Is It Me?

Well, is it? Or is there anyone else out there sick to death of buying inferior quality products that fall apart, or cease to work, after a very short time. Household items are often the most obvious culprits.

Take these three, for example:

I’m not suggesting there’s anything wrong with the contents of these plastic canisters; they appear to do what is stated on the label i.e. clean and disinfect the bathroom.

At least, they would if I could get the liquid out of the containers.

Here, we have two part-used spray bottles of Chlorox ‘Clean-Up’ and an equally part-used container of Lysol ‘Bathroom Cleaner’. They’ve sat in my bathroom cupboard for months, along with similar, more recently purchased, items.

Why, you may ask, am I discarding half-full bottles of cleaner and buying more?

The answer lies with the mechanical device that screws to the top of the bottle. Designed (if that’s the relative word) to spray a fine mist of disinfectant over my lavatorial surfaces at the touch of a lever, these – no doubt, oriental – inventions cease their function long before the contents is exhausted.

One moment I’m spraying with all the vigor of a gardener chasing greenfly on his tomatoes, then, with no warning, the handle’s gone limp, the issue subsides, and any further pumping results in no more than an occasional splat of bubbles on the porcelain.

I keep hoping that, somewhere out there in our great retail world, there’s one lone pump-action canister with the muscular might of the ‘Exterminator’, the staying power of Rock Hudson and Doris Day, and with workings that won’t ever develop plastic fatigue. When I eventually find my ‘Charles Atlas’ pump-action screw-top, I can use it to finish off all those half-empty bottles in the washbasin cupboard.

Inferior bathroom items don’t stop at disinfectant bottles. There was a time when a brass fitting was manufactured from brass, and stainless steel was actually stainless. Nowadays, they rust, which is really quite strange as neither brass nor stainless steel produces ferric oxide.

A few months ago I decided to refurbish my bathroom. To compliment the newly painted walls and lacquered woodwork I went to Menards where I purchased a new toilet seat and brass fitments for the cabinets.

Today, the ‘brass’ fitments have gone rusty and the ‘stainless steel’ screws securing the toilet seat are leaching a brown stain onto the bowl. Even the heavy ‘brass’ bolts securing the toilet to the floor are being rapidly converted to ferric oxide.

Nothing is what it says it is anymore. Yet, ten years ago I could trust a brass screw or bolt in my toilet cistern to still be fit for its purpose today.

Mind, I’ve been in the US for nearly a decade.

Which sets me to wondering.

Is it me?

Or, is it America?

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3 Replies to “Is It Me?”

  1. It’s not you. Nothing lasts anymore – it’s not good for business for things to last.
    Even small inexpensive items are affected.
    I have similar problems with the items you mention and with hairspray aerosols here. Never had a problem in the UK. Here the hairspray cans often stop aerosoling around halfway down the contents.

    Electrical items don’t last like they used to either. Irons, toasters, hairdryers etc.
    Built to throw away and ruin the environment, but fill the coffers of the corporations.


  2. Twilight – Non-stick baking tins that rust after very little use; tin openers that, in a few weeks, will do their best to sprain your wrist; nine year light bulbs that don’t last six months (I’ve had four of those AND they weren’t from Wal-Mart). The list is almost endless, and America just sits on its overweight backside and never, ever, complains. I do, but all I get for my pains is a voucher to purchase another of their useless products! I can remember my mother buying a bag of potatoes and taking one potato back to the greengrocers to demand a replacement, just because it had black marks under the skin.

    I haven’t even begun to catalog the appalling state of American potatoes……

    …or the way they spell ‘catalogue’.

  3. I presume you’ve tried the usual trick of running the nozzle under hot water – some of the chemicals solidify if they are in contact with air for long enough, and need to be washed out.

    If brass is rusting, then isn’t there some American version of the Trade Descriptions Act, as I’d be certain (not being a chemist, though, I’d have to look it up) that only iron based products should rust? (Brass is copper and zinc; Stainless Steel is iron, Chromium, Nickel and Carbon, but the quality has to be pretty poor for the oxygen to get at the iron part)

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