This may seem like a small matter to get peeved about, but if I’m right, this will eventually bring down civilization as we now know it. The problem: faulty OFF/ON switches on an endless variety of devices. These are the switches on equipment like vacuum cleaners, air compressors, shredders, lights, fans and electric lawn mowers. Over the last few years, I have had the switches fail on every one of these implements and on a couple they have failed on the replacement as well.


Think about it. If you were producing these items and decided to try to maximize your revenue by minimizing the lifespan of a product, what better way to do it. You put out a product of average quality, but then put in a cheap 10-cent OFF/ON switch that has a lifespan of maybe 30 uses. That way when consumers are looking to buy, you present them with a product that looks sturdy and functional. As a buyer you don’t pay any attention to what type of switch a device has, you just figure something so simple should be the last thing to break. So you take the equipment home, use it a few dozen times, the warranty expires, the receipts get lost, and BINGO!—nothing happens when you hit ON button (the OFF function may work, but what good does that do you?).

So maybe you decide you’re not going to scrap something with value just because the switch no longer works (there are lots of ON/OFF switches available on the Internet). But then you look at what it would take to replace the switch. Basically, you discover you will have to dismantle (and by dismantle, I mean destroy) the entire piece of equipment to get at the switch. Since the piece of equipment usually costs around one hundred dollars, do you order a new switch and try to repair it—no way! You do what 99% of all people do and trash it and buy a new one.

And so every year or two, you end up buying a new piece of equipment just because the cheap switch broke. And I believe the switches break because the company who built it designed it to break.

What can you do about this? Well this blog is called “Pet Peeves,” not “Pet Solutions.” But here are a few suggestions:

  • When you buy something, make sure you get the best one out there. Companies that promote sales based on quality instead of price are so much more reliable and honest than profit-above-all-else companies.
  • Know that when you buy the best, you may spend more but the item will probably last longer than 10 of the cheaper brand. (For years I bought a new vacuum cleaner every year at approximately $150 a pop. Then I decided to buy a premium vacuum for $900. It still works and I can’t tell you how old it is because my memory no longer goes back that far. Let’s just say I saved enough money over the years to buy the same “scotch and cigars” the rich people enjoy). PS—The vacuums that had the switches go out were cheap units I bought to use on my car.
  • Know that when you buy the best, it not only has a long life, it is a pleasure to use because it is a quality unit.
  • Buying American still means something as long as you look for quality.
  • And finally, let people know that you’re not going to stand for rip-offs any more. Stand your ground and support those businesses who provide the very best product that can be made—they are still out there.

It’s a shame we’ve allowed ourselves to become the target of scammers and cheats—companies with the same principles as the congressmen they have bought and paid for.

Pet Peeve: Faulty Switches

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