It seems that there are some household goods being made these days with the manufacturer’s expectation that the owner won’t use them for more than a few months. One example of this is Peter’s treadmill: within a month, the arms on it broke, and when I was using it, about 8 months after we bought it, the motor abruptly burned out. We rigged up the arms with some wood bracing, and the manufacturer replaced the motor under a warranty they probably rarely have to honor, but, are the treadmills of the same brand sold to health clubs of the same quality?
Along the same lines, we are now on our 4th breadmaker, and it seems to me, someone, somewhere, ought to be making something more durable. We discovered the benefits of a breadmaker when some friends of ours demonstrated how they used theirs to make fresh cinnamon rolls. When we saw a $20 model at Fry’s, we snatched it up, and had fresh bread all the time. We thought little of it when it died, and upgraded to a $60 model, but after a few years, it too, went to an ignoble death. By this time, we knew we loved fresh bread, and we might be making it on a daily (sometimes twice daily) basis, so we bought a tried-and-true model, the top-of-the-line Panasonic bread maker. It made much bigger loaves than the machines we had, but we quickly got used to it, and I actually had the basic bread recipe memorized.
And yet, last week, that top-of-the-line, highly recommended bread maker, died, too. I was at all ends. I tried mixing up the bread myself, then baking it, and ended up with a short loaf. I called our local service place and they told me it would cost $50 plus tax and shipping to replace the motor, if we’d do the replacement ourselves; having them drive in from Foster City and diagnose the problem correctly would be more than the machine originally cost. It just made me angry. There are some household items we’ve bought which could stand up to any level of use. At our wedding, we received a KitchenAid mixer, which is still going strong, and would grind meat for us if we wanted it to. After some pathetic vacuum cleaners, we invested in a Dyson vacuum and never regretted the expense. We’d pay nearly anything for a bread maker of the same quality!
I punted the problem to Peter, who bought an even more top-of-the-line machine. It’s made my Zojirushi, a company I know better for their rice machines. But they make rice machines for people who are serious about rice, like my friend’s Chinese mother-in-law, who had (variations of) rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner (albeit without a rice machine). I’m hoping Zojirushi is as serious about bread as they are (according to reputation) about rice. In any case, if it takes more than 5 years to melt down before making its last loaf, it’ll be the first bread machine not intended for temporary use only.