Hissy Fit: Cords, Cases and Costs

Things that Make You Go Hmm


I like technology and I’m a proponent for staying up to date with both hardware and software.
I pre-ordered the most popular smart phone two years ago in order to update the smart phone that I had only had for eight months. I already have October 10 slated as the day I will pick up my new-and-improved brilliant phone. Before smart phones, between me and my two children, we had five different name brand MP3 players, all of varying colors and memory.

Even though I’m in love with these products, there are a few things that make me go hmmm.

Hmm No. 1: While very pricey, these products are not made to last. My son’s first MP3 player cost a small fortune at around $300. That’s a lot of money to pay for a gadget for a seventh-grade boy. I can understand why it may cost so much: There is a great deal of research and development behind it. In addition to being cutting edge technology, there is the supply and demand factor, too. Not to mention the wow factor that this tiny hand-held gadget could hold up to 1,000 songs and easily be taken anywhere. Just think about how difficult it would be to take 500 vinyl 45s with you everywhere you went with a turntable in tow? Even as small as CDs are, the MP3 player came in and redefined the way the entire world listened to music.
   Here’s what I don’t understand: At $300 a pop, shouldn’t it last more than two years? It’s as if there is a very precise technological clock counting down from onset it’s date of death. And once dead, apparently these suckers have an airtight "Do Not Resuscitate" order because when you call for help, you can hear the bugles blowing "Taps" in the background. It’s the same scenario with my smart phone; I have to get a new one because it will no longer hold a charge. Coincidentally, I have had it exactly two years.
   It just seems like a rip. I mean my mother, who has lived in her current home since 1967, still has a rotary telephone in one of the bedrooms. And, it works perfectly. So here’s the deal: the rotary phone couldn’t have cost more than $20, which customers got to pay a little each month on their phone bill if they actually wanted to own the phone, and 47 years later it’s still working. Now that’s technology! I know it won’t play 1,000 songs, but it still works, people! Mom hasn’t even had to make a service call about it, which is a good thing considering the lack of rotary phone service call centers. Wouldn’t you love to be the phone company employee on the receiving end of that modern-day call? I can hear my mother now:

Mom: When I try to dial three it will only go as far as one, but all the other ones work, what should I do?

Service Rep: When you say dial, you are not actually referring to sticking your finger in a hole and making it go around until it stops and then letting it go, are you?

Mom: You have to stick your finger in the hole and make it go around if you want to make a call. Well, except for the three.

Service Rep: Where do you live? Mom: Are you going to come fix it? Service Rep: No. I was just curious if you were in a third-world country or something.

Mom: A third-world country? What are you talking about? I have a feeling you’re not going to be capable of helping me.

Service Rep: Have you considered getting an iPhone?

Mom: Your phone? Why do I need yourPhone when I already have myPhone? And, that’s not good grammar. Who calls their phone iPhone?

Service Rep: Well, Ma'am, all I can tell you is try not to call telephone numbers with a three in them.

Hmm No. 2: Who makes $200, $300, $600 gadgets that you take everywhere you go and break if you drop them, especially when a large portion of the target consumer is teens and tweens between 10 and 20 years old? Surely, they won’t drop it. Yes they will. So will adults—it’s inevitable, a fact of life. And, usually within the first two weeks—that lapse of time between recovering from sticker shock of the phone to going into sticker shock over the cost of a phone case. Let me remind you: Phone cases, which generally are a single piece of plastic, or two if fancy, range from $30 to more than $100. It’s plastic, y’all! My mother has Tupperware bowls with way more plastic than a phone case that cost a whole lot less. I bought a plastic shield called a screen protector for $26. It is simply a thick piece of Saran Wrap. One would think with all the incredibly advanced technology that goes into making cell phones and smart phones, one of these brainiacs would think, “Maybe it shouldn’t be so easy to break.”

Hmm No. 3: Have you priced electrical cords? I need to know why I can buy an entire lamp for $39—lamp base, shade and electrical cord— yet the cord for my computer cost $80. Coincidentally, my cord lasted about two years and then needed replacing. Father Time and the Grim Reaper have got to be shareholders.
   The cords for the phones are expensive, too. But this is especially aggravating: You buy a cord. It’s not name brand. You still overpay, even though you chose not to buy designer. It works for two weeks and then your phone decides it’s not going to play nice anymore. The warning comes up and states: This accessory may not be compatible. Well, is it or isn’t it? Why did the package say it is if it isn’t? Doesn’t anyone notice you can buy a regular extension cord for $1.50? What makes phone and computer cords so darn expensive? I don’t know, but I feel like playing Monopoly.

Hmm No. 4: I’m concerned about getting rid of all of this disposable designer technology. Where do dead phones, computers, electrical cords, keyboards and monitors go? Disposable products are good for sales but what about the environment—you know, the future of Mother Earth? I may be opening up a can of worms, but this is trash that even worms can’t devour. Maybe I should call Mom.

Me: Hey Mom. Should I throw my phone away?

Mom: Why in the world would you want to do that? Will it not dial the number three?

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