Have you noticed how more and more products are being sold broken…right out of the box? Case in point, my recent purchase of a Black & Decker 18-inch 12-amp electric mulching lawn mower (Model MM575).

Assembly was straightforward and within 15 minutes I was ready to mow the lawn. Or, so I thought. A quick tweak of the wheel height adjustment lever and I was holding the wheel height adjustment lever in my hand. Likewise, the mower dropped to the ground and was unable to cut a single blade of grass. Broken—right out of the box.

I traced the problem to a single chintzy rivet that had been sheared off during the factory’s assembly of the mower. No matter, I had two choices: return the mower or repair the mower. I chose to repair the mower. Aside from wasting gasoline to return it, I just couldn’t bear the thought of another manmade product being cast into some landfill somewhere. So, into the repair shop I pushed my next bastard product.

The rivet was drilled out and a bolt/nut was used to simulate its function. Elapsed time 2 hours, cost about one buck. Now back to the lawn.

While the height adjustment lever now worked flawlessly, the plastic indentations used for holding the lever at the selected position were too darn slippery. One push of the mower and the lever would drop down to the lowest height setting. Back to the repair shop.

Unlike the broken rivet, this repair was much faster and easier—an elastic bungee cord was stretched between the adjustment lever and the opposing handle bar. There you have it, another quality product fixed, right out of the box.

Now let’s mow. —Dave Prochnow