Consumers Behaving Badly
Skydiving and Coffee Pots
Just like everyone else, I am a consumer. Everyone on the planet, at some point, has purchased and used some product or device, it’s only natural. And just like everyone else, I have had occasion to use a product past its usefulness, or more accurately, I have broken that product. Whether it is the leaky coffee pot I regularly bang against the microwave in my I’m-still-not-fully-awake state of being most mornings, or the phone charger that has fallen apart because I repeatedly pull it out of the wall by the cord in my haste.
And just like everyone else, I need to make that quintessential consumer decision: do I replace my broken item with an upgrade to a product that may be more suitable to the rigors of my go-go lifestyle (Ha!), or do I continue with the inexpensive product I am familiar with and “adjust my behavior?”
It reminds me of the Jerry Seinfeld joke about helmets:
...SKYDIVING WAS DEFINITELY THE SCARIEST THING I’VE EVER DONE. LET ME ASK YOU THIS QUESTION IN REGARDS TO THE SKYDIVING: WHAT IS THE POINT OF THE HELMET IN THE SKYDIVING? I MEAN, CAN YOU KINDA MAKE IT? YOU JUMP OUT OF THAT PLANE AND THAT CHUTE DOESN’T OPEN, THE HELMET IS NOW WEARING YOU FOR PROTECTION. LATER ON THE HELMET’S TALKING WITH THE OTHER HELMETS GOING “IT’S A GOOD THING THAT HE WAS THERE OR I WOULD HAVE HIT THE GROUND DIRECTLY.
THERE ARE MANY THINGS THAT WE CAN POINT TO THAT PROOF THAT THE HUMAN BEING IS NOT SMART. THE HELMET IS MY PERSONAL FAVORITE. THE FACT THAT WE HAD TO INVENT THE HELMET. NOW WHY DID WE INVENT THE HELMET? WELL, BECAUSE WE WERE PARTICIPATING IN MANY ACTIVITIES THAT WERE CRACKING OUR HEADS. WE LOOKED AT THE SITUATION. WE CHOSE NOT TO AVOID THESE ACTIVITIES, BUT TO JUST MAKE LITTLE PLASTIC HATS SO THAT WE CAN CONTINUE OUR HEAD-CRACKING LIFESTYLES.
THE ONLY THING DUMBER THAN THE HELMET IS THE HELMET LAW, THE POINT OF WHICH IS TO PROTECT A BRAIN THAT IS FUNCTIONING SO POORLY, IT’S NOT EVEN TRYING TO STOP THE CRACKING OF THE HEAD THAT IT’S IN...
That first and last part are a bit off my point, but I thought Mr. Seinfeld deserved his joke to be heard in full.
So, in my case, the decision was to continue to use the simple, inexpensive product I was familiar with and curb my behavior. Stop pulling the charger from the wall by the cord or pay greater attention to my coffee making process, or at least move the coffee maker away from the microwave.
However, as the processes and technologies of our industry continue to improve, such a choice by the consumer becomes less-and-less necessary. Particularly with environmental simulation testing that, as Terry Candlish writes, “is pushing products and materials to ever greater resilience by upgrading and expanding measurement for more extreme ranges, increasing the resilience of products.”
Check out Terry’s article, “Looking after the Environment: Environmental Simulation in Industrial Sector,” and everything else we have to offer in this month’s Quality.
As always, enjoy and thanks for reading!