Somewhere along the line it became most cost-effective to throw things away than it is to fix them.
I know people who buy new printers rather than spend the money on the ink – it’s about a wash financially and they get a new printer. I recently replaced a small appliance (ok, a little wine storage unit) because when I found out how much it would cost to fix the fan that had broken, a new unit, complete with warranty, made more sense.
Tech may be among the worst offending industries. I mean, if the battery goes on your iPhone or MacBook Air, you can’t replace it. We toss the unit and get a new one. TV‘s are so cheap that the notion of repairing one is pretty alien these days, particularly when we consider that the new item will inevitably be better technology than what’s being fixed.
There is a problem with this mindset, however. Too many people and businesses extend it to their thinking about customers, employees, and others. When a relationship gets broken, we weigh the costs of fixing it against the expense of replacing it. Rather than “fix” an employee who might have underperformed, we fire them. That results in a few things – writing off the investment we’ve made in that person thus far as well as incurring the time and expense to replace them with no guarantee of better results. Rather than investigating each and every customer complaint about service, we try to placate the disgruntled customer with some token gestures (the hotel room isn’t clean? Oh, have a free bottle of water!) and don’t really mind when they don’t return again – they’re a pain. We don’t look at them as fantastic suppliers of information about our failings – we consider them to be pesky children who rouse us from our daily business sleep.
Business relationships – with staff, with customers, with the public at large – are not disposable. In many cases they are not replaceable and all efforts must be taken to repair them. It’s almost never more cost effective to toss them. You agree?