Monday, November 24, 2008
When companies buy each other out, often the consumer is the one who loses. A few years ago, the great printer/copier mogul Xerox bought out another printer company Tektronics. I happen to be a huge fan of Tektronics printers. In the mid 90s I used a wonderful solid-wax printer at the ad agency where I worked, and when I began a free-lance business of my own, I bought the exact same model. That was January 1998. Each year I purchased the service agreement, because parts have a habit of wearing out and breaking down, and when I joined the convent I brought that printer with me.
I was working on a project for one of the sisters when it had a major meltdown, and the technician, although he got it running again, advised me to buy the new and improved model. He explained that the model I used was not new when I bought it, had been discontinued. Parts were hard to come by, and eventually it would die. That was the summer of 2002. Since the technology had improved and prices had dropped, (don't you love when that happens?) and I still had money in the bank, I followed his advice and purchased the new printer.
Then Xerox bought out Tektronics. Xerox has kept up the service agreement on this printer until this year. When the renewal didn't come in the mail I called them to ask why... and was informed they no longer offer a service agreement on my printer because it is obsolete.
Just like that. The printer works fine. But six years is the limit. My apple computer (a Power Macintosh 800) from 1998 still runs like a champ. I don't use it now for anything except scanning cartoons, but when I crank it up, it works. That's ten years of faithful service by a product who's company is still apple. Not that they would fix it if it broke today... probably not.
So what's my point? I'm not sure exactly, except that we expect our products to break, to have a limited shelf life now. And I still have tools my grandmother gave me that still work after a hundred years of service.