Slow cookers were once an item that outlived their owners. My mother and aunt both received one as wedding presents 40 years ago, and they've since passed them on to their children (in working condition).
I bought this large Hamilton Beach unit in the fall of 2010 and it didn't even give me a year of service. It started out great: I loved the huge capacity, the removable cook-pot, the see-through lid and the stainless steel look. And I loved how well it did what it was meant to do. And then one day I go to cook up some chili, set it on high and come back 6 hours later to find that it's not even bubbling? Suddenly the cooker can't even bring anything to simmer. I bought this thing to make meals not waste ingredients, so what choice did I have but to throw it in the trash.
One side of me says "they don't make 'em like they used to" and the other side of me says "we're living in an age of cheap, disposable goods... what did you expect". You've got to draw the line somewhere though, and when it comes to slow cookers I expect a lifetime of service. That was once a realistic expectation, and hopefully with my next slow cooker purchase (not Hamilton Beach) it will be true once more.
The question for you, reading this review, is how prevalent is this problem? Did this guy just get a lemon? Is one brand built any differently than another (i.e. with longevity in mind)? I wish I knew the answer, just like you.