We're starting to see this kind of practice on an increasing number of big-ticket items where the consumables (filters in this case) represent a tiny fraction of the overall cost. GE isn't making the majority of their money off of selling you replacement filters, yet they've gone and done this to make a few extra bucks. I have a Samsung TV that tries to show me postage stamp sized ads when I'm in it's interface. I spent thousands on the thing and Samsung will be lucky to get pennies from those ads. I add filters to block the domains those ads are coming from to my router periodically, but Samsung keeps coming up with new ones.
The next TV I buy will not be a Samsung, and I suspect the author of this article has bought his last GE appliance. Why are companies driving away people who make multi-thousand dollar purchases with scummy behaviour that nets them spare change? Do the vast majority of people just not care? That's the only way the math makes sense.
I think the problem is you have a VP of this and VP of that, each of whom are tasked to squeeze pennies today via this vertical or that gizmo or else find a new job tomorrow. It's endemic, becoming an entrenched feature of big (U.S.) business. The people in those positions are incentivized to not give two hoots about a $2,000 lost sale eight years from now; they are employed literally to squeeze the extra $20 from replacement filters now. That's it.
Builtin ads or DRM should be a major point in any review or feature comparison matrix.
I believe it's colloquially known as a "racket."
But yeah, I wish more reviewers would do this, especially now that DRM and EULAs are finding their way into what were previously dumb appliances.
Because high-margin goods aren't spare change. Look at the razor:
I can sell you the razor at cost-plus for $20 on a $19 manufacturing cost. I can sell you each individual razor cartridge at 90% profit for $1. At the end of the year I've sold, say, 5 razors and 50 blades, for a total of $150.
On the one hand, the razors made up the bulk of my gross revenue ($100/$150).
On the other hand, looking at the actual profit I've generated, $45 came from blades and $5 came from razors - that is, 90% of my profit came from those "pennies" that the razors brought in.
If you can strong-arm people into buying high-margin goods, that's a strong bonus to your bottom line, even if the absolute price isn't that high.
Let's plug a fridge into those numbers.
A nice new GE fridge can be had for something in the vicinity of $800 (sears website is showing me stuff $600-$1000, so let's just split the difference). Amazon has GW RPWFE filters up at $50 a pop.
You buy a fridge, what, every ten years? Every twenty? Those filters "should" be replaced every quarter? Let's be generous and say every half a year.
Those filters generate the same profit as the fridge at 16 years out, at the same profit margins. At asymmetric profit margins (say, 30% vs. 5%) they've produced profits equal to that of the fridge in a handful of years.
These aren't pennies.
( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haier )
This behavior is so consistent in new appliances that I'm convinced companies are designing in the failures on purpose, because they've figured out that consumers will tolerate it and because the dearth of actual major appliance competitors leaves consumers no other choice.
People will say, "yes , but the Xbox or PS4 home screen also shows ads". In my opinion those ads are far less annoying than having an ad on the actual TV. If I want something totally ad free I also have my HTPC connected to the screen.
I don't see giving any TVs the wifi password or a direct Ethernet cable any time in the future.
Another example: 4K on Netflix on a PC - you can't do it (unless using Intel IGPU > kabylake and Edge on Win 10 only). Mac users need to use a Win VM. But my TV app works.
It sucks, it really really sucks.
Netflix is available in Ultra HD on Windows computers and tablets. To stream in Ultra HD, you will need:
A Windows 10 computer or tablet with the latest Windows updates installed.
The Microsoft Edge browser or the Netflix app for Windows 10.
A 60Hz 4K capable display (with HDCP 2.2 connection if external display).
NOTE: Every monitor connected to your computer must meet these requirements to successfully stream in Ultra HD.
Intel's 7th generation Core CPU (i3, i5, or i7 models in the 7xxx or 7Yxx series) or newer, or a NVIDIA GPU that meets these requirements.
A plan that supports streaming in Ultra HD. You can check which plan you're currently on at netflix.com/ChangePlan.
A steady internet connection speed of 25 megabits per second or higher.
Streaming quality set to Auto or High. More information about video quality settings can be found in our Playback Settings article.
