The Name Game

I bought an RCA portable television a few years ago. RCA (the Radio Corporation of America) was once a powerful name in electronics, with RCA Victor tied to the Victrola (early mechanical record players). Their logo featured Nipper the dog listening to the Victrola horn for “The sound of his master’s voice.” RCA went on to form the National Broadcast Corporation (NBC) which was later split into the Red and Blue networks; the blue network ultimately became ABC (The American Broadcast Corporation).

In 1986, RCA was purchased by General Electric (“We squeeze life from good things”) and the RCA brand name is now used by Sony, Technicolor, Audiovox, and TCL Corporation (whoever they are). Have your lawyer call their lawyer, do lunch, and you can probably use it too—for a fee.

In any case, this brand name RCA television, which I had purchased to use primarily in case of power outages, needed a battery replacement. With my electronics background, I figured no problem—just unplug the existing battery pack and order a replacement lithium polymer battery.

Whoa! Not so fast, there.

This particular RCA product was manufactured by Intertek (a company every bit as well-known as TCL), so contacting RCA resulted in, “Sorry, we didn’t make that product.”

Intertek, apparently trying to emulate the “big boys” said, “Sorry, no battery available,” after all it was at least five years old.

There was a time when a name meant something, whether a family name or a company name. The House of Windsor. Angus Beef. Beefeater’s Gin. Rolls Royce. Luke Skywalker. Darth Vader. Imagine Harry Potter without Ollivander’s Wands or Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavor Beans.

Today names are just a commodity to be bought, sold, rented, or loaned as the market dictates.

So, thousands of electronic devices, full of hazardous materials (as well as recyclables, such as gold) end up in landfills because you can’t buy a replacement battery. Why? Because the name brand company neither manufactured nor stands behind the product; they merely accepted a fee to allow their name to be emblazoned on it.

It just might be something to think about when deciding whether to buy the name-brand item or the generic.

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One response to “The Name Game

  1. Bell and Howell has done this for years.

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