CHOICE membership

To repair or replace, that is the question



@BrendanMays I agree with you about Youtube . It has certainly helped me out in the past and no doubt will continue the same into the future .


Great in principle but problematic in application because of the litigious world we live in the personnel would need public liability insurance plus probably some indemnity insurance as well.


Excellent idea…so many skilled people are denied work just because they are labelled “old”!


Depends on what the item is and how much it costs.If it’s just a keyboard or something similar.I would buy a new one.Microwave waste of time getting it repaired buy a new one.If it’s a TV repair for sure,but it would depend on how much you spent to buy the TV and how much it costs to repair it.Certainly if you had a cheaper TV you would just buy another one.Or shout yourself a decent quality one next time around


…and how old the TV is re the current replacement costs for a similar unit. eg we bought a $3,700 46" 200Hz HD TV in 2009 that can be replaced with a more feature laden, larger, newer tech model from the same manufacturer for about $800 to make the point.


It’s interesting with washing machines and how they have changed. My mother had a Simpson for about 12 years. She gave it to me when she moved and I used it for a further 3 years before giving it away. My wife had a Simpson before we were married and it lasted for 14 years. Obviously Simpson was the brand we chose when we needed a new washing machine. It lasted 13 months before problems struck. I had to take it to the nearest service man since we were in the country and I explained how we were surprised after the two previous ones. He told me that if he won a Simpson in a raffle the first thing he would do is sell it since the previous metal gears where now nylon and other parts had been cheapened over the years. Well, I guess that’s progress - NOT!


I think the manufacturers need to cheapen the cost of making appliances anyway they can because most consumers buy on price and its hard to compete with the developing worlds imports.

And the older machines were better I have a big old hoover top loader in the shed still running fine, it was my mum’s it was new when I lived at home as a teenager and I have been now married 35 years and raised my own family.

It occasionally springs a leak because the hoses are that old the rubber is perishing, but amazingly i can still find those perishable items for a pittance on the web. But next time something happens it will be permanently retired.

I have a Chef 2000 new fangled stove with a digital clock timer and was fan forced, we fitted in our house when we built it in 1986 it still works perfectly with no problems all these years, it was made in Gordon st Footscray.


For those thinking of repairing rather than replacing, this site may be of use:


Great website, thanks for sharing it @gordon


The Bower repair cafe in Marrickville, Sydney is ahead of the game when it comes to repair cafes, as highlighted in this recent article.


Hi @tndkemp, sadly you’re right - consumers often don’t look past the sticker price when evaluating the cost of an appliance, which is a very short term view. This in turn puts pressure on manufacturers to cut corners on durability because a lower sticker price sells, but the true lifetime cost will often be much higher as a result, due to more frequent and expensive repairs, and a shorter lifespan. It’s not just the fault of the manufacturer though - they live or die by the whim of the market, and if consumers are demanding lower initial purchase prices then that’s what they have to deliver. Consumers themselves need to start taking a longer term view as well.
We’ll be covering this issue in more detail in an article on Design for Disassembly in the next edition of CHOICE, so hopefully we can start a wider conversation on it.


Anecdotally, I’ve also heard that many taxi owners prefer falcon station wagons over sedans because the wagon’s simpler rear suspension configuration is cheaper to replace than the more complex one in the sedan - a not insignificant cost difference when you’re trying to keep such atmospherically high mileage vehicles (barely) roadworthy, even though it can result in a harsher ride for the passengers. So the taxi industry already knows to factor the lifetime cost of repairs into their purchasing decisions, now if only more consumers did…


Sorry to possibly disappoint you, or at least disabuse you of the notion, but, at least currently, repair cafe’s are not usually quite like dining cafes or car wash cafes. They supply the know-how and some tools, you supply the yacka. So you won’t be there waiting, you will be doing. As @BrendanMays mentions, the Bower do a really good job.


An aspect that plays into repair or replacement is a mix of planned obsolescence (a brilliant 20 minutes )
as well as “our” need to keep up with the times. One could buy something that would last 10-20 years, but in the interim new and better products are going to be put on the market and “we” want them.

One of my favourite ads of all time was a picture of an Intel chip on the top captioned “This will be state of the art for the next 6 months”. On the bottom a brick captioned “This will be state of the art for at least 20 years - Acme Brick”. I trust that makes the point that everything is not just about quality and reliability, it is literally about “good enough for long enough” for the product type. Imagine having bought a TV in 2002 that would last 10-20 years - I doubt we could count how many are in the tips today.


Another issue is disposing of the defunct appliance. I live in (formerly Marrickville, now) Inner West Council land, and they are very good with their rubbish/e-waste/ recycling, but larger appliances are an issue. We had a dying washing machine. We were saved the decision or repair or replace by having my mother-in-law’s machine become available. It was working and slightly larger, so we swapped it out. Now trying to dispose of a dying or dead machine. Tried a number of places, through the council and otherwise. We ended up taking the slightly naughty option of leaving it in the back lane (since we have one), and watched and listened as it was then scavenged for metal and parts etc. There was not a lot left! But others may not have such an easy time. I think this the flipside to our consumerist manufacturing ethic. As mentioned by some posters, the European standards and end of life responsibility is helping, but we still have a way to go, at least in Australia.


Amazing what people will take when you leave things outside :smile: Glad some people found it useful though


There is a anecdote about an old working fridge that a guy was trying to dispose of, he’s stuck it outside his house with a free to a good home sign and it sat there for weeks unmoved, eventually he decided to try a different tack. He moved it inside for a couple of weeks and then moved it again out on to the verge this time he put a for sale sign on it for $20, the very next night it was ‘stolen’.
I like this story as it says a lot about the human condition and how we value things.
If a item is free it is internally judged to be valueless and unwanted if we put a price on it it immediately has some value in our minds, whether the item is identical.


That’s true @tndkemp. I live in an apartment block and the amount of usable stuff that ends up in the rubbish area is mind blowing, from appliances to furniture. I saw a designer bag in there just this week, basically new (looked real too, not a rip off). Sometimes people collect it, but my feeling is most of it ends up going to council collection and eventually probably becomes waste.

Meanwhile, just down the street there is an antique/retro shop selling the exact same stuff for a hefty premium.


Our latest article on longer lasting appliances and design for disassembly has just published:

I’d love to know what you all think.


Many good points, but longer lasting appliances require more than just better assembly techniques. They require a change in business culture that can likely only be guided by (unfortunately) regulation that could be productive or counter-productive depending on those making it as well as in the eye of the beholder.

I added my comment to the article, as well as my regular reference to The Story of Stuff video that is quite relevant