The problem is I don't gaming on TV so I buy STB with crappy SoC.
There's even a feature where you can directly access a channel's "smart" features from that channel (so if I'm watching Arte I press the red button and get replay episodes etc)
And then they force ads down my throat :(
The projector is dumb. It has its own remote, but we don't need to use it; the recent Fire Stick remotes understand how to control the volume and how to turn it off, and that's all you need.
HDMI-CEC means the Fire Stick turns on the projector when you click on it, so you don't need to turn on multiple devices.
I can only find a list of useless apps (other than Netflix, YouTube)
I didn't mention the brand because I haven't gone back in to double check what's happening here.
Besides that their access to the internet is blocked on my firewall.
I don't want nor need "smart" features and I would have paid more for the same panel with fewer features.
Have you seen all the ads on an Nvidia Shield? So now I have to also install LineageOS?
1. GE can only count the dollars it makes from this little scam, not the dollars it lost. It doesn't see the fact that I now resent them (I discovered this "feature" a month ago) and will likely avoid even buying lightbulbs with their logo on them can't factor into their model.
2. These aren't items you replace often, so it will take years for any negative effect to set in, unless the reviews tank.
Cell phones are the hardest case there, and I'll probably break my rule in that case. But in general, I'm not paying rent on things I already bought, even if that tax is in the form of stupid ads.
 I'm also not going to play what-about-this-edge-case with quibblers.
If buyers go for sticker prices and $10 make or break a deal, then it doesn't matter if the product costs $1000. If somebody can offer a similar product for $990, people will buy that. With all the features and options, what else but price is relevant unless you have time to study the subject?
Does it match your decor?
I think you’d be surprised by the number of people who buy something that’s in their price range but also matches their idea of what that thing should look like.
From my perspective, a $1000 screen is a significant purchase.
Hell, spending $500 on an appliance gives me pause.
Mind you, you’d probably laugh out loud if you saw what us locally employed (ie, not FIFO) tradespeople get paid.
We have a french door fridge and I loathe it. Someone told me to skip that and get a bottom freezer single-door, but my wife really wanted the french door. We regret it. The recommendation to avoid was spot-on.
The margins for appliance manufacturers are tight. 3-5% is not uncommon.
Features like wifi connectivity and premium finish are how you start increasing profitability but even then you aren't making significant profit per unit until you hit the very top product lines – think Samsung's Dacor or GE's Monogram.
Any proposed change to the appliance goes through a cost/benefit analysis that is more rigorous than anything I've seen in a software company: if your BOM or cost to assemble go up by pennies you have to convince executives that either cost of quality goes down to compensate, OR that it will drive sales.
Water filters, on the other hand, have margins that have 2 or even 3 zeros at the end.
I want a basic fridge with maybe $200, tops (manufacturing & material cost) of improvements to things that actually matter (castors on drawers make a huge difference for the feel of fridge drawers, for example) + non-ugly exterior. Counter depth (so less material!). No ice maker, no water integrated, none of that stuff. Certainly no damn screens. Just a compressor with a cabinet. A good and useful layout, or "UX" if you prefer (this adds no cost, or very little, past the initial design, which can be re-used indefinitely). I will pay a $600-800 premium over the most basic model for this, retail. Call it $1500.
... but in fact the nice parts I want aren't available except on very "high-end" models that start at like $2.5k from a dent-n-ding outlet (let alone full retail) with tons of extra crap, and you pay significantly more for counter depth in most cases (I guess economies of scale make them solidly 10% more expensive, despite the savings in materials?). It sucks, I just want a basic fridge that looks & feels nice and doesn't stick out into my kitchen like some kind of menacing mechanical monster, but is not a rip-off. Pretty much doesn't exist.
[EDIT] actually it's fair to say that "nice, simple, and reasonably priced for the extras it takes to achieve 'nice'" is a category markets often fail to deliver for me. They seem to be great at delivering cheap and crappy, cheap and kinda OK (think: all non-Ikea flat-pack furniture for the former, Ikea for the latter), expensive and crappy, and expensive and actually good. There's a middle-market that seemingly never gets served and sends me looking for antiques, when possible. I suspect the reason for these outcomes boil down to information asymmetry, like lots of problems with markets.
