I have had a few interesting customer service interactions over the past week that have made me reflect on the kind of consumer I am. The short answer: a really good one.
First, I would offer what should be called the “gay male couple” corollary to the “the bigger the boy, the bigger the toy” rule. Pretty much all guys love gadgety stuff, from mobile phones to outdoor gear to expensive consumer electronics. Gay men (if I may generalize) are no different–but a gay male couple has to be every marketers dream because there is no wife to raise the issue of what’s commonly called WAF, or “wife acceptance factor.” Don’t get me wrong–I know lots of gadget-lovin’ gals, but women seem to retain their senses in the presence of silicon in a way that most men can’t. There was little negotiation involved when David and I decided it was time to buy a plasma. “A 42-inch screen, honey? Why not 50?” (As it turns out, 50 was too big for the room as we were both bummed to learn.)
I recently found myself in the Portland Apple store, lovingly contemplating a brand new 15″ MacBookPro when my traveling companion helpfully pointed out how much I’d save on sales tax if I bought one in Oregon. So–going out of my way to be a good partner and looking for a check on my technolust– I texted David a message so short and cryptic that I wasn’t even sure he’d know what I was talking about. He responded within seconds– “Sure– go for it!” I’m glad I asked, but it confirmed my diagnosis that we are gadget junkies. (It’s not a tough call as I’m embarrassed to admit that we have three TVs, three game consoles, two Nintendo DSs and five computers in the house. Clearly we need help.)
Sadly, all was not good in Mac-land… the MacBookPro had some mysterious issues that got worse over time, eventually leading David to declare it “crap” and make my impulse purchase seem foolish. So I dragged it off to the Seattle Apple Store and a Genius Bar appointment. After a 20 minute wait and maybe 30 minutes of tinkering, the geek-in-residence found and fixed a problem relating to file permissions. I decided to spring for another 512
KMB of RAM ($100, which is cheap if you have any kind of historical perspective on memory prices) and went home with a machine as screamingly fast as all the ads promised. (Oh, and a laptop bag–another long story I’ll get to later this week). I’m now so happy with it that I don’t even mind the hiccup… it’s like getting a new Mac twice!
Which is a nice segue to a story about something else we are going to have to get for a second time. In a similar WAF-less fashion, pretty much as soon as we saw the Bose Sound Docks for the iPod that came out last year, we wanted one. It didn’t take long for us to get one, either– we just rushed out and plunked down the embarrasing sum. But it sounds amazing and we love it. Especially that tiny little remote.
But just as boys love toys, so do dogs. So imagine our chagrin when we came home last night to a panicked note from the new housekeeper, next to a little plastic tub full of thoroughly chewed up plastic and circuit board. She thought it was an iPod, which would have been… bad. Luckily it was just that lovable little Sound Dock remote. But we both expected a replacement to cost at least $50– it would have fit my preconception of Bose as good but damn expensive. David was irritated at the dogs, the housekeeper and (inexplicably) me. “If it’s more than 30 bucks, forget it!” So I popped open that super-speedy new laptop and Googled for a moment. Image my suprise when I landed here and learned that it was only $9.98 with free shipping!
I’m not sure what all that means, other than that we are hopelessly spoiled. But I suspect that realization lies smack in the middle of the carnival of modern man. If you’re spoiled and you know it, isn’t it the same thing as being thankful? Here’s hoping.