Thrifty Tip #20: Avoid Products with Consumable Parts

A few years ago I bought a highly recommended Miele vacuum cleaner.  The vacuum cleaner works a treat.  The only problem I have had with it is the high cost of replacement vacuum cleaner bags.  I now wish I had purchased a bagless model.

Whether it's bags for the vacuum cleaner, printer cartridges that cost almost as much as the printer, 'pod' coffee machines that require the purchase of brand-name coffee pods, or Swiffer mops that require special replacement pads, canny businesses can make a killing out of products with consumable parts or accessories.

The business model where one item is sold at a low price  in order to increase sales of a complementary good is called the razors and blades model.

According to Investopedia:
The Razor/Razorblade business model owes its name to one King Gillette, founder of the eponymous razorblade company. The story goes that Gillette's idea for creating disposable razors stemmed from his personal experience with a straight razor so worn it was rendered useless. Gillette reasoned - and rightly so - that if he could offer consumers a sturdy, permanent razor supplemented by cheap, easily replaceable blades, he could corner the men's facial grooming market and create a massive, repeat customer base.
While a great idea for the businesses that create these products, constantly having to pay for replacement parts is a bad idea for consumers, and an even worse idea for the environment.

Wouldn't it be lovely to return to a world where goods were made to last and "razors and blades" marketing was unknown?

This post is part of my series, Thirty Days of Thrifty Tips.

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