Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Expensive Products That Were Crap

As an obvious follow-up to my post regarding expensive products that turned out to be worth it, I'd like to offer the following list of Products That Sent My Blood Pressure Through the Roof.

Please keep in mind that I am an Equal Opportunity Complainer. And that no brand names have been changed to protect anybody.

Expensive Products That Turned Out to Be Crap

  1. Every DVD player I've ever bought. Seriously. I love DVDs, but I have the worst luck with home-theater DVD players. My first was a Sony, which as I recall sucked over $400 from my bank account, and it lasted just over a year. After that was a Sanyo, and then ... well, I've purged these items from my memory. They're just too painful. But I've gone through at least four of the things, all different brands, and I've mostly given up on buying "brands" at this point. Nothing has lasted much longer than a year or so. My current model is a (gasp!) Memorex DVD recorder. Why'd I buy Memorex? Because at $120, it was cheap, and because when it craps out in 4 or 5 months, I won't much care.

  2. Every cordless phone I've ever bought. Seriously. Again. I've spent untold hundreds of dollars on these things, and the only one to remain operational long enough to require a battery change has been our current Panasonic. And there are times when I'm suspicious that it's about to keel over, too.

  3. Anything I've ever bought with the word SONY on it. Reference Item #1 above. And my first Walkman. To be fair, I guess I should disregard my Playstation 2. At two or three hundred bucks — whatever it was — that little black console cost me what seemed like a bundle. But I suppose all the cool EA college football games, and maybe the Gran Turismo series, have been worth it. Otherwise, my other Sony electronics have all been quite high in price, relatively speaking, and low in quality.

  4. The $68 Weber charcoal grill we bought at Target last week. Oh, I hear you already. "Sixty-eight bucks?" you're asking. "Who the heck cares about sixty-eight bucks?"

    The answer: You would, if you'd just spent sixty-eight bucks on a grill that's worth not more than twenty bucks tops. From the non-insulated, burn-your-fingers-to-a-crisp vent lever on the hood, to the flimsy ash-platter seemingly designed to disperse hot flame-ready embers all over your patio and yard with the slightest waft of breeze, this thing is a PIECE. Leave it to my wife to spoon up the condensed version:

    "That grill," she says, "is shit."

    And no — no matter how you turn it, the lid still doesn't fit right.

  5. Hahn red wine; unknown vintage. A friend brought over a bottle of this red wine one evening a few years back. His dad, a gruff college professor and part-time wine enthusiast who swore by the stuff and pretty much trucked it in from Germany himself, gave it his highest recommendation. We didn't pay for it (in the strictest financial sense, at least), but someone did. And so in my book, this wine counts. So how'd it taste?

    Well, when everyone in the room took his/her first sip, and the room suddenly filled with a nasty, awkward silence ... well, you get the idea. Someone please pass the ANYTHING ELSE. Only you couldn't say it, because your mouth was in full revolt.

    "Wow. That's dry," came the words of my wife after several seconds. (Note that only she was brave enough to break the foul-flavored silence.)

    "Yeah," my friend then summarized. "It sucks."

So let's hear your head-shaking horror stories. What product purchases rank highest on your "I shoulda never bought that!" list?

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— Posted by Michael @ 10:04 AM


I feel your pain. My first DVD player was also a Sony - although I only spent about $250 on mine - and it lasted me approximately 6 months before deciding not to read disks anymore. I went back to the store where I bought it and was told by the salesman "oh, yeah, all Sony's have that problem."



Anything electronic my older brother ever bought me as a gift. God help us, he bought top of the line everything, and it always crapped out by the third use - if it lasted that long.

I lie. The toaster lasted a few months. At least a couple. The $10 toaster I bought from Rite Aid? Six years later, it's doing just fine, thanks.

But the toaster, the "sound system" tape player, the big-deal mixer/breadmaker thingy ... forget it. We'd have had more fun, and gotten more use, if he'd taken dollar bills in the same amount, folded them into paper boats, and set fire to them in the bathtub.

Anonymous La BellaDonna
, at 8:21 AM, April 25, 2007  

Though I have an inexpensive "home theater" system (it was cheap, but the speakers are crap) to play DVD's, I actually get a lot more use out of the DVD drive built into my home PC (which, by the way, I still run Windows 98 on - it works just fine, so why upgrade?). I usually just watch DVD's on that, and it suits me just fine. After several years, it's still going strong.

