Monday, August 23, 2010

Where's The Consumer Protection Agency When You Need Them?

It’s probably not illegal, but it is without doubt both immoral and unethical. I speak, of course, of the nefarious business practice of rendering obsolete time-tested and perfectly acceptable products by adding superfluous bells and whistles, forcing consumers to pay for something they neither want, nor need, nor will ever use.

This is nothing new in our greed-driven world by any means. On the contrary – I remember, as a young boy, listening to great-great-grandpa Festus ramble on about the introduction of “safety switches” on rifles. “Consarn it!” great-great-grandpa Festus would cry out, shaking his trembling fist. “If I wanted something that didn’t go ‘bang’ when I pulled the trigger, I’da got me a Winchester!” (Great-great-grandpa Festus was a notoriously devoted Smith & Wesson man.) “When them durn revenooers come around, or god forbid, Ethel catches me takin’ up with the widow Muldoon again, and some new-fangled switchy thing gets me killed or landed down to the jail, I’m-a gonna …”

Great-great-grandpa Festus was over 110 years old at that time in my life, and he never really got further than that without falling asleep. I’m not comfortable speculating on what he would have done in either of the aforementioned situations, had he been unable to discharge his weapon.

Microsoft has long done the same thing with their operating systems (please don’t belittle me for my Windows-based habit … I assume that, since you’re technically savvy enough to navigate the intertubez, you’re either on a Mac or running Linux). There was absolutely nothing wrong with Windows 3.11 (Workgroup For Windows), and even those who found it a bit unfriendly could install Microsoft Bob to make any computing experience as joyful as hugging a newborn kitten.

But just you try calling Tech Support and asking for help for it now … some 17-year-old wet-behind-the-ears greenhorn will claim he knows nothing of a product by that name and will suggest that you spend your money on a new product that has a bunch of "features" you don’t need, like being able to run two programs at once. Seriously, WTF?

My current dilemma has to do with razor blades. I’ve been a Gillette Atra user for years. It’s a simple dual-blade cartridge, and it works perfectly fine. Don’t get me wrong - I’ve got no problem with Schick customers; I’m not trying to start a flame war in comments here. It just happens to be what I started with, and I’m happy with it. The issue is that replacement blades are getting harder and harder to find, and I fear that the manufacturer is purposefully underproducing them to force me to upgrade to whatever seven-fucking-blade system is the douchebag accessory du jour.

Before my older readers call me out as a hypocrite and wax poetic about the days of single solo blades with no lubrication strip that only cost a quarter, let me state that I am fully aware of the history of the razor industry. I know they had a single blade, and I know they were cheap, so don’t accuse me of being a solo-cost denier.* But that’s how they work – they bring in entry-level users with their slick ads for the latest’n’greatest cutting edge technology, and in doing so … this is the truly evil aspect of it … create an army of new hepcat users who belittle us oldsters by shaming us for not being “with it,” thereby minimizing the effect of our righteous and well-founded outrage.

I’ll see you in hell, Gillette. I'll be the one who hasn't shaved in a while.

[UPDATE:] I've thought about it a little more, and I guess I kind of see an advantage of a bunch of blades. It's certainly not a closer shave (... the 19th blade pulls the whisker even FURTHER out ... yeah, right ...), but the blade would be so wide that you could do your whole face with just a quarter-inch stroke.** Being an extremely lazy person, I'll say that if they added a beer holder, I'm in.

*That’s poorly set up and truly horrible even by my extremely low standards, and I hope you’ll have the kindness in your hearts to one day forgive me.
** Go to town with the quarter-inch stroke jokes. This is not the Center For The Refinement Of Humor's website.


Niamh B said...

wouldn't have seen the * without you pointing it out there
I know what you mean though - first phone I had: brilliant, tough as a brick, unbreakable, now all I've to do is sneeze on a phone and it gets wrecked... though maybe that first phone actually was a brick, now that I think about it.

Domestic Oub said...

Ah, gosh, haven't thought of Windows 3.11 in such a long time - damn it, I was happy with it. Adding features is just sinful pride.

The Dead Acorn said...

I've only gone from the old rotary cord phone to a cell in the last couple of years. I will admit to having to bump up my text limit from 100 to 400 to unlimited in the first 2 months.

I miss having to set the IRQ jumpers when installing new hardware. Those were the days.

Domestic Oub said...

Omg, deeply hidden memory of irq conflicts and the hell of being an IT call centre drone are resurfacing. No! No! D'n'R, d'n'r....

Totalfeckineejit said...

Ah, The Widow Muldoon.Hyat, hyat, hyat. As Al would say in Happy Days.

As for shaving, my god, you shave and then ten days later, you need to do it again!
I still buy the single blade Bic here in Ireland, good for one shave and 10 mins of agony.