Many manufacturers sell to retailers under a unilateral minimum price policy. You can buy from the manufacturer and stock your showroom, but you are not allowed to mark it below a certain price. You'll also see payments from the manufacturer to the retailer in the form of "advertising support" to drive certain models. So you'll end up with a retailer:
* Paying $500 per unit (A) which they cannot mark below $399, but buying a certain amount at a loss to receive a payment from the manufacturer for paper/web/TV advertisements contingent on including A in the advertisement and possibly even presenting it in a certain way on the sales floor (endcap, front display, etc.)
* Paying $450 per unit for unit (B) which they cannot mark below $599
The goal for the retailer is then obviously to buy as few of the first unit as possible to get the manufacturer payment and then push as many customers as possible to buy the second. The manufacturer is happy because unit A was last year's model rebadged and they could clear inventory and move towards retiring it.
The real top end items are sold under unilateral fixed pricing: you pay $X and must retail it for $Y. Manufacturers have people employed to mystery shop and look for violations. If a retailer marks up or marks down, they are blacklisted. Possibly for all lines, not just the marquee brand - depends on your sales.
Surely this is as simple as adding a small fan so that air circulates inside?
It's also worth noting that just insulating better isn't really an option (without developing better insulation) because refrigerators need to have as large as possible interior volume compared to exterior volume to be competitive, what can be fit inside is a definite selling point.
I guess I'm not saying how this fits
Controllers (Licensed accessories)
soon everyone will do this, by the time someone who had this happen to them and got mad gets around to buying another fridge it will be industry wide procedure - therefore they will accept it (or do without a fridge) and then they will buy our product based on some other calculation than if it has the mal-feature that every other fridge will have.
Sadly this means products often arnt designed for you or me (I hate the idea of advertising built into Samsungs TV). But those are the economics in this situation...
People would ask him why they wouldn't offer a linux version.
The answer was - it would cost more because their monetization strategy netted something like $60 per machine - which actually made the linux machine more expensive.
(this was a couple of years ago, numbers might be different)
Considering they have the most market share, people do not care enough about the malware they install versus the lower price offered on the malware ridden TVs.
I ran into this when I bought a set of GE appliances and was furious. I was happy to find the bypass method after some googling but I’m still holding out hope that someone hacks the board and just disables the check all together.
When my friend bought his house he was lucky enough to have a refrigerator with the same ‘feature’. Luckily I was able to warn him right away so he could gather supplies for the bypass.
Never again will I ever consider GE Appliances and I’m always sure to warn people.
Stuff like this is trash. So often you only find out you have this technology after it's too late and own an appliance with it.
I am not a fan of more regulations, but if large companies are going to insist on acting like unprincipled jerk-ass immature children about things, more regulation is exactly what they're going to get. And I'll gladly vote for them.
If companies show again and again they can not act responsibly without regulation, I don't have time to listen to them whine about it any longer.
As far as the main point of the thread, honestly, the older I get, the more of a Luddite I become when it comes to home electronics and appliances. I purchased and restored an older model Viking range due to it being mostly straight electronics, mechanics and pneumatic. I was able to rebuild the whole thing in 2 days. Anymore the appliance repair guys don't want to deal with repairs, unless the appliance is throwing a code and all they have to do is replace a logic board. Usually they just come out and tell you to buy a new one from them. So I have gotten to the point where, I just want simple stuff that I can repair myself. I have a commercial refrigerator and a commercial stand up freezer for this reason, they are built with repair in mind and generally use stock interchangeable parts that are simple and durable. If a person really wants to opt out of this appliance DRM game, buy used commercial equipment or boutique semi-pro home appliances. They really are better quality and most are built to be repaired and last a lifetime.
If you play games are you now boycotting pubg (battleye), riot (valorant denuvo), Bethesda (doom denuvo), blizzard (warden), or many many other rootkit anticheats/antipiracy?
Are they potential security and stability headaches? Yes, as with anything you load into your OS kernel. But rootkits they are not.
