Slightly Off Center

Slightly Off Center: Shop carefully

By Dennis Hinkamp

Before you shop this season, think of the consequences.
by Dennis Hinkamp
Like most things in life, what seems like the right thing to do at the time may not always end well.

Break ups are always difficult—especially with someone you wish you’d never gotten involved with in the first place. There’s sort of an unwritten three date rule. Even if the first date was bad, you have to go out again so as to avoid hurt feelings, and then you have to go out a third time so they don’t think you went out the second time just to not hurt their feelings. This is exactly what is happening in the marketplace today.

In a moment of consumer lust, I got involved with XM for three months of radio orgy, and have been trying to extricate myself from its clutches ever since. Apparently, the downturn in the economy has transformed every business into a whining, needy, angry ex.

I knew it was a mistake to get involved from the onset. It was like when your dog chomps into a chunk of wasabi that you dropped on the floor, and then immediately looks at you with a facial expression that says, “Man, I wish I hadn’t done that.”

“Please don’t drop us,” XM says. “We’ll do better, we’ll give you service for free for the next three months.”

“That’s a generous offer but I’m sorry, XM, it’s not about the money—you knew it was just a summer fling,” I say. “I was traveling and I thought having 273 choices of entertainment would be a nice diversion while I was away from my home station. I’m usually monogamous when it comes to listenership; this was just a lapse. But now it’s winter and we both have to get back to our real lives.

“Seriously, it’s not personal. Don’t call me at home and don’t call my cell phone,” I add. “No, I don’t want a complimentary upgrade. We’re done; move on. We just weren’t meant for each other. Please don’t ruin the memory of what we had by making me get a restraining order.”

Any service you purchase now becomes a bad codependent relationship. Everything from getting your diesel engine serviced to ordering a pizza comes with some sort of consumer satisfaction survey attached.

“I loved you for the brief time we were together but this is not a long-term relationship,” I want to say. “You are so needy; you want me to rate your performance? I will not cheapen our relationship by doing that.

“No, really, much of our relationship was satisfactory on a scale of 1-5, with one being highly unsatisfactory and five being highly satisfactory, but much of it was just neither satisfactory nor unsatisfactory,” I say. “If only I could express to you how I feel in a PowerPoint presentation, we could work this all out. And, no, I don’t have any additional comments that could improve your performance. It sounds vaguely obscene just to hear you ask.”

So shop carefully or risk waking up with hangover in the cheap motel of buyer remorse.

Dennis Hinkamp’s current indiscretion is with the new Droid cell phone.

This article was originally published on November 30, 2009.