Monday, June 1, 2015

No pride, no quality?

"Name" companies fail
To meet their promises


I LOOOKED UP AT THE CEILING LIGHTS and noticed that yet another Obama bulb had burned out, well short of its advertised 10 thousand hour functional life.

There are only a handful of companies putting their label on the Curly Florescent Lights (CFLs) sold in the U.S., not all of which are U.S. companies. (Phillips, for example, is a Dutch company with headquarters in Amsterdam.)

No matter what company’s label is on the box, ALL the CFLs are made in China. I have checked a number of stores and the country of manufacture always is China.

NO QA/QC IN CHINA. Americans should know by now that Chinese products, especially (a) low end products or (b) products that have no competition from U.S. and Canadian companies - such as CFLs - are notoriously shoddy; there is little, if any quality assurance or quality control in Chinese factories.

Back in the day, in the early 50s, Japanese products had a well-deserved reputation as shoddy. Cheap, but shoddy.

Some companies that imported Japanese products that cost more than a few dollars - $100 35mm cameras, for instance - performed their own QA and QC on the products once they arrived on the U.S.' shores.

Honeywell was one such company. If a camera had HONEYWELL stamped on the pentaprism, Honeywell stood behind the camera, knowing it passed its own U.S. based QA/QC inspection. (I owned a Honeywell Pentax H3v that survived my work as a reporter, then was used by a friend who eventually gave the camera to his son-in-law.)

Today, most Americans have confidence in Japanese-made products. They may not be innovative - the Japanese are great at copying other's ideas and then improving upon them - but they, generally, ARE reliable products - Nissan nee Datsun, Honda, Mitsubishi (cars and planes), and Toyota are Japan's flag bearers in the transportation industry. But, while once "cheap" in all meanings of the word, Japanese products now have both QA/QC and higher price tags.

The CFLs imported into the U.S. are SUPPOSED to be checked for compliance to Energy Star compliance.

According to the Saving Electricity web site (, under the subheding "CFL longevity," we read that

    It's no secret: the cheaper CFL's often burn out quickly. Sometimes even a batch of name-brand bulbs can be bad. I strongly recommend you buy only CFLs with the Energy Star seal or that come with a warranty. Energy Star bulbs have to meet strict specs for lifespan, and they have to maintain 80% of the initial light output at 40% of their rated lifetime.

    It's a myth that frequent cycling (turning lights and on off) greatly reduces CFL life. When CFLs fail, it's generally because they were cheap and poorly made, not because they were turned on and off too much. In Consumer Reports' rigorous testing, after 3000 hours with frequent on-off cycling, most of their CFL's are still going strong, and the Energy Star bulbs are lasting longer than the non-ES bulbs. And to get the Energy Star label, 5 of 6 test bulbs have to stay alive after being cycled for half the number of stated life-hours. For example, a bulb with a claimed life of 6000 hours is turned on for 5 minutes and off for 5 minutes, a total of 3000 times.

Even the Energy Star requirement of 80% of the initial light output at 40% of their rated lifetime is not encouraging.

The failure rate, at least in the bulbs in my use, seems to be excessive.

I HAVE returned a bulb to a retailer and the retailer DID provide a replacement, but any saving I might have enjoyed by using the Obama bulb was cancelled out by the cost of returning the bulb.

We no longer have a choice of light bulbs - we can buy ones made in China or we can buy ones made in China.

I suppose the old saw "You get what you pay for" holds true for the Chinese no-quality products; still, it would be nice of the companies putting their labels on the product cared enough about THEIR corporate image to take some responsibility for the products that bear their logo.

Honeywell had it right - back in the day.

No comments: