Temerity Jane
23. 06. 2011

You guys, Penny has nothing to do with this entry, but I feel as though my readership has split down the middle into “Shut up, show us the baby” and “Put your damn baby away and talk about something that doesn’t poop.” So. I compromise.

Ok, Internet. We all buy things. We buy all kinds of things. Sometimes, those things stop working. I mean, eventually. I guess everything stops working at some point. My mom’s got HER mom’s Kitchen Aid mixer and IT hasn’t stopped working, but I assume that the day will eventually come.

But normally, stuff stops working, and you hope it’s at some reasonable point. What I am wondering is this (are these?): what factors determine when it is acceptable for something to have stopped working, and what factors determine what you do about something that has stopped working?

I was thinking, when I was… thinking… before… that it’s obviously some combination of price and time. That is, how much it cost you to buy the whatever, and how long before it went all to hell.

Then I realized, though, that what the whatever is would probably have to factor in as well. Like, extreme examples:

Say you paid $1 for a can opener (one of those hand ones, not those fancy electric ones with the knife sharpener in the back that no one actually uses). If the can opener opened a single can and then fell apart in your hands, you’d be like, “Damn can opener! I’m glad I had but one can to open for my dinner this evening!” And then you’d move on. You wouldn’t sit there, stewing over your single sad can of tuna.

I don’t know why I’ve made you into some kind of weird loner who eats a tuna directly from a single can for dinner each night, while plotting your revenge against can opener manufacturers. I’m sorry.

If your can opener cost $10 and it broke on the first tuna can, you’d probably be pretty mad. You might even throw it on the floor in a rage, depending on how open you got the can and how badly you wanted that tuna.

“And TIIIIIIIIME… goes BY!… so sloooooowly…”

I should note here that not only do I not ever eat canned tuna, but when Phil dared eat some last week, I wouldn’t do the dishes for days until he handled the TUNA SINK. If you eat tuna in my house and then you rinse off your plate in the sink, any dishes already in the sink and any dishes added to whatever is already in the sink is NOT MY PROBLEM until YOU handle the TUNA SINK. Your best bet is to handle it post haste, or you will be washing every dish in the house, because I take tuna contamination seriously.

Anyway, if your $10 can opener last 4 or 6 or 8 months and broke, you probably wouldn’t think anything of chucking it and getting a new one, because by that time, you’d probably have forgotten how much you paid for your can opener, and you’d probably never really given any thought to how long you expected a can opener to last.

But say your can opener – a hand crank dealie – cost $30. What would you do then if it broke on the first can? Or what would you do if it broke 6 months down the road? Because I imagine that if you spend $30 on a hand crank can opener, every time you have some tuna, you think to yourself, “I’m opening my tuna with my $30 can opener.” Because how could you NOT?

BUT. What if you bought a car that cost $30? And it broke on the first time out? You’d be like, “Ah, well. Who expects much from a $30 car? I mean, Laura Ingalls Wilder would probably expect a lot from a $30 car but she could buy plow parts for a nickle, so. You know. It’s all relative.”

And if your $30 car last SIX MONTHS? You’d probably high five yourself all the way home, even if it was kind of raining and you had to wait a while for a ride. It would be hard to be too mad about that.

So, I figure it’s obviously not just a matter of what an item cost and how long it lasts, but obviously also of what the item is.

So, say the item is… a something you use regularly. Let’s say a fancy TV clicker. Something you’re using multiple times a day, and you didn’t really need the fancy one, but you figured, “Hey, I use this a lot, I’m going to spring for the nice one,” even though it was kind of slightly out of your comfortable price range. You’ve treated yourself to a small bit of luxury, is what I’m saying. It doesn’t have to be a clicker. Maybe it’s… one of those beady seat covers, like in taxis. Whatever. Just go with me.

So, think of your item and assign it a price that is slightly more than you’d normally consider paying for such a thing, and remind yourself that you’ve decided that something you use so constantly is worth a little extra cash sometimes. And you know what? You’re worth it, too. Anyway, you need to think up your own item for this scenario. Think it up now. This is an exercise. I’m not going to tell you an item, you need to THINK OF ONE.

So you’ve paid for your item, whatever it is, and it falls just over the line into “luxury” due to its price, and that line is different for everyone and every item, which is why you needed to come up with your own.

Now, how long do you expect this item to last? More importantly, where’s the line between breaking due to normal wear and tear, and breaking due to oh HELL no? You know what I mean? Like, if your item wears out at the very earliest that “wearing out” could be even slightly reasonable, that would be really annoying, but what are you going to do? It wore out. But anything BEFORE what is even remotely reasonable for wearing out, based on item and money spent, would fall into the “oh HELL no” category, where you’d be totally outraged about the money spent for item enjoyment duration.

