Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Taiwanese Mentality: If it ain't broke, wait until it's totally run down

This is not my scooter but it is typical of many scooters here in Taiwan... very beat!

I went to get the headlight on my scooter repaired recently and I had a strange conversation with the mechanic. Stupid me, only the low beam bulb was dead. The high beam actually still worked. Didn't even occur to me to try it.

So the mechanic shows me this and asks me if I want to change the bulb, a real low expense. I ask him why not. He says I might just want to use the high beam until that burns out too. !!!

This got me thinking about people going around Taiwan with their high beams on all the time. Could they just be trying to get their money's worth, squeezing the last drops of the utility out of a light? For a Westerner, the question of whether to change it or not would not be an issue. But it is in Taiwan...

And this got me thinking about maintenance in general. It's funny that there seems to be two standards. Scooters are basically run into the ground before repairs are made while cars get (fairly) great treatment. I guess it has to do with the investment. Small ticket items are considered write-offs while big ticket items are valuable. Think about how many times someone might switch their cell-phone or MP3 player compared to a computer.

All I can say is the Taiwanese value system is completely different and places different value on things than we do. Small price items are disposable and easy to replace. Big price items are little trickier.
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