Friday, April 30, 2010

I just spent $11.87 on ebay.

Here is a list of what I scored:

10 batteries for my digital scale for $1.20 shipped from china
10 batteries for my 40X loupe for $1.20 shipped from china
10 batteries for my digital caliper $2.99 shipped from china via brooklyn
2 micro forceps shipped from (i suspect) china via florida for the balance.

Lets ignore the fact that we could not send the batteries within the US for $1.20 and focus on the bigger picture.

Even though I bought a lot of crap from china, I still think I helped the planet and my personal economy at the same time. For me to shop locally and buy all of this would take me about $30 in gas to hopefully find it and then pay $5 a battery if I do actually find what I need.

Take two of this today was dealing with low battery life from my cordless phones. I have 3 different models that give me about 10 minutes talk time and need new batteries. When you go to the manufacturer to get a replacement battery you are looking at about $30 or the cost of a new phone at target. I know aftermarket replacement batteries are common and came up with $3 batteries for all of them (shipped!) by typing the number into ebay. That means three more devices are saved from a landfill. If people make their old stuff work, they do not encourage new stuff to be made and that puts us in a better place.

at some point in the future I may go on about printer cartridge costs and the evils of a $60 printer with $80 to replace the cartridge but that is a different rant altogether.


  1. Something that struck me last night was that with all the furore about goldman designing products to fail... what about razor blades, batteries, light bulbs, ink cartridges...?

    I wish people would realise that buying cheap crap is gonna cost us all so dearly in the long run (if it isn't already).

    Ah well. At least I can plug in some trusty 801As to read by

  2. yeah being taught to design in "planned obsolescence" was one of the most irritating things in engineering school...

    but to
    "focus on the bigger picture--"
    yeah; throw away those cheap digital calipers & you'll NEVER have to buy battery's for them again!


  3. Sorry Dave, here is my rant:

    Yes, buying from China is cheap. Soon, everything will be from China and the US will have no manufacturing/jobs of any kind. It is a near term boon, but a long term disaster for our country. When we have to pay for our goods in yuan, things will not seem so cheap anymore. As far are being ecologically friendly, I will bet the 12 year old girl who made your batteries has seen the ecological disaster her plant is creating.

  4. At some point economics dominates. I wasn't trying to brag about my behavior but point out that driving 30 miles and paying $5 for a single battery with the risk of the same COO is not the way to do things. On some level we need to accept that we will be dealing with Chinese goods and the goal is to do it wisely. I'm guessing the $11.87 purchase saved me about $100 total which allowed me not to think twice about paypalling $50 to this guy who just got hosed and is totally down.

    search through the thread and you will find his email and it worked for me for the transaction.

  5. Yes, you are behaving as a perfectly rational consumer.

    However, the problem is that China is dumping products here below cost (artificial wages and costs, no environmental controls, child labor, etc.) with the sole purpose of destroying the US industries. You should be able to get a better deal purchasing from DigiKey or Mouser, leveraging their far superior logistics systems and procurement. That they fall far short should tell you something (and that something is not that they are greedy capitalists out to screw the customer) US companies need to follow US regulations. When you buy direct from China you are hitting the shady grey market. There is no way that you can send a package to China for $1.20 in cost, nor are US retailers are taking a $0.102 product and marking it up to $5.00. If that was the case I would corner the market by only charging $4.00 for that 10 cent part.

    China is terrifying, for exactly the same reasons you are happy about your purchase.

  6. I'm with you but I think you need to accept that the dumping will continue. Look where the profit is going and it is all US based and centered in Arkansas, Minnesota and the corporate headquarters of every other big box chain.

    My 10 batteries for $1.20 just sent the Walton family a message.

  7. Yep, we are now fundamentally and permanently tied to China. Like co-dependents. We do need fair trade, however, our threats are idle as they own a big chunk of our debt and could destroy our currency if they wanted to. In a way, I blame Nixon for opening up China before we knew what we were getting into and how to manage it.

    Retail markup only works when you have a lot of control over your market. This control is gone. One good thing about retailers is that because they market up hi-fi so egregiously that I taught myself how to build and design components. The only thing store bought in my system is the front end. I have to figure out how to build my own turntable and get a strain gage.


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