Mrs Green blows a gasket

Filed in Blog by on December 8, 2011 14 Comments
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The lesson of the paper shredder

The lesson of the paper shredder

Granddad Green’s nickname is “Eyeore”.

If there’s a problem to be had or a pessimistic though to be shared, Granddad Green is your man.  If he hasn’t got something to worry about, he’ll create something.It does have its benefits however.

One such benefit was that I was gifted a paper shredder by him. I think he had read a story about identity theft and didn’t want that happening to me. So he bought us both one.

It made filing and getting rid of old papers a breeze and with my article on “7 ways to recycled shredded paper” you’ll know that a bag full of shredded paper can be put to good use.

As you know, I’ve been busy decluttering my office recently. I had diaries and bank statements dating back to 1998 which needed disposing of, so I got out my trusty paper shredder.

I recycled stuff which didn’t contain personal details and sat on the dining room floor one rainy afternoon shredding the rest.

It took me over three hours to complete the job (it was a procrastination job after all) and I vowed, as I was sitting there in amongst a pile of paper, that I’d set up the shredder next to my desk and from now on would shred things on an ‘as and when’ basis, rather than leaving it as a huge job to build up.

The shredder got a bit slower, a bit noisier, a bit smellier but it still manfully stood up to the job.

Finally I gave a smile of delight as I shredded the last bank statement.

However, being bitten by the bug and all that, I decided to whizz through my filing cabinet the following morning to finish the job. I wanted to keep my new resolution in mind and shred on a regular basis after all.

With just a small pile of statements to get rid of I switched on the shredder and…


No click, no buzz, but more worryingly no menacing teeth grinding around ready to shred my paper.

I checked the fuse, the plug, the lead for bunny nibbles and anything else I could think of checking. It was all perfect.

I turned the shredder over and there was the message I didn’t want to see. Apparently this machine wasn’t for my kind of usage at all – you had to use it for ONE minute then let it rest for fifteen minutes! I calculated I’d probably be sitting there shredding to 2012 at that rate.

I came to the stark realisation my three hour marathon stint the previous day had blown the motor.

All was not lost I figured. As I live with Mr Fix It, I’d buy a new motor and get it mended – repairing at its best.

I wrote to the company asking for the cost of the replacement motor and you’ve guessed it:

Thank you for your e-mail.

Unfortunately this unit is a non-serviceable product and no spares are available

Wow! A NON-SERVICEABLE PRODUCT? In other words a crap product not actually designed to shred more than a couple of pieces of paper a month, with built in obsolescence that will soon become landfill fodder…

I think I’ll stick to burning my paper in the future. At least I’ll get warm at the same time.

Tell me, what item have you tried to repair without success?

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (14)

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  1. Colleen says:

    Hi Mrs Green,
    it is truly annoying when products don’t live up to one’s expectations and even worse when they aren’t even built well to do the job they are supposed to do or just poorly designed. But in your case I have decided that perhaps you need to be the cup half full kinda gal. Consider this experience as a lasting message to keep your paper clutter under control in the future. I guarantee that every time you see paper piling up you will think of that shredder and be annoyed all over again. Let that annoyance remind you to stay on top of the job and at least then something good will have come out of the whole experience.

    It may not be easy but it is always better to look on the bright side.

  2. Jane says:

    Exasperated by watching my man tear papers into tiny little bits by hand when he could have used my shredder I urged him to use it. So when I wasn’t there he did and tried to put a whole load of paper in at the same time. (Another problem with home shredders is that only a certain few pieces of paper at a time may be recommended and NO staples.) Also shredders need to be oiled. You can either buy or make your own oiled paper to run through the machine. So check yours before it seizes up due to lack of oil!

    With the teeth all crooked I’m afraid I didn’t even try to get it mended (but I did dismantle it to have a look)! However I now still use the ‘basket’ with a new shredder that just rests across it which helped.

    There is so much difference between home shredders and office ones that you do have to question whether all home ones are fit for purpose before you buy.

