Why are inexpensive toasters so poorly built? It's maddening!

My third cheap toaster in three years has died.

Why do the everyday stand up bread etc. toasters that cost between 20 to 30 seem to have such limited lifetimes & such poor performance? I could understand paying more if toasters were doing some highly complex job, but all they’re doing is toasting stuff. Push down - heat up- pop up. It’s not technological rocket surgery. You should be able to buy a toaster for $ 25.00 that won’t die in 6-12 months. It’s absurd!

If I pay lots more do I get a bulletproof toaster? What gives here. It’s simple job, why is it so difficult to make a reliable, inexpensive toaster? They do it with microwaves, bread machines, electric can openers, and toaster ovens. Why are cheap toasters such unreliable pieces of junk.

I guess it’s to do with the element, which is fragile and apt to break through the multiple heating and cooling cycles.

Back in the old days as a kid, I remember you could just unwind them (in electric kettles too), tie the ends together, and rewind. Now, you can’t get into the things.

Of course, this doesn’t explain how expensive toasters last longer (if indeed they do).

I agree-it is next to impossible to replace the heater elements in a cheap toaster. To begin with, they are held together by metal tabs, which go through slots in the case, and are bent over. Once you unbend them, the tabs break off, which means the case will fall apart. In the old days, the thing was screwed to a sturdy metal frame-you could take it apart and put it together unlimited numbers of times.
Also, the connectors and switches are the cheapest that the mfg. can buy-typically pennies per item. So, you get what you pay for. You are better off buying a more expensive unit-or even a restaurant-quality unit. But people want to buy cheap, and China Inc. is only too willing to oblige. Which is why our landfills are full of slightly used junk!

I’ve had little luck with more expensive toasters, either. It’s enough to drive a girl back to her space-hogging toaster oven.

Not if you take the time to understand how it’s slotted together, and are careful when ripping it apart.
On my cheap toaster, the thermal sensing rod at the bottom of the toast slot got covered with crumbs over the course of a couple of years. This turned #6 on the toastiness dial into about a #1. Of course, cleaning off the sensing rod doesn’t provide much of a fix, because much of the toast residue has turned to carbon, or possibly diamond, to the guts of the toastiness knob, and put a little coating of epoxy on the round plastic ramp which controls the position of the doneness sensor. Two years after this fix, my cheap toaster reliably gives me perfect toast at dial setting #2.

If they sold you a $20 toaster that worked as well and was as reliable, why would anyone buy a $50 toaster? And $50 toasters are where their jam is.

I suppose it’s possible that some innovation in the manufacturing process could drive the price of good toasters down to $20, but then it would probably be the case that cheaper, inferior toasters would be available for $15 and less - and you’d still be buying those, and still be wondering why they can’t make a decent one for the same price.

For any given product, it’s usually possible to manufacture an inferior version at lower cost. Toasters happen to be one of those products where the inferior ones are still good enough to sell.

I don’t know what Toaster God I annoyed as a small child, but I have never been able to find a toaster that doesn’t turn into a Random Carbonizer Unit within a couple of months max. My mother has the same damned toaster we used when I was a kid, which means it’s over 40 goddamned years old and it works perfectly, yet every time I break down and buy a new toaster it’s a piece of shit within mere moments. It doesn’t matter how much I spend, either–back in the day I used to spend lots on new toasters, thinking it was just the cheapies that fell apart but NOOOOOOOOO. Now I count myself lucky if I can figure out how to wangle each successive useless random carbonizer into producing something which remotely approaches toast but dammit, it would be nice to have a toaster that just effin’ well MADE TOAST. With darkness settings that actually made a difference in the toastedness of the bread inside instead of what I have, which is the darkness setting all the way up to “Satan’s Asshole” but I have to push the bread down for two full cycles to get it toasted all over. Of course the last shitty toaster had the darkness control all the way down to “Angel Bum” but it’d spew out a pre-diamond in a minute if you didn’t watch it like a hawk and pop it up by hand.

None of which actually addresses the OP but I feel a little better now…

I’m not sure what brand or model our toaster is, but supervenusfreak had it before I moved here almost 5 years ago, and it’s still going strong.

It’s called planned obsolence.

For any given product, there are a number of markets you want to tap into: the market for people who have enough money that they are not concerned about price, and the market for people for whom affordability is a real issue (the “rich/poor” divide). There is also (running somewhat parallel) the market for people who assume that things that cost more are better, and the market for people who will buy the cheapest on the market (the price shopper divide).

You want to charge the former in each case as much markup as you possibly can (because that is pure jam) and the latter little enough that you ensure that you don’t miss sales through sheer lack of affordability or not being as cheap as the cheap end of the market.

So assume you can basically build a cheap reliable widget with no real drama (old simple technology). If you put out two identical products at two different price points you won’t get the upper part of the price shopper market because no one is going to pay more for a dearer product on the assumption it must be better if it is plainly identical to the cheaper product. And you won’t get the upper part of the rich/poor market because there is no reason to pay more to get nothing. So what do you do?

You make widgets that are crappier and less stylish for $10. And you make widgets that are very slightly more reliable and which are stylish and are supported by prestige ad campaigns and this costs you $15 per. You sell the former for $20 and the latter for $50. The cost difference is small and near irrelevant, but you have divided the market and got more money out of those who can be induced to pay more.

I’ve told this story before, but anyway: when I was a teen I had a friend who was an electronics/widget geek and (much to his mother’s consternation) liked pulling her appliances apart to see how they worked. (and, to be fair, putting them back together again, at least mostly). On more than one occasion he discovered that internally the cheaper model his mother had bought could by (say) punching out a cutout in the case and inserting a knob onto an existing rheostat on the internal circuit board turn his mothers widget into the next model up: the manufacturer had made the circuit boards the same in both cases, but had just left off the knob on one model (at a cost saving of what, five cents?) to deliberately create a downgraded model and a different pricepoint tens of dollars cheaper.

Cost price is barely relevant in this sort of stuff.

My toaster cost eff all and is working five or more years after it was bought. It’s the $50 cd players that break for me once a year.

I don’t think i’ve ever spent more than $10 on a toaster…you’re doing it wrong.

CD players? People still buy those? :wink:

Well I could just use them as coasters but I’m sentimental about those lil shiny discs.

I think you make a fair point on the relative prices of basic vs premium items from any given manufacturer, but surely in a saturated, competitive market, prices will tend to be driven down and manufacturers will seek to preserve their margins by reducing cost?

This is why I buy all of my appliances at the thrift store, and why they all have that strange beige and avocado coloring. :slight_smile:

Most cheap appliances now are made of plastic-which once broken, cannot be fixed. This was brought home to me-my brother still has my mother’s 1968 GE can opener-solid aluminum, as good as new. Wheras the plastic model I have is obly 5 years old-and ready for the trash

I’m currently trying to repair a can opener. I know, I know it’s faster and cheaper to but a new one. It was an easy fix once apart but the plastic housing the moving parts fit into is what is a PITA. They’re tricky to get apart and even trickier to get back together.

Three 20 dollar toasters in three years, you’re still 260 bucks ahead vs. this one :slight_smile:

:eek: I wonder if they actually sell any of those? I notice they’re only available online.