Anonymous Anonymous
, at 9:20 AM, April 25, 2007  

Ha, my first DVD player was a $300 Panasonic I purchased 6 years ago and it's still working just fine =)

Anonymous Anonymous
, at 12:25 PM, April 25, 2007  

I bought a Toastmaster rice cooker once. The thing crapped out on me after my 2nd use. It was so bulky it wasn't worth sending in for warranty! The best rice cookers are the no-name brands in the Chinatown section of your closest Metropolitan city.

Anonymous Anonymous
, at 12:26 PM, April 25, 2007  

Hey Michael, it's The Wife again. I had to comment on the cordless phone situation.

I think we were cursed and angered the cordless phone gods. It got SO BAD, and SO FRUSTRATING that, after maybe the third one crapped out, we got a SERVICE AGREEMENT.


I hope you're not angry that I let out this dirty secret. I know most everyone says don't ever get service agreements because they're a waste of money. BUT I recall using it when the phone died a little less than a year after we got it. So, for the price of the service agreement, we got a *brand new* unreliable cordless phone. That we probably had to replace the next year. FANTASTIC!


Anonymous The Battleaxe
, at 12:43 PM, April 25, 2007  

Motorola cell phones... high price, low quality. Most cell phones, I've read, have a life span of 18 mos (that's 1.5 years). The only cell phone that I've had that lasted longer was a Panasonic Duramax... lasted for 4 years until US Cellular made me give it up to go with a digital network cell phone... ie Motorola.

Anonymous Anonymous
, at 10:03 PM, April 26, 2007  

you can make a kick ass grill/ smoker with the grill from the weber and an unglazed teracotta pot


I can't seem to find a decent cordless phone. They have so many features that you can't figure out how they work. Then the reception is crappy, the batteries won't hold a change, and the caller ID is unreadable to anyone older than 40. Our current Motorola is the best so far, but still not that great.

Anonymous Anonymous
, at 5:04 PM, April 30, 2007  

The last cordless phones we got were from Radio Shack. The did all right until we decided to ditch the land line and go entirely with cell phones. My blood pressure is much lower without telemarketers trying to ring my phone off the hook every 20 minutes all day long. Verizon's Call Intercept service is crap.

The expensive products that turned out to be crap in our case came mostly from infomercials. First there was the Shark Steamer. It's actually well made, but an o ring on an attachment went and suddenly the product was useless. There is no customer service and no way to buy another attachment, so we threw the thing out. Next we bought the Restform air beds. They were crap. Sure, the bed can hold a 450 pound bear without puncturing, but a 20 pound cat can somehow break through it's defenses, and air leaks out anyway.

We bought a Phantom vacuum cleaner from K-mart. Turns out it was made by Euro Pro (Euro-trash?), the same people who make the Shark Steamer. Like the Shark Steamer, it ran great for a while until a piece of cheap plastic finally failed, rendering the vacuum cleaner useless.

We still have every DVD player we've ever bought, including the one we got from Wal-mart in 2001 for $50.


Good post. I was going to go ad nauseam about paying for Linux, but then I remembered my laptops. I've had two crap out on me mere months after the 1-year warranty expired. Lesson learned: always get the 3-year warranty! That way by the time it's expired, you should have saved up enough for a new one anyway.


As far as DVD players go, my Sony was also crap. Went to a high-end audio store and got a Mitsubishi. No problems whatsoever and we've had it for 3 years. I'll second your cordless phone dilemma...last one we had was a Panasonic also and it held up for over a year and a half until we got rid of our landline.

Anonymous Anonymous
, at 11:36 PM, May 12, 2007  

I have very different experiences. We have several DVD players, but my favorite is still the first one I purchased... a Toshiba that was one of the very first DVD players carried by Best Buy. I think that with my employee discount it was still over $600. Never been cleaned, always works.

I also have a Panasonic cordless phone that I bought in college. Works like a champ, probably 8-9 years old.

We have a 4-year old Weber too. Use it three times a week in the summer, about twice a month in the winter. Love it.

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