Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Throwaway Society

I've once again been reminded that our society fixes fewer and fewer machines.  For example my walker (Matilda - as in Walking Matilda, walking Matilda, you'll come a walking,Matilda,with me) is beginning to show some wear on the rear wheels.  Not serious yet but it appears the wheels will go before the rest of the system.  So I decided to try to find replacement wheels.

The first place was where we purchased the walker - Big Lots!  Of course they carry no spare parts and don't even have the walker in stock.  Next, medical equipment stores.  They expressed surprise at seeing the walker because they had never seen one like it before.  One dealer even thought it was illegal for Big Lots! to be selling such equipment.  I was clearly not going to get help there.

In the meantime I had been surfing the web and finding out that COSCO is more of a generic brand than a manufacturer.  And there are layers and layers to this company.  But I couldn't nail down a real bricks and mortar address or someone to call. Finally, I retrieved the "warrantee" that came with the walker (which the instructions called a "rollator" but gave no other identifying information such as a model number or parts supplier.  It did, however, give the phone number to call if the rollator was somehow defective.

I called the company, asked for the parts department, and ended up speaking with a nice, patient, eager-to-help woman who sounded like she really wanted to find some wheels for me.  But, like my searches, her efforts were fruitless even after she convinced the two of us that she had found the right model number.  She confirmed what I already was convinced of -- there were no spare parts anywhere for this walker.  Her only suggestion was to buy another walker like this one and use this one for spare parts for the new one.  And according to her records the only retailer still carrying this walker was ... Big Lots!!  I had come full circle!


  1. Can you get Steven to graft on a set of wheels from some other purpose? He might be able, say, to drill through the legs of the walker and mount some rollerblade wheels on that way.

  2. We could probably find wheels that could be made to fit. Just doing a quick search at Home Depot I found something like this:
    that might work.

    I run into this kind of problem a lot at work, I either can't find parts for our antiquated instruments or the company wants far too much money for the replacement. So I end up taking it apart, see what the part is and find it myself. One of my favorite examples is a lamp for a detector. The official replacement part was ~$70, I saw that it was a standard halogen bulb, and picked it up at ACE for $8.

    So if its worth it to you when the wheels do go, I'm sure we can find something.