Valorant’s Vanguard sucks because the thing insists on running 24/7 and requires a reboot to disable or re-enable. During operation it causes a whole host of issues from blocking programs to causing BSODs - but it sits there in plain sight.
Denuvo anti-cheat’s major issue is for whatever godforsaken reason they decided to bypass ntdll to make some syscalls breaking WINE. Presumably they did this because ntdll can be hooked like anything else, but this speaks of poor design more than anything as the kernel-mode driver should be more than capable of detecting this.
Battleye is...fine. As is Easy Anti-Cheat.
Blizzard’s warden has been a privacy mess over the years with it scanning window titles and reporting them back. But AFAIK it does all of its work usermode.
I’m not a huge fan of the level of access modern anticheat packages have on my system - but with the widely open platform that is PC gaming it’s no surprise that gamers and developers alike want cheaters to be dealt with. Valorant can kiss my ass right now though, at least everything else has the decency to only run when I’m playing a game.
The difference between them and anti-cheats in games are that they installed it without your permission, Sony took existing open source tools (violating the GPL in the process), that while legitimate where often used by black hats to invade and exploit systems and made it into a tool to spy on users, placing a Sony audio cd into your computer would put a rootkit onto your computer. It evaded detention and resisted removal, it would report to them any suspicious activity that they deemed piracy, which they would then turn over to the RIAA to sue you. Their root kit did not protect the single album you put into your computer it spied on all your activity to report back any activity Sony deemed suspicious and again once it was there, you where spied on until you reformatted you drive and installed a clean OS. It was by every definition an intrusion virus and a rootkit.
But if what you are hinting at is that one should be consistent and refrain from buying not just Sony products but also any others that perform similar stunts then yes I do try to be consistent. However I'm not about to do myself serious harm in the process precisely because I know that I am just one customer out of millions. So I put up with Microsoft because I need Visual Studio for work, I put up with Android because there really is no other alternative ecosystem that supports the applications that I need in the society in which I live.
I rationalize my way out of the problem by buying less of everything on the grounds that I am then simply less likely to have to make such a decision
GE repair workers were GE employees that knew how to fix GE appliances. They really knew what they were doing and were helpful and resourceful with the goal of repairing things instead of replacing things. A service call was expensive but absolutely worth the money.
I don't think most people care too much about paying $20 every six months for a "genuine" replacement water filter (especially when we all know the health risks of counterfeit garbage) for their $2000 refrigerator.
When the repair guy comes and tells you that your 10-year old fridge doesn't need to be replaced, it just needs a $200 circuit board and does the job in 10 minutes, you develop some brand loyalty. But that's all gone now because the new company got rid of it.
> This website is best viewed with proper web browsers such as Lynx or Elinks.
I love it!
I know a little bit about RFID and know a decent amount about DRM in general, but I'm specifically wondering what type of cryptography (presumably?) is used here.
I've got to imagine the RFID tag provides some kind of signed data (e.g. serial number) that can be verified by the fridge's "Führer board" (poster's term, not mine).
BTW this kind of stuff is everywhere, not just water filters and Keurig coffee. IMO sometimes perhaps it's justified for safety reasons (consumable parts of medical devices, laptop batteries[fires], etc.). Not so much maybe for inkjet/laser printer cartridges, coffee refills, etc.
Side note: I consulted with a printer company maybe 5-6 years ago, and they pretty much convinced me (brainwashed me?) that their big concern wasn't revenue stream, but customer experience / damage to the printer. The one and only time I've owned an inkjet, I bought a cheap ink refill and it printed like shit and eventually ruptured and damaged the printer, so perhaps I was pre-disposed to believing the printer company.
You buy a thing, but still don't own it after the purchase.
Think of having to pay rent to live in your own house.
(These days, however, I'm hesitant to pay for anything that isn't open source. I just don't trust any of you.)
So land taxes?
2. Taxes fund a big part of what gives land more value. If you own the land, that means you're getting a part of that value, meaning you should be paying for it.
All the land there is already belongs to someone. The only way to get land, is to buy/take it from someone else. We can't make more, even with immense resources (no, artificial islands and reclaiming oceans aren't viable enough to matter yet). Someone can single-handedly destroy the supply with a one-time cost.
