Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Green can be mean

With all today's hype by corporations, individuals, and governments about "going green," you wouldn't expect to get penalized for recycling cardboard, would you? But that's what happened to me: I lost $50 because I brought a box to the transfer station.

It was the box our new cell phone came in. I'll skip the story about why we wanted to return this phone during the 30-day trial period; what matters is, we couldn't, because we didn't have the box. We did have reams of all the right papers with all the necessary account numbers, dates, sources, and fine print, and were inside the 30-day window. But the box carried a bar code, without which the phone could not be returned or exchanged, and a $50 rebate could not be processed.

I nearly burst a blood vessel!

Worse, both the salesman and my spouse had told me, "Be sure to keep the box." I heard those messages, but the first got lost in the flood of TMI (Too Much Information) involved in our purchase, which made my eyes glaze over; and the second got lost in the distraction of sorting and filing all the paperwork, plus the usual troubles of getting any new electronic device to do what you want it to do. So the box landed in the recycling bin and was duly sent where it could never be retrieved the day before we decided to exchange the phone.

Worse again, everyone I told this story to became an owl of wisdom before I finished telling. "Ohhhhh..." they said sagely, knowing what was coming. Somehow they had learned about the Box Thing, unlike poor little naive me. And none of them offered their own story of making a similar mistake. After a few noises of sympathy, they retreated from the conversation to avoid commenting on my carelessness.

Pah! I remain militantly convinced that this situation proves the hypocrisy of modern consumer culture. There are a dozen ways that anyone could lose a box; yet companies rely on boxes to be retained for future customer transactions then blame the customer when boxes go astray. Can you say "s-t-u-p-i-d"?

It can't be good business to create a situation that creates angry customers. I griped my way up the food chain but even the managers just shrugged and apologized, claimed there was nothing they could do. Unfortunately, we need to have a cell phone for various reasons, so I couldn't shove this one up multiple people's orifices. Now we're stuck with the same crummy phone, plus out $50, and will have to spend at least that much to get a decent unit.

All because I was trying to be a good green citizen and reduce, reuse, recycle.

Carolyn Haley
Author: Open Your Heart with Gardens
First-year blog archives at www.dreamtimepublishing.com

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