And still thinking of your item, now combined with your general personality traits, what do you DO when something falls into the “oh HELL no” category of breaking? I think this is not so much a function of price and time, but more of each individual person.

Do you get mad and go out and replace it?

Do you get REALLY mad and swear you’ll never buy that brand again and go out and replace it with a different variety?

Do you write to the company and tell them, hey, your thing broke, WELL before the “oh HELL no” time period of thing ownership was up, what do you intend to do about it?

As you may have guessed by now, this is about me, because, come on.

Come on.

I’ve never been a “write to the company-er.” I don’t know why. I mean, I’ve had plenty of things break in the “oh HELL no” phase, just like anyone else. I guess I kind of feel like writing a letter to the company or whatever would make me look… greedy? Grabby? I don’t know. But it WOULDN’T, not if I was writing within the “oh HELL no” time period, because things breaking that quickly is unreasonable.

Basically, I am concerned about what strangers at a company that manufactures the occasional faulty product might think of me. But maybe THEY should be afraid of what I think about THEM! And their faulty product!

(They probably don’t care.)

“Are you… still MIIIIIIIIIIIiiiiii-IIIIIIeeeeeIIINE?”

I have an item that, for my entire pregnancy, I intended to buy but did not. The price, for me, put it just over the line I talked about above, and since there were several varieties available, I felt like I needed to really think it out and make sure I NEEDED this product before purchasing. I’m not going to tell you what it IS, because what I consider over that line and what other people consider over that line are two different things, and I don’t need anyone being all, “Come on! It’s only $XX!”

You know how when you read a magazine and they do a whole page of “MUST HAVES FOR SUMMER! If you don’t have these MUST HAVES, you might as well go live in a hole! Don’t worry, though, we’ve divided them into splurge and save!”

Bathing suit: $1 jillion!
Save on this clearly crappier version: $1 half jillion!

And you go through the whole list, looking for SOME MUST HAVE that you can actually HAVE and you finally get to something that seems like it should be reasonable.

Nail polish in the color you HAVE TO HAVE OR YOU’LL DIE FRIENDLESS AND ALONE: $80
Save on this version that might get you a pity friend, if you always volunteer to DD: $65

Anyway, you see what I mean? I’m not telling the item because I don’t need you to tell me that it’s actually a SAVE, because NO. I DECIDE WHAT IS A SAVE.

This item is showing signs of wear – signs of wear that, over time, I’d consider pretty reasonable. However. Penny is still a week short of 2 months old, AND I’ve only been using this item with as it is INTENDED to be used for a couple of weeks. For me, for what this item cost and the fact that I have used it in a perfectly reasonable, perfectly textbook manner, I am still WELL within the “oh HELL no” phase.

Now, knowing me, I’ll continue using it until it is unusable, which isn’t that far off, judging by the signs now, then try to use it in some modified fashion, and then feel like I should replace it out of my own pocket because I used it for so long, EVEN THOUGH it was in CRAP ASS condition for most of that time. I am TRYING to convince myself to write a letter, because, what can they do to me?

(It seems I kind of half-assume they might write back some strongly worded “fuck you, sucker!” letter, which is a little out there in terms of assumptions about what a reasonable company might do, but I can’t help it – the mind leaps to irrational conclusions as it wants to.)

Anyway, forget my thing. My thing is stupid. Go back to your hypothetical thing. How do you determine how long your “oh HELL no” phase is? Are you a letter writer or an angry replacer? Have you ever gotten decent results from writing a letter, or did you get the dreaded “fuck you, sucker!” email?

Do you believe this shit? My mom’s such a wiener!

68 responses to “What do you do when your crap starts being crappy?”

  1. Sarah Bakker says:

    As someone who sells stuff (meat at a farmers’ market), I would much rather have someone complain nicely than just stop buying from me. I’ve replaced roasts that the buyer has cooked incorrectly just for the good will. If you don’t complain, how do I know what’s wrong?

