If you buy stuff from on-line stores such as Banggood, GearBest, or any other of a laundry list of China-based wholesalers, you may be surprised at what is going on behind the scenes with many of these businesses. I wasn’t aware of the scale of this problem until recently when i came across a video about electric motors for the remote-controlled hobby industry while researching parts for a build-it-yourself multi-rotor/drone aircraft. But first, a little of the back-story.
Remember when the big-box stores such as Sears, Grants, and later, Walmart, actually sold quality products? Unless you’re in your 50s or older, probably not, but i happen to have been around long enough to be able to observe the massive decline in the quality of the products they sell. You see, it used to be that when you bought a refrigerator, a washer, or a lawn mower from a store like Sears, your kids might have inherited it because it was built to last. I remember seeing refrigerators and other appliances that were far older than i was and some of them are probably still in operation. Today however, in our “consumer” driven society, it is common to have to replace our appliances, tools and electronics every few years because we live in a world of planned obsolescence where products are specifically designed to fail. Worse, it seems the public at large doesn’t even mind spending their cash on the same gadget over and over again, as though it is the new normal. Of course planned obsolescence makes perfect monetary sense from an economic point of view because it is obviously far more profitable to sell consumers the same product multiple times than it is to design products they never have to replace.
Ignoring the ethical problem of planned obsolescence for a moment, we can realize a much bigger problem and that is the fact that we live and depend upon a precious little planet which holds a finite amount of resources such as coal and oil, both of which are critical in the manufacturing of the widgets we buy, and yet our economic systems are based on an infinite growth model. Obviously this cannot continue because it is simply not possible and yet manufactures and wholesalers, like Banggood and so many others, continue to add to the problem by designing and marketing junk which is largely manufactured by cheap Chinese labor. And it gets worse. It isn’t just that they sell a lot of junk, they also sell a lot of fake junk that is marketed as the real junk. Apparently what is happening is that these Chinese wholesalers are taking products which are in high demand and hiring China-based companies to clone them using sub-par components and then sell the copies on their international websites for the same price as the originals. Like myself, you may have known that the Chinese are great at replicating things, but what you may not have known, and i certainly didn’t, is that these copies are showing up en masse among some of the largest on-line retailers on the web and it gets even funnier, or sadder, depending on how you look at it.
As i wrote earlier, i learned about these shenanigans whilst watching a video of a guy talking about the electric motors that are used in the hobby industry, specifically the multi-rotor faction of it (so-called “drones” or “quad copters”), but in no way whatsoever is this problem limited to the hobby industry. In the video, he discloses information that was obtained directly from various engineers regarding these Chinese wholesalers, some who live and work in China. The video picks up at the 26:50 mark where he begins discussing the topic, but if you happen to be an RC enthusiast who has a deep interest in electric motor design, you might want to watch it in its entirety.
- Planned obsolescence – Wikipedia
- Apple’s Factory in China – Rare Footage – YouTube
- Top China Wholesalers, Best Chinese retailers & resellers – www.Keryet.com (a list of businesses to avoid)
- Motor Construction – LOT of info, mostly correct – YouTube
- The Lightbulb Conspiracy – Planned Obsolescence – YouTube
- OBN – How We Became a Throw-away Society
- Open Letter to Craftsman and Sears – Why Ax Professional and USA-Made Tools?!
- Made in China = Piece of Junk – CBS News
- NOT Made in America: Top 10 Ways Walmart Destroys US Manufacturing Jobs | Demos
- Counterfeit Electronics Components – This Is How You Spot Them | Bit Rebels