November 12, 2010

Cheap Crap

Did you just glance at your printer? Your kid's sweatshirt that shrunk faster than Ron Jeremy diving into the Arctic Ocean? The blow dryer that you stare dumbly at as your thumb moves the little switch up, down, up, down, and nothing happens?

Here's an article that matches my mood about such things. How we've all been seduced with the 'of course you can all have everything' mentality when it comes to consumer goods. i was hoping it would flinch a little and discuss our ridiculous 'want' versus 'need' confusion, but apparently that horse has disappeared in a cloud of dust.

Remember when you could pay more, and get more? Remember Braun applicances? Household stuff - blenders, blow dryers, food processors, etc - they had a 3 year warranty. I worked at Consumers Distributing for most of a decade (I know, I know. The stories I could tell...), and I got to see first hand the true test of You Get What You Pay For. You buy cheap crap, you get cheap crap. Invest a little up front, your grandkids will be fighting over who gets it.

But things have changed. I don't go looking for the cheapest TV or computer. I want the best, for a fair price. But the band has become not just narrow, but opaque. Several brands made by one manufacturer masquerading as 'different'. Goods that explode one day before the warranty expires, or more often, one day after.

My current teeth gnashing feud is going on with Cogeco. I have a modem. It is a piece of crap. I should rename if Piece of Crap with that trademark circle thingee after it. It should never be referred to as anything other than Piece of Crap. It is my second piece of crap.

Here's how it (doesn't) work: My internet keeps pooping out. It takes the phone with it, because it's all connected by Wall Magic, or whatever makes the things in my house operate. We keep resetting the modem. And resetting and resetting. I call for tech support, because even my wee fuzzy brain knows that paying 200 bucks a month should mean I don't have to keep resetting the modem. They send out a tech. I am not home, so Superchild #1 gets up. Tech informs him that the signal is fine, it's the garbage modems that don't work. Tells him to just keep resetting it. Superchild #1, believing this to be a fair and reasonable answer for 200 bucks a month (that obviously aren't his), let's him go. Opens the trap and lets the tech go. Superchild #1 now has two places to poop from.

I call back. Some squirrelly phone rep informs me there is no possible way their modems could be inferior. Just no way. He doesn't know what the tech was talking about. Let me tell you something: I will take a guy in a tool belt who knows his way around a pair of wire snips over a doofus sitting at a desk sipping a Snapple while he tells me I'm an idiot.

I demand another tech, which is like a demanding a recount even though you know you won and shouldn't have to prove it. Tech #2 shows up, and laments that the modems are crap. In a court of law, I would call this a smoking gun. I could convince a jury of my internet-deprived peers that Cogeco is shilling shoddy modems. I know I could. Tech #2 replaces Modem #1 anyway, but with the same piece of crap. They must have gotten a hell of a deal on them, because it's all they have. If you have Cogeco, look down. We have the same modem. I bet they bought all of them that were ever produced. I bet there was a huge garage sale in China, and Cogeco got up early and went over in their station wagon and said "we'll give you a hundred bucks for all of 'em. Take it or leave it." And I believe China yelled 'deal!' as they started loading 3 million crappy modems into the Woody.

Tech #2 had been gone a day. Modem crapped out. Having no energy to fight this fight again, I sighed. Then I discovered yesterday that my phone had been out for over a day. I didn't notice; I don't like phones. But people started calling on my cell phone, wondering if I'd finally made good on my oft-made promise to sell the house and leave no forwarding address. I called Cogeco to fix the phone. Snappleman got it going, all the while telling me it wasn't their fault. Sure it isn't. That's why when you flicked something on your motherboard behind the big curtain, it started working again. "Are you calling me on your cellphone?" asked Snappleman. No, my not-working home phone, genius. I told him to look up sarcasm. I made an offhand comment about the crappy modems. "Oh, no, our modems are fine," he assured me. "No, they are not. But I'm too tired to have that talk with you. Drink your Snapple," I told him.

