The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

24 October 2007

The demotivated shopper

I think of myself more as unmotivated: I will buy something if I can invent a need for it, if I think I will derive tangible benefits from it, or if not buying it would cause me great inconvenience and/or hardship (cf. yesterday's water-heater purchase). I'm not particularly adverse to the act of buying, though I definitely dislike being among crowds when I'm performing that act and will shop online when it's feasible.

The next step beyond me? About like this:

Your Curmudgeon absolutely hates to shop, especially for clothing or shoes. Therefore, he buys items that will minimize the necessity. His style and color choices allow him to wear anything he owns with anything else he owns ... well, apart from his cherished Mickey Mouse Club beanie. His preferred makers are known for the durability of their offerings: they'll survive several seasons of wear and tear before they become so threadbare that even your Curmudgeon would hesitate to be seen in them. Accordingly, when he shops, one of the things he's "buying" is a respite from having to shop again soon, a consideration that would not occur to persons who like to shop.

Although it would occur to me, and I've made adjustments where appropriate: for instance, I tend to buy clothing in units of two or three or six, mostly so I need do it again only one-half or one-third or one-sixth as often.

On the larger question of "Is [such-and-such] worth it?" I found this to be dead accurate:

In the broadest sense, the "is it worth it?" question is answerable only subjectively, and will remain so for all time. But one's answer to the question is not guaranteed forever to remain what it was at the moment of purchase. Does it continue to give good service? Does it evoke good secondary consequences? Has it saved money in an extended sense? The answers can confirm or refute one's earlier evaluations, and provide important lessons applicable to future purchasing decisions.

I am no less subject to buyer's remorse than the next fellow, but I'm sure his criteria are different from mine. And those criteria are subject to change at the last minute:

As a practicing plebe, I've always felt that if you want a Camry, you should buy a Camry, and forgo the big L badge. But there's another side to this story: suppose, just suppose, that the guy who buys the Lexus, knowing he paid the big bucks, actually does a better job of taking care of his pricey little beastie?

Which is how I wound up driving an Infiniti when I probably could have saved a good chunk of change had I bought its Nissan-branded cousin instead. And the local Infiniti store, in my judgment, has worked harder to earn my future business than I had any reason to expect any of our Nissan dealerships to do. (The one Nissan dealership I did once buy a car from has since faded away for reasons apparently unrelated to their business practices.)

I remind myself, as I review the invoice for the plumbing work, that while each item is priced as a unit, each of those prices reflects three different elements: the actual cost of the item, the labor involved in installing that item, and the expertise of the installer. It's possible to price-shop for the the first two, though the range is small; it's insane to price-shop for the third. This firm had never done plumbing for me before, but they had done some HVAC work for me, which I deemed a tad pricey but solid and thorough, and I presumed that their plumbing division would perform similarly. I was not disappointed.

Posted at 11:15 AM to Almost Yogurt


Consumer Alert: Word comes today from Denver, that the World Series tickets have sold out.
But sold separately, and still available, are tickets allowing the buyer to park in the Coors Field parking lot.
The incentive seems to be, being able to park there ONLY, to say one day that "I was there".

Posted by: localmalcontent at 12:01 PM on 24 October 2007

the "is it worth it?" question is answerable only subjectively, and will remain so for all time.

And from the bowels of perdition comes a howl of protest voiced by one Marx, Karl.

Posted by: McGehee at 1:50 PM on 24 October 2007

Given the usual results of Marxist doctrine, "bowels" is probably right.

Posted by: CGHill at 5:33 PM on 24 October 2007