Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Made to Sell (But Not to Use)

A number of items we've purchased in recent years have not exactly lived up to their hype.

So I'm going to complain.

Companies really don't care if the product they sell to you actually works, because they have your money. Their warranties are often worthless or so convoluted that most folks won't bother with them. Items are made to fall apart at day 92 when you have a 90-day warranty. Count on it.

Additionally, things are made in such a manner that they are not easily handled or easy to care for. And woe unto you if you are an older adult, or female (or both) because few things are made with you in mind.

Most things are made for males age 20-30. The rest of us be damned.

Some of the items that have frustrated me lately include:

Tools. These always irritate me because they are big, bulky, hard to start (women in general have poor upper body strength and trying to pull-start a mower is next to impossible) and generally not made with women's smaller hands and lesser strength in mind. Is it really so hard to make a decent weed eater that a woman can handle, one that actually cuts the grass and doesn't just whack at it? How about a good push cart that doesn't weigh a ton?

Clothing. My blouse fell apart the third time I washed it. Buttons fly off regularly because they are not sewn properly. Hems are crooked. Pockets are not sewn straight into pants. And these are expensive department store clothes, not the stuff off the rack at Walmart.

Humidifiers. I use three of them in the house and have problems with all three. The first one we paid hundreds for - it's a whole house steam humidifier. It worked just beyond its warranty and died a painful death. The company replaced it once, for free, but that one died a painful death as well. Obviously it's not a good product anymore (the very first one was, 23 years ago, but we could no longer obtain parts for it). I have a small steam humidifier that I use in the bedroom. The problem with it? It is cantankerous and will only run with distilled water (which gets expensive), and it is made so that it is difficult to fill. The tank on it is oddly shaped and it won't fit into the sink. The third humidifier is a cool evaporative humidifier and the tank on it leaks badly. It also is shaped weird and won't fit well into the sink, and it is hard to handle and heavy.

Eyeglasses. I am going back tomorrow for a fourth try at replacing a lens in less than a year. Enough said.

Why can't companies make products that last and that work without so much problem? Quality, not quantity, used to be the byword in business, but not anymore. Now companies want to take your money and run, and don't worry about customer service. Once it's out of their warehouse they don't care if you're satisfied or not.

Granted, locally there are a few places that deal with you like you're a human being. The eyeglass shop, for example, is going out of its way to try to fix the issue with my progressive lens, and I greatly appreciate their efforts (which is why I am not naming them). I like the service I receive from my local bank (not the national bank, though the local clerks are okay), my accountant, and the postmasters at the post offices I frequent. The people are the photocopy shop are nice even if I don't agree with them on a few issues.

But these large companies, the ones that are in Bambozzla, Alaska (it's next to Wasilla (not really)) don't care if you're happy with the product. That's why we have to endure assistance from India representatives who can hardly speak English and who suddenly have access to your credit card because you called.

I've had it. I don't spend a lot of money on stuff anyway because I'm not a stuff kind of girl, but in 2011 I plan to buy even less stuff than I normally would. Keep your ol' pieces of junk that won't work right anyhow.

When corporations remember what customer service means, I'll go kiss a frog.


  1. I agree about the weed eaters. My husband always has to start mine for me.

    The only company I've found that has decent customer service folks is Apple Computer. And English is their native language, too.

  2. Companies don't want to make items that last. If your doohickey keeps working, they can't sell you a new one next year.
    I've noticed a strange trend by some businesses to act like they are doing you a favor by allowing you to be their customer. What's with that?

  3. I remember the days when there would be a little repair shop in town. You could take your toaster or iron and have it repaired! Now we live in a disposable society where even very expensive items break right around the time the warranty is up.


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