My unhappy relationship with things Chinese began a few years ago when I started using energy-saving light bulbs. Having come from Europe, I was used to these working well and lasting for up to five years. Here, they regularly burned out after just a few weeks, sometimes only a day or two. I literally went through dozens in the course of a year. Two actually exploded and a third started a fire. I also remember seeing some media reports about this at the time. Finally, I gave up on the generic ones and started using only Philips and GE. I don’t know if these brands are actually manufactured in China or not but since I started using them I have had no more problems.
Over the years I have bought many electronics devices having to do with computers, audio, and video. Some of my purchases included a KVM switch, a digitiser, and a (Dick Smith) USB network cable for directly transferring files between computers. All made in China. The switch began intermittently failing after a few months. This kind of failure, which is almost impossible to diagnose or prove when making a warranty claim, seems to happen a lot. The digitiser never worked correctly and the USB cable never worked at all. I exchanged it but the replacement had the same problem so I gave up. It wasn’t that expensive.
Just recently, a new digital photo frame developed an intermittent fault. When I took it back under the warranty the store manager just sighed and refunded my money. He didn’t even bother looking at it. He said it wasn’t worth trying to fix.
Just before Christmas I bought a sub-woofer amp. This brand-new marvel of Chinese manufacturing technology lasted precisely two weeks before one of the electrolytic capacitors in the power supply went out. It was grudgingly repaired under warranty, but I still had to pay to ship the thing back to Auckland. I bought the amp, by the way, to replace another Chinese one that died after just a couple years.
Check out my set-top boxes. For a time the Openbox receiver worked as it was supposed to. Just after the warranty expired it started doing increasingly strange things that at first confused me and made me unnecessarily replace my LNBs and DiSEqC switch before the Openbox finally died for good. Its replacement sort of works though it freezes on start-up and usually has to be booted several times. The terrestrial receiver has trouble remembering its settings. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. These are only some examples of my bad experiences.
In contrast to this nonsense, not a single one of the Japanese products I own, such as the excellent Yamaha amp that has served me well for many years, has ever given me any trouble at all.
My point is that even though products sold in New Zealand come with warranty protection under the Consumer Guarantees Act, it is still a major disappointment and a lot of hassle and sometimes added expense when something fails just after you buy it. Naturally there will always be a degree of failure, but is such a high failure rate reasonable or acceptable? If you buy something new, even if it is a cheap generic model, shouldn’t you be able to expect it to work normally and last for at least two or three years?
I don’t want this to become an anti-Chinese rant. I also appreciate that the Chinese are perfectly capable of making good quality stuff. But I suspect they flood the market with a lot of inferior rubbish. I wonder if they understand quality control. Here in distant New Zealand, with our Free Trade agreement, a lot of what appears in our shops only comes from China. It is not impossible to find high-quality goods from Europe and elsewhere, but it is more difficult and usually much more expensive. So a lot of the time, in practical terms, we don’t have a lot of choice. Are we being taken advantage of?
I would like to know the thoughts and experiences of others on this subject, which is why I have started this thread. Are Chinese goods as bad as I think? Is there a reason for this? Do we, as consumers, have a right to demand better? Thanks for reading this and sorry about the length. I feel so much better now.