January 12, 2012

Simplicity lost among all the choices

Good Morning

Simplicitygot lost amongall thechoices

I grew up in a small Indiana town of 1,200 people. My family shopped at the corner IGA market. When my mom asked me to stop by the store after school for a loaf of bread, I chose from Holsum white or wheat or IGA brand. There might have been a loaf or twoofRomanMeal. There weren’t many choices.

Today we are overwhelmed with choices. No matter the item, it generally comes in multiple sizes and colors.

The increase inproduct choices reminds me of the switch from broadcast to cable television. How excited we were in the early 1980s that we would have multiple viewing choices. In the Fort Wayne area, we received only four or five broadcast
signals. Even the basic cable of 1981meantmore choices, and initially that was so exciting. Today we have a digital cable spectrum, and even the new digital broadcast offers more choices.

I’ll go out on a limb here, and say that having 900 channels doesn’t really make any of them better. It just means there are more of them. And I think this is true for most products.

I’m not sure that quantity equates with quality; for me it just means confusion.

Recently a neighbor stopped by and admired our new refrigerator. He and his wife are interested in getting a new fridge at some point. He asked if he could come over another time and get the dimensions to see if the same
model would fit in their kitchen. Wanting to save them a trip and get exact measurements, I looked in the manual that came with the fridge we purchased last summer. The manual did not contain dimensions, which struck me as odd.

I then went to this national brand’s website. While I had the model and serial numbers, I did not have the “item number” which is apparently different fromthemodel number. I was astounded that therewere multiple versions of this same fridgewith minor differences. Evenwith the numbers I had, I could not find the exact fridge.

Next I tried the company’s online chat.

I’m fairly certain I was talking
to a robot. We’ll call her “Peggy.” Peggy was exceedingly polite and talked to me as if working from a script. My favorite part was when she said, “I can understand your frustration” as if directed by some off-screen cue because nothing I said indicated I was upset.

Peggy apologized that she couldn’t helpme unless I had the receipt, which was filed neatly away in my husband’s desk. At this point I had already invested enough time in this conversation. Nothing is simple anymore. Lesson learned and duly noted. When in doubt, go the simple route. Measuring tape it is.

Amy Abbott

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