The (consumer) rights of man…

PC World 6


I have just had one of those encounters with mass consumerdom that leaves us angry, frustrated and dissatisfied. To be honest, most such encounters have this effect on me these days, but this one more so than most.

Michaela bought a budget netbook last week as she had broken the screen on her old laptop, and it was simply not worth repairing due to it’s age and general decrepitude. When she got the new netbook home, it was simply dreadful. If she tries to operate two programmes at once (say e-mail and the internet) one of them freezes up.

After listening to her cries of irritation I said I would take it back (to PC World) and upgrade it to a better model. It was an hour and a half of my life I will never get back. Suffice it to say that we still have the same netbook. PC world are happy to recommend and sell goods that are crap, but only willing to exchange them if the crap has been squashed or flushed in some way.

I should not be surprised at the rude and unhelpful encounters I had in the process of trying to sort all this out. Think of the huge industry that has evolved to stoke our obsession with shopping; all those on-line reviews (which we should perhaps have read,) consumer advice websites, comparing Meer cats etc..

We live in a world characterised by the interface between huge companies whose bottom line depends on screwing us out of every last fraction of a penny, and the consumer (me) standing haughtily on my ‘rights’.

The devaluing of the ‘rights’ of man from ideas of freedom from oppression to whether or not our gadgets work in the manner to which we expect – or our holidays entertain us as we hope they will -depresses the hell out of me.

Which is why I came out of PC world miserable. It was less about the money, and the sense of being chewed up by the machine, and more the fact that I had somehow debased myself by conforming to that which I despise.

Thomas Paine must be turning in his grave;

“When it can be said by any country in the world, my poor are happy, neither ignorance nor distress is to be found among them, my jails are empty of prisoners, my streets of beggars, the aged are not in want, the taxes are not oppressive, the rational world is my friend because I am the friend of happiness. When these things can be said, then may that country boast its constitution and government. Independence is my happiness, the world is my country and my religion is to do good.”
Thomas PaineRights of Man

Having said all that- I am writing this on my laptop, not Michaela’s.

How blessed we are to have the means to own two laptops anyway…

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