Fridges aren't finite in the same way, as we can always make more, as long as we have the resources. If we run out of resources, we may be able to figure out how to make them out of different resources. If we run out of those, we have a much bigger problem than fridges and no time to talk about economics. As it stands now, if someone wants to destroy the supply of fridges, they would have to keep buying them as they are made almost indefinitely (i.e. NOT a one-time cost).
Once we run out of all the base materials to construct fridges with and the "fridge economy" is based entirely on trading working fridges and recycling old ones for material to make more, then you can start to compare the two.
The single argument I made was quite clear and unambiguous. Everything composed of matter is finite in nature, and that fact contradicts your previous suggestion that land is somehow special in this regard.
> Setting aside the long-term "everything on this planet is finite" and the even less useful "the universe is infinite" arguments
I think you may be using a different definition of "argument" than me. Feel free to elaborate.
> none of them operate on a time scale that's relevant to an individual today
Quite to the contrary. Scarcity is the basis of the entire field of economics.
> land is finite in a way that very few things are
Land is more finite compared to what? Land and refrigerators are apples and oranges. Land is also as hypothetically infinitely divisible beyond practicality as any number of other things including refrigerators.
> All the land there is already belongs to someone. The only way to get land, is to buy/take it from someone else.
Does this not also apply to all raw materials which a refrigerator is composed of?
> Fridges aren't finite in the same way, as we can always make more, as long as we have the resources.
> If we run out of resources, we may be able to figure out how to make them out of different resources.
Changing which finite resource you are using does not change the fact that those resources are still finite.
> no, artificial islands and reclaiming oceans aren't viable enough to matter yet
Somehow, you claim that these are not viable options, yet offer the possibility of making refrigerators with different resources. If land costed enough to make artificial islands a good investment, they would exist. Similarly, if refrigerators could be produced and sold using different raw materials, we would see that reflected in refrigerators currently available for sale.
> If we run out of those, we have a much bigger problem than fridges and no time to talk about economics
It is an established fact in economics that (at least privately owned) resources generally never run out. The less that is available, the more expensive resources are to extract, and the harder it is to maintain economies of scale. These and other factors contribute to higher costs of the raw goods themselves and products produced with them, driving demand to the use of other raw materials to achieve similar ends. For example, we are not going to ever run out of oil. It will simply increase in price until electronic vehicles or other options will become dominant, and the use of oil will become more confined to niche products.
> As it stands now, if someone wants to destroy the supply of fridges, they would have to keep buying them as they are made almost indefinitely (i.e. NOT a one-time cost).
If enough fridges are purchased, the finite nature of which is represented by raw materials required, then the exact same thing will happen as in the case where enough land is purchased. The prices will increase until it becomes impossible to keep making purchases.
> Once we run out of all the base materials to construct fridges with and the "fridge economy" is based entirely on trading working fridges and recycling old ones for material to make more, then you can start to compare the two.
Again, this is impossible, and if you read and understand everything else I have said above then it will be quite clear that you can in fact compare the two, which was my (actual, not "implied") original argument
I want to give you the benefit of the doubt, but it really feels like you're just being deliberately obtuse. This is a discussion about the practical real-world economics of the situation, not a treatise on the nature of physical reality.
This is more like "protection" racket
And people would still like roads and schooling for their children whether the government provides it or not. It's interesting how even under our current system people still build these things privately.
It's entirely different, because those are under the control of the people. You (presumably) have a lot of protections when it comes to speaking your mind regarding those, and voting rights when it comes to electing the people who set those taxes.
Your fridge maker has no obligation to listen to you.
My ability to "vote" out my fridge is directly correlated with the thickness of my wallet. I, for one, would be disgusted to live in a society where that's equated with voting power.
You are not forced to pay taxes. Owning property and earning money are choices, if you wanna take it to this ridiculous extreme.
There are plenty of other options besides standard residential refrigerators. To start with you can avoid refrigerated goods altogether, or buy them as needed for each meal. You can use an icebox or one of the small portable fridges sold for camping and travel. You can buy a commercial model rather than something aimed at residential users. Or, finally, you can make your own—the basic principles of thermoelectric or compressor-driven refrigeration are very well-known and instructions are available online.