  2. Doing My Best says:

    Ooooo, I recently had an experience with this sort of situation, and I was VERY surprised with the way it turned out (usually when I politely email a company they make some effort to remedy the problem)! I had bought a certain brand (cough*shouldImentionnames?*cough) of baby shoes from one of those daily baby bargain websites; I bought them ahead of time, so I would have them when the baby would need them. The shoes’ NORMAL price was WAY OUT of what I would normally pay, but with the daily deal and the company’s claim of “Sturdy, tight stitching for dependable performance – Guaranteed!”, I decided to try them. My baby wore them for about ONE MONTH before the velcro wasn’t working anymore. ONE MONTH. (I will mention here, for comparison, that I still have shoes that were worn by 2 or 3 of his brothers that HAVE NOT WORN OUT, and I specifically remember another pair of child’s VERY FAVORITE shoes with a velcro fastening in which the velcro did not wear out until the end of the 2nd child who was wearing them.) So, I politely emailed the company and told them how much I had been enjoying those shoes, and how surprised I was that the velcro had worn out already, and that I thought they might like to know that. They replied that they had NEVER had that problem with any of their shoes before and wanted to know where I got them. I told them where I bought them, and the company told me I should take it up with the bargain website. I told them that the bargain website didn’t manufacture the shoes, so I didn’t think they should have to take care of the problem. But I did contact the bargain website who told me that, even though the baby had only been wearing the shoes for a month, the return period time had passed (Way to punish those who plan ahead! And I can see how people could lie about something like that, but tiny baby shoes? Babies grow fast!). I replied back to the company and asked if they could replace the velcro if I sent the shoes in. THEN, and this is my FAVORITE part, they replied and said that velcro wearing out had “never been an issue” with their shoes before, so the trouble must be with “use of the sandal” AND “You were able to purchase two pair for less than a retail price of one pair-which is an amazing savings and deal for you!” AND “We’re very sorry about this and hope you’ll realize that you did get an amazing bargain on the [shoes].” First of all, I do not consider putting the baby’s sandals on his feet before he goes outside any sort of inappropriate use of the sandal. And secondly, what part of paying half price for a product that does not last as long as it is supposed to, thus necessitating buying that product AGAIN, is supposed to help me realize that I got an “amazing bargain”? It is NOT an “amazing savings”, a “great deal”, or an “amazing bargain”; it is more an example of “beware of low prices” and “you get what you pay for”.
    This situation reminds me QUITE A BIT of the Nook customer service people!

  3. Megan says:

    I’ve had surprising good luck with e-mailing stores and companies. I almost always get a coupon or the item replaced..even if it is several months old. And of Nod and Sensational Beginnings were especially good.

    I had the opposite experience with Target . I once left two cans of formula at the store. They checked the security cameras and saw that I was telling the truth and gave me the formula.

    I also returned two car seats to Babies R Us- no receipt, no boxes. I basically told the manager I used them for two months and I hated them. When he found out I wanted to buy the most expensive car seats the had, he took them back no problem.

    Megan Reply:

    Supposed to say “land” of Nod

  4. Carrie says:

    So, I’ve only ever written a note to one company about a product, and it’s kind of silly, but it was a package of animal crackers I got out of the vending machine at work. Now, you probably know as well as I do that there’s a difference between animal CRACKERS and animal COOKIES, right? Well, before this they’d been perfectly acceptable animal crackers. Puffy, round, elephants with giant oval trunks, perfect.

    I went back to the machine one day to get some, and the package was the same, except it said something about “new better taste”. Hey great, I don’t know how you can improve animal crackers, but I’ll give it a go. And I opened the bag, grabbed one, and sitting in my hand was an animal COOKIE. I took a bite, and I got pissed. I might as well have driven to McDonald’s and gotten some McDonaldland cookies, because that is exactly how it tasted.

    So I wrote them. I was like, hey guys, this really isn’t an animal cracker, you know? And I got this nice polite response about how they’d done a study, and this “new taste” had won out over the old one, and here’s a coupon.

    I left it at that, but in my head I was like, “Really, a coupon? I just told you that I don’t LIKE these cookies masquerading as animal crackers, and you want to give me a coupon for when I buy more. Well guess what, lady, I’m not going to BUY more, because I didn’t LIKE them. I will go to the store and get some REAL animal CRACKERS and you can stick that coupon somewhere and give yourself a nice paper cut, ok?”

    I can’t believe I just wrote that much about a bag of animal crackers. I think I need to get out more.

  5. sister says:

    of first of all… “clicker” is just NOT how we grew up. did phil do this to you? do you want me to talk to him for you? it is a REMOTE.
    also, our VERY expensive flat screen has only been in our house for 7 months & it is already on its decline. i have been writing many angry letters in my brain about it.
    AND penny seems to have really developed her singing skills since i left. she is amazing, you can tell she is singing from the heart.
    i will be at the laundromat for most of the morning soooo SKYPE DATE WITH PENNY???

  6. Aziatic says:

    I write or call in if I am sufficiently angry.

    The last incident was with Weber. I bought one of their rib racks, which was more expensive than some, but it was “made” for my grill.

    The handle came off during the FIRST use.

    Called, was polite and ended up with a free new rack in a few days.

    Can’t hurt to try :)

  7. […] AN UPDATE! On my thing that broke? Well, it was my My Brest Friend pillow, which I have heartily recommended to many […]

  8. Cindyloo says:

    So, after reading through the blog archive, I am thinking this is about… Drumroll please… Your my Brest Friend Pillow! Am I right???