  3. with sympathy in mind, i can only contribute only one item to your list of non serviceable products for which no replacement parts are available at the moment: i used it till the wheels kept making grinding noises and the cortex needed fish oil…alas my brain was smoking and moot, till restorative refund!

  4. joddle says:

    Products built to break make me so angry.

    How many times have I fallen for buying electronic crap from Argos? No matter what it is, it always breaks.

    We need a change in policy so that manufacturers are legally obliged to stock / sell replacement parts for their junk

  5. Julie Day says:

    Ours did the same thing the other day. We tried to undo it and get all the bits out that were stuck but still no joy. So we ended up buying another one.

  6. Dandelion says:

    I have a special collection of useful tools for unblocking the shredder, a metal crochet hook being the most useful. It blocks itself up at least once a month, despite careful feeding in of paper, and watching how long I use it for. At least this shredder has lasted longer than the first! My shredded paper goes into the chickens’ nesting box – I wouldn’t be without the shredder, but it is like a delicate child!

  7. Jane says:

    Have you oiled your shredder? I don’t ever remember reading that I had to… and I know it never crossed my mind – although it should have done.

  8. Jane says:

    I’ve heard complaints about Magimix mixing bowls not lasting and not being able to buy them without the machine. Has anybody else heard this/had this problem?

  9. Jo says:

    Another way to get rid of sensitive papers (and this one is non-polluting) is to soak them in a sinkful or bucket of water until they are mushy. Use your hands to mush them if necessary. Then squeeze out most of the water. At this point you can make something of papier mache if you are crafty. Unfortunately you can’t recycle it after doing this, but you could compost it.

    Once you get the paper backlog dealt with, a pair of scissors can be used instead of a shredder. However, this is not a viable option for big jobs.

    It is definitely annoying to have the machine be so wimpy as to only shred a few sheets before needing a rest, and to not be able to buy parts!

  10. Your experience is exactly why I decided I did not want a shredder before I ever had my wish come true. The senior center here in town has free shredder use for seniors. I bopped myself down there with a bag I could barely carry after a decluttering event. I had phone bills for the last thirty years, etc. As I used the shredder, it was getting smelly. Since I knew this was not a good sign, I figured I had better not even think about getting a shredder.

    Now, my bank offers free shredding to members. I take a bag that hold two gallons filled to the top with papers. The bank officers have a normal sized trash can under their desks. The waste basket is locked and everything in it will be shredded. The tall can in the stairwell is the size people put out for the garbage pickup each week. All locked office waste baskets are emptied in to this locked con. A truck then comes and takes the locked trash cans to an industrial-sized shredder. About once a month, I visit the bank with a bag or bags of shredding.

    Before the experience with the shredder at the senior center, my only experience was a shredder at work. It was the size of a Volkswagen, only shorter. I could drop a one inch stack of papers with paper clips and car fenders. The monster shredder never slowed, just groaned and revved up and made short work of anything.

    I will never own a shredder.

    Not repairable thing–curling iron.

  11. Augh! How frustrating! I hear you. But trying to find products that have replaceable parts isn’t easy. It’s as if they create them so that you HAVE to turn around and buy another. Such a disposable society. (Sigh.) I say we boycott the companies. Easier said than done, though….no one seems to listen. I’m so discouraged. Let me know how you do on your month of buying only what you need. I can’t find it on the site. But maybe I did’nt look hard enough….let me know! I’m 100% behind you and SO PROUD of you!

  12. Rachel says:

    I use an electric shaver (solar-powered battery charger, before you ask!). They used to make them with replaceable foils. They don’t any more. This makes me very cross!

  13. Caroline says:

    On the repairable electrical goods note, I had to change our toaster a while back and was really pleased to find that Dualit ones have lots of replaceable parts should anything break down – probably the same with their other goods too. Was very impressed ( and it works really well too)

  14. Jane says:

    Cars – well I know that we’re better not using them but even so many of us do some of the time. I am concerned that the new MOT rules may mean that cars will be scrapped because of faulty warning lights on the dashboard rather than the actual faults themselves. Computer says…

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