Here's the thing: I keep threatening to go back to Bell or Sympatico, but they all suck. And they all know they suck. And I have this piece of crap modem parked on my computer that I know is crap, and they know is crap, and they know I know is crap. We accept lousy stuff because we are tired. I am too defeated to chase that bear up the mountain every damned day. I am reduced to living for moments when people agree that stuff is lousy. I will willingly and enthusiastically buy good quality merchandise when someone can prove to me it is truly better. I despise shopping; I prefer to buy things *once*. I hate waiting for Snapple-drinking deniers to schedule in techs who show up sometime between 8 and 6. The techs don't deserve the abuse that gets heaped on them, and companies have an obligation to provide decent, reliable products and service when they're charging top buck.

I've actually started to like these modems. It's the only time my sons emerge from their rooms. I don't call them to dinner anymore. I just disconnect the modem. In tandem, I hear two chairs wheel back, and large feet come thundering down the stairs. Cogeco has brought my family closer together, by removing reliable internet access from us.

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Anonymous Dave T said...

I agree and sympathize.

What bugs me is that it's become too hard to tell if the higher priced item really is better; too often it isn't. It may look better or have better marketing but will probably still break, crash or fail just as easily and often as the cheap crap.

November 12, 2010 11:53 AM  
Blogger marcelleqb said...

I bought my own modem and told my provider to take off the leasing fee they charge for use of the their modem and pick up their crap modem.

November 12, 2010 12:34 PM  
Blogger Lorraine said...

Marcelle, if you keep saying things that make so much sense, you're gonna take the edge off my rant=)

Good to see you here!

And yes to Dave. I wish stuff came with a little sticker that delineated good, better, best. But for real. And no more fake Manfacturer's Suggested Retails Prices, the biggest con in history.

November 12, 2010 12:36 PM  
Anonymous buzzwhack said...

Quality control from many Asian nations is a joke. They can and do make great quality items, they just don't export them to North America.The reality is most North American firms subcontract their labor and design overseas for as cheap as possible.I was shown a great Fuji camera seven years ago. It had 10 megapixel capacity, metal body, decent quality glass lens, nice features and was very affordable. I asked the guy how much. He said, "I paid 300 dollars, don't know what it'd cost here. It's a home market model only."
At the time 10 megapixel cams were super expensive in Canada.Bottom line is you have to do your homework when it comes to big ticket items.

November 12, 2010 2:33 PM  
Anonymous Roz said...

Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price stickers are fake?

There goes my world

November 12, 2010 3:32 PM  
Blogger Lorraine said...

Yes, Roz. We've just been nodding along when you tell us how much you saved.

Though after the stuff the Sommerfeld grrrrls are hurling at Sympatico and Cogeco these past two days, watch us both be cut off.

November 12, 2010 3:50 PM  
Blogger Chris Brown (not the felon) said...

I've been cut off for years. YEARS, I tell you.

Oh... you meant cable? Ah.


November 12, 2010 3:59 PM  
Blogger Chris Brown (not the felon) said...

Is your modem an RCA? Ours is an RCA and it's been merrily humming along for 4 or 5 years. Every now and then it sends up a brief smoke signal and a small... um... toot. But usually it would be easy to confuse it with Mr. Reliable. Perhaps Cogeco in Oakville was at a different garage sale? Tell them you live in Oakville but would like the "Oakville modem" sent to a Burlington address, so it can be shipped to your REAL Oakville address. I would think that should be convoluted enough to cause them to implode.

November 12, 2010 4:10 PM  
Blogger Lucywestie said...

I have the Cogeco Port Hope Modem. It has worked fine for us though for some reason on occasion I have to unplug it and then plug it back in as the signal drops. The main computer works though. Then again, I havent had a problem in a while so maybe I just jinxed myself.
The main thing I love about Cogeco is that when I phone I do not get somebody in India but usually I get a rep in Mississauga or somewhere equally exotic but Canadian.
We have two PVR's, phone and internet through them. Awfully huge bill each month but if there was an ultimate fight thingy between Bell and Cogeco, Bell would be the wimpy kid with the runny nose and Cogeco would be a pissed off Grizzly on steroids.
Oh..and the word verification thing for this post was "POOING" sitting here chuckling to myself. How sad!

November 13, 2010 10:53 AM  
Anonymous Malcolm said...

Death, Taxes and Cogeco - they are no different!

March 02, 2012 11:04 AM  

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