Buy It For Life

A few weeks ago, I called a customer who had recently purchased a computer from us. She explained that she'd configured a new system to run Adobe Creative Cloud to support her business. I brought up her profile and noticed she'd purchased a computer from us back in 2008. I said, "Did the last computer we built for you finally stop working?" 

"No, it's working great. I just needed something more powerful so I passed it down to my mother who uses it for email and Facebook." 

A closer look at the notes on the older system showed that we'd installed a larger primary hard drive about three years ago. But outside of a few questions about Windows 7, not a single repair ticket had been opened in nearly eight years of use. 

We take pride in building computer that last, but I was still impressed her computer had given her 8 years of trouble-free service. I began to wonder what products I own that fit the profile: 

  • 8+ years of ownership
  • Daily use
  • Trouble-free operation

I spent some time walking around my home, and I realized that most of what I own is only a few years old. Turn on the TV, and we're constantly bombarded with messages that what we have is too old or just not good enough. There's usually some magic feature that will transform our lives for the better that's only found in the latest model. You need this today because it's faster, sleeker, lighter or more  powerful. 

During my search I came across products I've had for a few years, but most of them are not ones I use each day. But I did find a few: 

Timbuk2 Messenger Bag – I purchased this bag in 1999, and still use it nearly everyday to carry around my laptop and headphones when I leave my house. My bag is an incredibly boring green and brown, but I don't care. It gets the job done. 

ZWILLING J.A. Henckels Knives – I brought a set of the Four Star series knives home from a business trip to Stuttgart, Germany. That was back in 1997 and they get used every day. I've had the knives professionally sharpened a few times, and they are still remarkably balanced in my hand today. Last year I sent the tomato knife in for repair, and ZWILLING replaced it with a newer model at no charge. 

Honda Odyssey – I put just over 200,000 miles on this van over the course of 10 years. Outside of regular maintenance, it was the most reliable car I've owned. Given the long trips we take during the summer, I decided to replace it last November. With a newer Odyssey. 

Dualit Classic Toaster – My spouse couldn't believe I paid over $100 for a toaster, but this one has lasted 12 years and shows no signs of slowing down. I like that the heating elements aren't exposed so my son, who tried to extract a bagel with a butter knife, didn't electrocute himself. Get the red model if you dare. 

I've recommended each of these products to friends and family. If they finally do need to be replaced, I won't hesitate to purchase them again. 

The oldest computer I own is a Puget Systems Serenity. I upgraded the primary drive to an SSD and installed an NVIDIA GTX 960 so that I could run three monitors and play a game called Firewatch. As much as I enjoy it, it's only half way to the 8-year threshold. 

If you're like me, you might enjoy the Buy it For Life group on Reddit. I also read the Wirecutter for gadget reviews and the Sweethome for home related products. 

What products have you purchased that have withstood the test of time?