Found On Road Dead (Nearly)
     Almost everyone can tell an unhappy story about a really crummy product or about a company that makes really crummy products. For example, every one of the five Ford automobiles I owned caused me no end of problems, and one of them, a brand new '89 Bronco II, nearly killed me. Bronco IIs and their replacements, the Ford Explorer, actually killed a number of people and ruined scores of lives, but unsurprisingly, Ford Motor Company continually denied the vehicles have problems and claimed the victims are just poor drivers. Subsequent court settlements revealed that Ford knew otherwise, although as recently as August and September of 2010, Ford was still trying to avoid making good on its ethical and moral commitments.

The result of a sidewall blowout. A Ford salesman claimed I must have been drinking.

     Fortunately, for every negative there is usually a positive, and so almost everyone has a great story about a tool, appliance, or other durable good that not only exceeded their expectations, but did so to a surprising degree. In fact many companies make good quality products, but some companies make things of truly exceptional quality—the kinds of things one gets tired of long before they wear out. My 1993 Nissan Sentra was like that. I bought the car new and drove it into the ground, almost literally, before I traded it in 2005. I really was ready to be done with that car a long time before I got rid of it, but as long as it kept working, I wasn't going to buy a new one just for the sake of having something different. I've been told I can expect both my Toyota Corolla and Toyota Camry to go the same way, which suits me just fine.

National Presto Industries, Inc.
     Another great product we owned until last week was the Presto hot air popcorn popper shown below. I was going to donate it to Goodwill, but instead I dismantled it and sent it to the recycle center, not because it stopped working, but because it was more than 30 years old and I was a bit concerned about the electrical components failing and causing a fire in someone else's house. I truly hate our throw-away culture, but everything wears out eventually, and we'd more than got the value out of this appliance. Even so, we'd had the machine a long time and I almost felt bad 'putting it down.' Almost.

     According to the official National Presto Industries history, the PopCornNow® continuous corn popper introduced in 1978 "was among the first poppers to use hot air instead of hot oil to 'explode' kernels into crisp, plump puffs of popcorn." We were given the one in the picture as a gift in November 1980, and along with Orville Redenbacher® popping corn it became a constant in our home. Truth is, we would likely still be using the old workhorse if we hadn't learned that the newer Presto model (the PopLite®) does the same job in about 1/10th the time, with fewer burnt kernels. Given the benefit and the reasonable cost, trading up was an easy decision, but even better, I can confirm that it does exactly what it's shown to do in the video. If past performance is any indication, we'll likely be using the new popper for another 20 years at least. That will suit me just fine too.

The Ultimate Value of Quality
     Presto, PopCornNow, and PopLite are registered trademarks of National Presto Industries, Inc. Orville Redenbacher is a registered trademark of ConAgra Foods. Both Presto and ConAgra make good quality products and have good reputations, and I trust them both to continue to care about what really matters: quality, safety, and value. Because I trust them, I will continue to be a loyal customer of both until I am given a good reason to do otherwise. The same is pretty much true for Nissan and Toyota, in spite of their recent recall problems.

     My overall experience with Ford, on the other hand, was entirely negative, and I'd still rather own and drive a Trabant than any vehicle made by Ford or any of its subsidiaries. Moreover, I would love to see Ford go the way of Hudson, Checker, and American Motors Corporations, and I have been doing my best to help the company fail by showing people pictures of my flipped-over Bronco II and telling them how I was treated by Ford (and GEICO Insurance,* for that matter) after the accident. I also tell them how great my Nissan was, and how much I like my Toyota. In the end, I don't know for sure if I've convinced anyone to buy something other than a Ford, but I've been at it for more than twenty years and I expect to keep at it for at least another twenty. Odds are that I'm bound to have some effect on Ford sales, and just maybe I'll be the straw that breaks the camel's back.

     One can only hope.

Friends don't let Friends Drive Fords

[*GEICO immediately jacked up my insurance premiums quite a bit, even though the accident was caused by a rear-tire blowout, which caused the vehicle to go out of control. It wasn't until Farmers Insurance decided that the GEICO determination was wrong and gave me full coverage at preferred rates that GEICO agreed and refunded the excessive premiums. Also, GEICO tried to value the totaled vehicle at a much lower price than it would have cost to replace it, even though I'd owned it less than six months. When I argued, they insisted I get a statement from the dealer stating what it would cost to replace the vehicle. They expected the cost to have gone down, but that plan backfired because I'd got a pretty good deal, so the replacement cost was actually more than I'd paid. It would have cost GEICO less if they hadn't tried to cheat me because I'd have been happy with what I'd originally paid.

  Note: If anyone takes issue with what I've written about Ford or GEICO, be advised that I can prove most everything I've written here. I still have the letters, insurance reports, and police photos and report, and I would love nothing more than to add to the pile of evidence showing what sorry companies Ford and GEICO were (and probably still are), or making even more of it public. Really. ]

Update note: As of Oct 2020, the Presto PopLiteĀ® is still working perfectly, and the Toyotas outlasted me; both have been traded off, one for a 2018 Honda CR-V that I expect to last another 10 years, easy. By now, I'm certain I would have had to buy a couple of new cars to replace any Ford I'd have been stupid enough to buy in 2011, and as I expected, the trade-in value of the Toyotas was higher in relation to the original costs than any Ford from that time would have been.

     Updated 12 Sep 16 and 11 Oct 20
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