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MADE IN… WHERE?

April 7, 2009

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Over the years, we’ve come to rely on certain brand names. If you buy a product from a well-known manufacturer, you know you’re getting better quality than an “off-brand” product.

I must have been abducted by aliens while all this changed. When did GE, RCA, Sony and other well-known brands start building products that quit working after 60 days? Or, don’t work the way they are designed to work?

Case in point: Universal Remote Controls. These companies build single “universal” remote controls that are designed to operate all of our audio and video electronic devices. There are basically two types of universal remotes. There is the “learning” remote and the “coded” remote. Both have codes installed that will run most electronic audio/video devices. The difference is the “learning” remote will “learn” the code of your individual devices by “reading” their signals. This means it should run ANY device, once it “reads” the signal coming from that device.

So why does it take FOUR TRIPS to electronic stores to buy one that will function the way it should and last longer than college basketball’s March Madness?

3remotes

I’m sure most of you have seen these or similar Universal Remotes. All are from manufacturers that supposedly represent quality. Well…

The GE on the left quit working after 60 days. A second one quit working even sooner. The RCA in the center can only operate my TV – which, oddly enough, is not an RCA TV. It doesn’t have the correct codes for my DVD player, CD player or VCR. (Yes, I still have a VCR.) The Sony on the right works my TV and VCR, but will not run my DVD player or my Sony CD player. That’s right. My SONY Universal Remote doesn’t have a code in it for my SONY CD Player. Unbelievable.

And the common denominator among all these units? None of them are made in America.

The Sony is made in China.

madechina

The RCA is made in Indonesia

madeindonesia

I have no idea where the GE unit was manufactured. I even tore it apart to see if it was marked somewhere inside. Nothing.

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We have traded quality control and workmanship for no quality and poor workmanship in order to compete in the world market. Rather than being the leaders in manufacturing, we’ve opted for being greedy. Quality is now far less important than making money.

On the surface, paying less to build products appears to be a smart business plan: Higher profits (in the short run), lower wages, better stock prices which means better bonuses for management, all feed into this thinking – which has now come back to bite us – HARD!

When companies reduce quality, they must also expect income to drop eventually. A company may be able to “sneak” by with little attention to quality for a while, but sooner or later, sales will drop. Why not, instead, maintain and continually improve quality, maintain good wages and benefits for workers, and just charge more for the product? So what if your competitors are selling “similar” products for less money. In the long run, they lose – you win.

Building the better “mousetrap” is how this country became a manufacturing giant. We have the skill, technology and workforce to resurrect that business model once again.

There is no substitute for quality.

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com

PS – I ended up with a universal remote from a company called – as God is my witness – Universal.

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It not only came with instructions, it even has a DVD to help you learn how to set it up. It operates the TV and DVD player perfectly, the VCR, partially – it can’t operate the clock and recording functions. As for the Sony CD player: it has no clue. (sigh)

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Oh yeah. It’s made in Korea.

😦

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