Consumer Update: It’s Broken

by Robert Smith

After one of the happiest periods I can recall, it must be reported: The dream is no more. The amazingly beautiful art piece/clock/ceramic wonder that I purchased at Family Dollar for $3.88 a couple of months back no longer works (please check our archives for the three articles by both myself and Jon Pine). As I look at my watch, it’s 1:55 pm; as I look at the clock, it’s 2:33 whatever. The sweep second hand goes round and round, taunting me like a strip club dancer wanting a fiver; my happiness gets thwarted by the second.

The last days

How could this be? How could, after that moment of pure joy upon purchasing this gorgeous and rare quasi-heirloom, could something of such obvious quality and beauty simply cease working so quickly? I still hear the whap, whap, whap of its sweep hand, sounding as if it is intentionally spanking me for being so, well, crazy about it. As I write these words, my hand is leaving my penny pen to take the AA Walgreens battery out of the frickin’ thing before I dump it in the waste bin.

We surely hope you realized the satire during this series of articles, but allow us to vent our true feelings here: Nobody should be caught dead with one of these monstrosities. During the continued Walmartization of our country, people continue to buy what’s cheap instead of what’s safe, trustworthy, and effective, and that’s a troubling thing. The influx of crappy imported goods isn’t the problem. What’s so incredibly sad is that people actually buy this stuff, and as the proliferation of dollar and discount stores proves, people are consuming poor quality Chinese merchandise by the pallet load.
Enough is enough. As a community, we have to think about what we buy and who we buy from, and the ripple effect it causes on our neighbors and our economy.

Recently, there was a television financial news report on D’Addario Guitar Strings, based in Long Island, New York. Many other companies in its field have long sourced out the work on such products to other countries; D’Addario refuses to. The products are of exceptionally high quality, and continue to be amongst the best-selling guitar and bass strings in the world as no higher a cost than any other brand.

David Mermelstein, the CEO of Croton, a New Jersey-based company that’s been selling timepieces for more than 130 years, recently wrote this about his employees on the website following a holiday sale at his workplace: “I know it was Thanksgiving weekend and they would have loved to spend time with their families, but loyal as they are, they were here to put on a great show. I am blessed to have a staff as I have.” Even cursory glances at the website, where watch aficionados gather to discuss new products, have proven that Mermelstein’s company consistently does all it can to rectify customer problems even as other, more highly publicized watch companies fail to do so time and again.

According to many sources, from 90 to 97 percent of all clothing and shoes are now manufactured outside the United States, even though the brand names are highly recognized U.S. companies. However, New Balance athletic shoes continue to produce a line of high quality sneakers and footwear, all either made or assembled in this country (though the company, forced by competition, also offers imported footwear as well).
Red Wing shoes – durable and tough boots and footwear – continue to be made in Red Wing, Minnesota, where they have been in business for only about 150 years.

These companies, and others like them, continue to prove the old adage: Produce something of quality and earn a customer for life. It’s high time that, as a nation, we protect our personal incomes and buoy our economy by trading with each other, and all the while insist on the best from each other. Americans have never shown a limited capacity for innovation and hard work – or for caring about one another.
However, since the late 1950s, we’ve been lulled by advertising into a “do what’s easy” complacency, and we’ve fallen for every line of guff that’s been spewed in our direction. Instead of eating home baked cakes and pies, we choke down Twinkies and Uncrustables frozen peanut butter sandwiches. Instead of consuming healthy, real bread, we scarf down commercially made loaves with as many as 47 ingredients and preservatives on the label – on bread. We buy cheap, pressboard furniture in dollar and liquidation stores. We eat frozen, reheated meat in fast food restaurants. We just do what’s quick and easy, because, you know, “I got a wife and kids to support.”
So, to whoever out there has that attitude, I deliver this holiday greeting: Go to blazes. Instead of joining the line at the dollar store to save four cents on a pair of Chinese-made socks, think before you buy, guy. And remember that for every such purchase, there’s likely one more schmoe on the unemployment line during the supposed most wonderful time of the year.

Robert Smith recently made a huge mistake in his personal life, and he’s hell bent on getting it out of his system, probably at your expense. We say let him sit at the end of the bar by himself.



Filed under Humor, Posts by Robert Smith

10 responses to “Consumer Update: It’s Broken

  1. * gazes lovingly at her American made Frye boots*

    I knew there was a reason I liked you guys.

    • Robert Smith

      Yeah, I guess I’m one of those old skool dreamers that still thinks our economy would be better if we all supported each other as people instead of as numbers. I think it’s one of the big reasons I remain poor and unknown.


  2. Jon Pine

    Dude, so sorry to hear that your timepiece crapped out! For the moment, mine seems to be working still, and actually keeping pretty good time!

    You know those warning labels the government puts on cigarette packs? We should put similar warnings on all imported products.

    Warning: Purchasing this product could cause your neighbor to lose his job. Warning: Thanks to NAFTA and widespread American apathy, this product is no longer made in the USA. Warning: The country where this was made allows children to work for slave wages so you could save 50 cents.

    People need to wake up to the moral and economic implications of every single purchase they make. Contrary to Kmart’s new slogan, “Shopping Smart” does not always mean aiming for the lowest price.

  3. Steve R

    Okay. It’s confession time. Although I initially resisted the microwave clock madness that had so effectively toasted the higher brain functions of my fellow refugees, I one day found myself at a Family Dollar store, just so, you know, I could see what it looked like. Not that I would actually buy it or anything. Pshaw.

    They didn’t have it, however, so I figured, what the heck, there’s another Family Dollar not too far away. Maybe the pictures didn’t do it justice and it was even uglier than it appeared to be! This I had to see. Not that I’d buy one.

    Two Family Dollar stores, a Yankee Dollar store, a General Dollar store, and a Dollar Tree store later, I still haven’t found it. Fortunately, now that I’ve read about Bob’s clock shuffling off it’s mainspring, I have suddenly lost this bizarre compulsion to see the clock. No, I don’t need to see it anymore…


    tick. tick. tick. not tick. tick. tick.

    • Jon Pine

      Oh no, no, no, dear boy. You don’t possess the Microwave/Clock with Hot Dog Accent – IT possesses YOU! Bwaaahaaahaaaa!

      Hearing of your burgeoning yearning, and remembering that my clock was one of two on the shelf, I went back to our FD this morning. But, alas, the shelves had been rearranged to make way for a whole bunch of seasonal holiday cra… uhm, items.

      I had almost given up all hope when, as I headed for the exit, I spotted a chartreuse box out of the corner of my eye. Yup, there it was! Not on an ordinary shelf with the other trinkets and sundries, but ON DISPLAY right there by the entrance. Under a lit and decorated Christmas tree, no less!

      In retail I believe they call this giving your product “Eye Appeal.” But I call it “Another Family Dollar Miracle!” Because even with such premium placement, no one bought it, which meant, of course that I could. It will soon be on its way to your house.

      Just make sure Rhea’s not around when you open the package, or she’ll get really jealous and chase you down the street with a golf club…

  4. Think globally, shop locally!

  5. Jon Pine

    By the way, that photo was taken at a place called – I shit you not – Wiener Works in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

    Used to be called Wiener King, but someone sued and made them change the name. Boy, I would have PAID to be on that jury!

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