April 16, 2013
Stop me if you’ve heard this one. A guy walks into a major big-box housewares store to find a microwave. His last one survived three years before belching black smoke in response to the challenge of heating one more slice of pizza. He buckles and sweats under the weight of his chosen unit as he waits on a DMV-inspired check-out line. In turn, he places it gingerly on the counter, heeding all “this end up” indications, for scanning and payment. The cashier proceeds to flip-flop it over and over, side to side, looking for the bar code. She then drops it on end into a bag on the floor. And then, just to make sure any fixed parts are no longer, she topples it in the general direction of the bewildered customer, as if to say “there you go–now get going”. He says, not to himself: “You know, if it’s broken it’s coming right back”. To which she replies in earnest, as if offering service above and beyond: “Don’t worry–we have a no-hassle return policy”. For whom?