OK – this hit me yesterday.

Below is a toilet seat I bought last year, around Thanksgiving.


The mounting setup uses some kind of plastic camlock mechanism. You still have to use pliers to swap it out, but then you drop the seat on and lock the cams to hold it in place. By New Years 2015, I had already been forced to use epoxy to hold it, as you can see in the inset photo – the camlock failed. As of yesterday, the plastic hinge broke – requiring replacement, as they do not sell replacement hinges (I hate plastic anyway). This seat cost me $46 a little over a year ago.

I bought this one today, for $32 (2nd photo). It was THE ONLY SEAT that had non-plastic hinges and non-camlock attachment!


I have no idea why an engineer went from a metal hinge to a plastic one, except for cost. I have no idea why toilet seats are all going to camlock widgets that break more easily except for faster obsolescence. The same tools and time are required to make the swap.

There is also a downside to the camlock fittings – they hold pee and any other toilet area detritus that happens to get around them. If you spray toilet cleaner or 409 or such on them, then it lubes the camlock and makes them pop loose in a few uses of the seat. If they don’t break, then they pop loose, and you have to re-attach the camlock widget about every month when the wife yells, “Honey….!”

So from where I am (not) sitting, it looks to me like we have a new ‘standard’ for toilet seat attachment that costs us more, does not last nearly as long, attracts and holds human waste, partially breaks and then finally breaks completely within a little over a year.

Now even if you think that Oilman2 is just completely full of s&%t, I honestly just don’t use the toilet enough in a year to do this kind of damage. Further, the other 2 toilets in my house have the old-school setup, and are going on 7-10 years without a hitch.

So for this type of oh-so-awesome engineering excellence, I am coining a new term for those of us who must buy toilet seats or anything else that just seems ever more complex, stupid and breakable.



  • intentionally designed to fail qucikly, require rapid replacement and increase shareholder corporate value
  • designed by a group of bored engineers to be different but of questionable value
  • designed for lowest possible cost with no service life objective
  • design that has zero place in a sustainable world….




Hyper-Obsolescence? — 4 Comments

  1. I am a retired broadcast engineer, but I have known engineers in many fields. My father was a master plumber, and a friend of mine was an engineer for GM. For a LONG time companies have designed and tested products to make them to last so many cycles or periods of time. Just like your vehicles oil (5k miles or 6 months)a product is made to make $$$$$$, not to last. It is so bad, that is one of the reasons I retired early. Companies have NO PRIDE!

    • You are right – but we can inculcate that pride of construction and accomplishment in our kids and associates simply by insisting on it and doing it ourselves. There are myriad reasons that things have gone downhill for products, globalism being the primary one. But we can make choices to offset that with our billfolds and our insistence on buying better even when it costs more. Buying simpler when complexity always introduces more failure points.

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