No Parts Available: Business Model For An Unsustainable Future

The pictured gazebo was purchased at a major home center two years ago, for less than two hundred US dollars. When first bought, the cloth top, if taken down during the cold weather months, seemed like it might last three or four years. The decorative extruded steel support framework, which stays fastened to the deck surface year-round, originally looked like it would last five to ten years and still does. (I've been touching up any rust spots with black enamel as they appear.)

But, wouldn't you know, the summer sun has begun to age the cloth cover. At the end of year two, a tear has appeared on one corner. So began my attempt to find a replacement: an impossibility, it turns out, due to the business model followed for distirbution of it and many other things made in Asia.A visit to the website of the big box home center from which it was purchased gave no choice except to buy a complete new gazebo of the same dimensions, putting the new top on the old framework. Ridiculous.

Email and phone calls to the store manager and headquarters led to the same conclusion.

Extensive web searching based on a name on a cloth tag on the underside of the cover led to a US West Coast wholesaler of Chinese-made 'out-door living' products. Same deal. Sorry. No replacement parts sold.

A local sail maker and an upholster both quoted ridiculous custom fabrication prices.

At journeys' end, it seems there is no choice for the owner of a two year old item other than to abandon it.

It is a predermined outcome of anonymous sourcing of unbranded goods with no one to stand behind them. We wouldn't tolerate it for our vehicles or bicycles or cell phones or packaged foods. Somehow, we do tolerate it for other product categories. Why?

One solution is to avoid buying unrepairable items; to send suppliers a message. But how do you know until it's too late?

Design can not overcome a business model that does not facilitate the possibility of repair and the customer loyalty than can come from it.

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