computer repair guys I've dealt with couldn't solder and had no idea how a transistor worked. All they did was swap boards and run diagnostic software, sorta like a trained monkey. Couldn't change out a capacitor if their life depended on it. I was just easier to replace an entire motherboard and charge more than learn to replace a $0.59 electrolytic...

The unfortunate side effect of the race to the bottom in consumer electronics pricing is they are not designed to be repaired. A different story for industrial equipment or large infrastructure communcations equipment or power distribution. But calculators, PCs and DVD players are disposable.
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post #7 of 31 (permalink) Old 01-05-2009, 01:56 PM
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HI Harry

WHy pay to fix it when you can replace it for much less

Once they make it for sell it's out of date,, elec. equipment anyway,,they just make so many parts and that's it, so to say you can't get them away..take a look at your neighbors trash can you will see tons of stuff that is still good but they want the new stuff just like the guy next door..I saw a show on the TV, a guy in Colorado was shipping old computer monitors over the pond because they are so nasty to deal with and little kids got paid money to take them down..now they can't drink the water in that little town...recycle is a very big business ..but it's a very nasty job now with all the computers.vcr, etc. I recall someone saying 100,000 computers per day go in the recycle trash can..not to say anything about all the cars and trucks... that's just the way it is today

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post #8 of 31 (permalink) Old 01-05-2009, 06:13 PM
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This is why I am so thankful Matt is an engineer. We both have the feeling of why bother getting a new one when we can spend a possible afternoon tearing this one apart!... and he does all the fixing- I just keep him from losing all the parts. He's also fixed his mom's doorbell, it was a total of 15 minutes and a 7 cent resistor....instead of replacing it for a much larger cost.

He enjoys it, but sometimes the replacement parts cost more than buying new. It's a rare thing to have happen, but it does.

We spent an afternoon looking for my sister's new blower motor for her furnace, it ranged in price online from a couple hundred dollars down to about a hundred, and we found a dealer ner her and they not only matched the lowest price online they beat it.
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post #9 of 31 (permalink) Old 01-05-2009, 07:40 PM
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Well, IMHO, it's called "laziness"!

I like to do my own repairs... as long as it's not over my head. But, I'm always willing to learn.

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post #10 of 31 (permalink) Old 01-05-2009, 11:19 PM Thread Starter
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Mike, Rob is spot on about computer repairers, I haven't come across a single one with electronics theory, it is simply a case of repair by elimination and past experience with similar symptoms.
Concerning VCR repairs, at less than around $100.00 labour per repair, it wouldn't be possible to remain in business when you consider what it costs to maintain business premisses, many types of insurances, advertising, wages, holiday pay, sick pay, long service leave and compulsory staff superannuation. Tube type TV's generally aren't worth repairing now because replacement cost is so low and flat screens, LCD and Plasma are, with few exceptions like computers, board replacement only because no circuit details or individual parts are available for the complex power supplies and PCB's.
To replace the power supply in some flat screen sets can produce bills of between $600.00 and $900.00!, 42" SD sets can be bought here for $1000.00 so, after perhaps five years, it isn't hard to see why the customer would opt for a new set.

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