If you limit yourself to the most popular solutions right out of the gate, don't complain about your lack of choices. The prison you live in is of your own making; you have no one to blame but yourself.
Even if we were talking about something more basic, however, such as food in general rather than merely convenient cold food, there is a very big difference between being "forced" to provide something for yourself due to the nature of the universe and being forced to do something by the deliberate action (or threatened action) of another human being.
> Owning property and earning money are choices, if you wanna take it to this ridiculous extreme.
Nothing about owning property or earning money entitles anyone else to take a portion of your wealth or profits. Force is force, even if you might have avoided being victimized by acting differently. You have a right to do these things without asking anyone else's permission. If they step in afterward and demand that you pay them in response, they are forcing you to pay. As in: making unilateral demands and threatening the use of force against you if you don't comply.
That's it, the next one you install would be considered "new" and would work. Apparently the printers kept track of the cartridge IDs but had a short memory.
Refill all of them and use until they start leaking (so, years of constant refills). Simpler times.
My whirlpool fridge just makes an annoying high pitched beep when the filter’s been there for ~3 months. I get used it the noise but my wife hates it. It’s been beeping for 3 months now.
I could understand when they do it on so called loss leaders,where money comes from support or refills ( e.g printer), but when you pay a premium for what you think would be a high quality product and you get some weird crap,it just makes you hate brands.
I'm sorry Dave, I cannot refrigerate unauthorized milk for you.
GE is, historically, among the most anti-communist of all American companies. Its role in breaking and/or corrupting major unions and collective bargaining rights in the post-war era had few equivalents. GE, as well as the US patent system, exists in absolute service of the capitalist system.
If it really tastes that bad in a particular region, central filters that you install where the pipe enters the house are cheap. Just make sure to get one that you can use generic filter media with (ie it's basically just a tube of some standard size).
But, even with all that extra volume, is a central filter still cheaper? I'm thinking about a water softener soon, might as well throw that in.
As far as maintenance goes, my understanding is that the salt is dirt cheap. The new hassle I'm adding to avoid cleaning is lugging 40-lb. bags down to the basement, right?
I've never dealt with one before, so appreciate any insight there.
Depending on the problem you need a different filter. Fridge filters only solve the simple problems where the water isn't too bad in the first place.
Those things are absolutely not needed in countries with a modern water distribution network, they just bring added comfort.
City water definitely does not need to be filtered. Some people prefer the taste of filtered water, but there's no health reason requiring house filtration.
I'm in the middle of fixing my old GE fridge. Buried in it is a condensation trough made out of galvanized steel sheet metal. Eventually it rusts away and fridge will make a puddle. Replacement part is $60. Of all the things that could be made of plastic, this should be it..
It would be even funnier if there was a note at the top that said: "Note: this article was published posthumously by his wife. He died of contaminated water. The fridge tried to warn him."
And does this happen to other fridges (I see Samsungs in a few stores, for example, are they similarly crippled)?
Another gem from this site:
This website is best viewed with proper web browsers such as Lynx or Elinks.
C'mon. Don't make us Anti-DRM people look like utter lunatics.
I know it’s just a figure of speech. But having DRM on a fucking fridge filter is the most capitalistic idea that I have ever seen. Communists don’t do this.
DRM is a purely capitalistic endeavor and does show the dark side of unfettered capitalism.
I read The Moon is a Harsh Mistress as a teenager. Part of the techno-anarchy-libertarian (or whatever we call it) corpus for us nerds.
Now I want to read both, compare and contrast, against each other, and against the real world.
Although, to be fair: a capitalist fears nothing more than a truly free market.
What capitalists fear is a competitive or perfect market. But you'll never see anything close without strict policing of firms.
If you can't have maintainable moats, rent-seeking environments, or bought regulators/lawmakers, what's the point?
Something a lot of (North) Americans take for granted is that, after WWII, we had the only functioning manufacturing base in the world -- we were China before it was cool.
> in 1976, only two thirds of Soviet families had refrigerators
Surely not as widespread as in the US, but your view of the USSR might not correspond to reality.