A User Perspective On Technology Obsolescence And Its Impact On Home Owners

A User Perspective On Technology Obsolescence And Its Impact On Home Owners

The authorities need to define extensively the term obsolescence and incorporate appropriate changes in consumer protection laws to safeguard consumer’s interest

Rajnikant LadUpdated: Tuesday, December 26, 2023, 02:11 PM IST
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Every industry that depends on technology has to face obsolescence issues. If not managed timely and effectively, obsolescence will have a negative impact on your business. I am not against development / changes or improvement. But my main concern is the consumers who are forced to face inconvenience and bear unwanted / unexpected cost burden because of the same.

Just recall your childhood, where you might have enjoyed a table fan working for decades or the refrigerator working for years together. Just imagine if some parts of your television, refrigerator, washing machine or any such item goes out of order and the service provider or company says that this product is outdated and you will have to go for a completely new one.

A small component replacement, which could have been done in a few hundred rupees, forced you to spend thousands of rupees against the purchase of a new product. The Indian elevator industry, is also facing the same issue. In absence of clear guidelines and rules the consumer has to go through unwanted harassment and financial losses.

The consumer must be able to use the product at least for its claimed designed life cycle. Particularly in the case of the elevator industry the life of an elevator is considered as 15-20 years. This means the elevator should perform well till the end of its designed life cycle and the manufacturer/ supplier must provide services and spares throughout its life cycle.

We come across a number of instances where a customer is forced to spend a huge amount towards replacement of major parts to match with the latest design. A number of times the customer is forced to pay for the modification carried out in the system made by the supplier based upon their product performance feedback, which they receive from the market.

It is a common practice by the supplier to replace the controller panel along with wiring, landing operating panel (lop), cabin operating panel (cop), shaft switches as a modification package irrespective of their individual item’s lifespan.

We can understand that the controller has crossed the life cycle or has become obsolete. But how come the wiring, shaft witches, or buttons which have much longer life are required to be replaced? Can’t we think of having a new controller compatible with the existing one and can be installed by a simple plugin system without changing any other parts.?

Every business house thinks of increased turnover and increased profit and it is their right but with some riders. I came across companies who forced customers to go for changes in just 10-12 years old elevators at a very heavy cost to the customers. It seems they consider frequent change in technology as their important business module, instead of focusing on new sales or services.

On the other hand, I have seen companies who are providing the services and spares for their elevators which are as old as 20-25 years. In absence of government guidelines, the suppliers /manufacturers must work out some basic principles for required changes and their implementation without putting the consumer under any financial burden.

We need to think and work out the best by feasible and economical solutions for the questions raised. We need to find out answers to the following questions in the interest of users/ consumers.

With the change in product design what one should do with the existing one?

Is there any defined life cycle for any specific product?

Are there any government guidelines to introduce new design products and withdraw old technology products?

Are there any government guidelines for availability of spares for the old design products?

How the user’s interest in safeguarded during such technology changeover period?

Are there any guidelines for product life span?

Can we say that the high-quality products are designed with a shorter lifespan to create space for sale of new products?

The authorities need to define extensively the term obsolescence and incorporate appropriate changes in consumer protection laws to safeguard consumer’s interest. In fact, the manufacturer/ supplier must provide a guarantee confirming that they will provide spares and services to the elevator supplied by them throughout its life cycle as declared by them.

(The writer is an elevator auditor, founder of the Elevator Safety Forum India, plus an active member of the National Safety Council and Society for Reliability and Safety)

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