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France battles so-called planned obsolescence of consumer appliances

by AirTalk®

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Customers look at Maytag and Whirlpool washers and dryers July 18, 2005 in New York City. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The joke goes if you want to know how long your new TV, phone or dishwasher will last, just check the warranty’s expiration.

Not so in France, where a new law mandates manufacturers to inform consumers how long their electronic appliances will last and how long repair parts will be made available. The decree aims to fight so-called planned obsolescence - when companies design strategies to limit the lifespan of appliances, so that consumers have to buy new ones.

Vendors say new product designs are not a conspiracy of planned obsolescence, simply advances in designs of parts such as tamper-proof screws and sealed-in batteries. Next year, the French government might up the ante by forcing manufacturers to repair products that break within two years of purchase.

What frustrations in time-sensitive design and manufacturing have you encountered?


Drew Prindle, Writer for news and review site focused on technology

James Moore, Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering

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