Summer Ramblings

Today’s Question:

Do companies that tease you about future products ever consider the obnoxiousness of that strategy?

I’ve made no bones on this blog about how I have issues with companies that can’t deliver what they promise.  Or, those companies that make a big deal out of how great their products are, but show little evidence of that.  I’m not a business major, but I find it hard to believe that companies are willing to alienate their customer base because of misguided attempts to “build interest.”

What am I talking about?  Well, let’s say that you collect baseball cards. 

You’re an average card collector, meaning that you do it as a hobby.  Maybe you started for the fun of it – who knows?  Anyway, it’s what you enjoy.  One day, Card Co. Inc., advertises that they’re going to release a new series of cards – top of the line, impervious to damage, and affordable.  You’re beside yourself – what a great product!  Card Co. Inc. teases you with a few photos here and there.  The sales reps talk the cards up, but give you nothing specific.  You wait because they give you the ‘oh, so helpful’ release date of “Spring 2016.”

March turns into April; April becomes May.  Mid-June, the cards still haven’t hit the stores, yet Card Co. Inc. can’t stop talking about them.  More promotional pics surface, but still nothing  about a release date.  Summer comes and goes; then autumn, and finally winter.  Still no cards and even less from the company.

What do you do?

I’m not bemoaning a specific incident, per se; I’m just tired of the practice.  I received an e-mail the other day from a company that I’ve done business with, promoting some new items they hope to release in the next year.  “Are you interested?”  Uh, no, I’m not.

If you don’t have it on your shelves to ship right now, then don’t waste my time.

This has nothing to do with a lack of patience, mind you.  I just resent making a financial and emotional investment that rarely pays off.  I get that a company needs to build up interest to justify their investment, but there should be some accountability, too.  Years ago, I ordered a limited edition novelty book, not knowing that it was still in production.  No one ever suggested that the book was not published; had I known, I might not have ordered it.  I was patient, but given the price of the book (it was the most expensive non-textbook I’d purchased at that point), I was a wee bit concerned about my investment.  But we went on – promises from the publishers, and queries from me – for several months, until I finally wrote and told them to refund my money or deal with the state attorney general.

As to that book?  I found it, about twenty years later at a used book shop.  Stumbled on it by complete accident, by the way.  Found it for less than a third of the original price, not that it mattered.  I was happy to finally get the book, but even now, I’m kind of pissed about the whole incident.  Turns out, it was finally published three years after my initial interest.  A bit of research showed that the publisher ultimately closed its doors because mine wasn’t the only letter of dissatisfaction.

Nowadays, I’m more likely to just walk away when faced with a situation like that.  Life’s far too short to waste it waiting on some merchandise that may never arrive. 

Doesn’t make things less aggravating, though.

Nothing scares me more than car problems.  I’ve mentioned car issues here in the past, most recently the episode last November where my transmission started dying while I was in the middle of a busy intersection (8 lanes) during rush hour.

Fun times, my friends.

The thing about car issues, at least in my experience, is that once you’ve had a major problem like that, you become hyper sensitive to every bump, blip, creak, and pop, that your car makes.  I was fortunate because I was about four miles from home when things turned south on me, and fortunately, traffic in my direction dwindled.  Got the car home, made some calls, and work was done.  It was especially fortunate that it happened two days before Thanksgiving, and as a result, I lost only one day of work.

Once the repairs were completed, however, I was a nervous wreck.  Each time the transmission shifted gears, I flew into a near-panic.  I just knew that something was going to go wrong while I was on the Interstate, that I’d be stranded on the side shoulder, that I’d lose more days of work, then my job, then my home.  By the time I was finished, I had myself in exile on some tiny rock in the South Pacific, all because my engine wasn’t working correctly.  It’s a weird sort of panic, too – in my mind, my whole existence is tied into a functioning vehicle, and without that, I am nothing.

Nothing?  Really??

The Little Woman has, many times now, tried to calm me with that admonition that it’s “only a car.”  I know that, but it doesn’t make things easier.  “We can deal with it,” she adds, as if car repairs were the equivalent of typos in a document.  I wish I could be that calm about it, I really do.  I have no clue as to when I started having this adverse reaction to auto repairs; goodness knows I’ve sent a number of cars to repair shops with nary a word.  Then again, it’s almost like my reaction to snow and ice on the road – complete and utter anxiety.

Machines wear down, and sometimes they fail to work for reasons we can’t begin to understand.  Sometimes, we have to replace them, and do so at great expense – often when we can least afford it.  I get that.  What I don’t get, however, is how my reaction to such things has gone from a ‘ho-hum’ level of acceptance to one of ‘if it doesn’t work, I might as well jump off a bridge.’  How does one change in such a dramatic fashion, going from one extreme to the other?  I can’t think of any traumatic incidents that might affect me; it all just boggles the mind.

Why this prologue?  Simple: My transmission doesn’t sound like it’s on the level.  I can’t take it to the shop until Monday, at the earliest, and I’m already starting to panic over excessive charges, rental vehicles, and who-knows-what-else.  It could just be my hyper sensitivity running away again; I’m willing to concede that.  But I’m also resolved to let things go their own way.  At least it’s summer and I won’t have any hard-core driving until next month.

As long as it works, I’ll be alright.

I’ve rediscovered my fascination with model railroading.

Actually, it’s less about the railroading part, and more about building the models that one finds in a model railroading shop.  I love models; I don’t know why.  In recent years, I think that I’ve been drawn to them because I’ve used them as a way to relax and distress, but that’s funny because some of those pieces are so darn small that one can easily pop an artery trying to fit them where they’re supposed to go.  Ships, planes, tanks, cars, spaceships – you name it, I’ve probably done it.  Plastic, styrene, 3D printing – yep, I’ve done those, too.  I’ve even done some scratch builds, but those have never really turned out and it’s something that we here don’t discuss.

No, seriously.

Usually, I get a ‘feel’ for a model or a particular design, and then I check out pricing.  Models are expensive!  The same German WWII tank that I once purchased for $4 now runs nearly ten times that.  The hobby store owner told me that it’s mainly because kids don’t go for modeling nowadays; they see it as ‘work.’  That’s their loss, I guess, because right now, I’m having a blast.  Depending on the model and the amount of work I have to put into it, I can probably finish it in three or four days, most of which is tied up in the painting process.  For the record, I’ve worked with models of various sizes and scales, but all with an eye towards their final storage place around the house.  This is not easy because we don’t have much in terms shelving space.  That means many of them – mostly various ships from Star Trek – have found themselves in pile in the corner of one room.  The Little Woman has repeatedly begged me to go and buy a shelving unit, if only to create some semblance of order, but truth be told, we’ve got no room for it, at least until I clean out the basement, and that’s a summer job all by itself.



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