Gallstone #1

February 2, 1999

I broke down and installed a garbage disposer in my kitchen sink. I thought, "I'm a civilized guy in a sophisticated world, I DESERVE a little motor in my sink, to grind up my leftovers and shoot 'em down the drain." Fair enough.
I headed off to Orchard Supply Hardware, OSH, the hardware conglomerate owned by Sears. Prices & selection are great. I know this, because I saw an ad on TV. Someone made a whole ad to tell me about OSH's prices & selection- why would they lie? My experience with OSH, as with most corporate snakepits, has been that if you avoid trying to get any help from the help, you'll be OK. When in doubt, GUESS.
Sure enough, pretty soon I was staring down the necks of eight different disposers, from a dinky 1/3 HP Kenmore to a beautiful all-stainless 1 HP monster. Prices went from $35 to over $150. Sure enough, each selection did indeed have a price attached to it. Just like on TV!
Being a poor student, I opted for the cheap one. I figured, a cheap disposer is still a disposer, right? It won't grind tree limbs and I can't dispose of bodies down the sink, but for workaday stuff, the cheap one will be all I'm gonna need.
So, I took my new $35 toy home and spent a couple hours and $40 installing it. Zoom! Happy days. All is well in the land of convenient kitchen appliances.
After a couple days, I notice a distinct pattern. Every time I run something through the disposer, the kitchen sink clogs. Seriously clogs. I bought a drain snake and opened the drain line, even resorted to using a hose-bomb to get the sink draining again. The drain was clogged with pea-sized bits of leftovers (including some actual peas for size determination). This disposer wasn't doing a damned thing, except pumping big chunks of food down the drain. Piece of shit.
So I tear the thing back out of my sink, and head back to OSH. I tell the customer-service guy I want a different disposer, this one doesn't do shit. No problem. I go back to the selection and pick out a Bone-Crusher, complete with a bald-headeed strongman grimacing on the box. This one is $60, so I have to cough up a little more green. I told the guy how poorly the cheap unit worked, and he just kind of sneered, said, "Yeah, that's the cheapest one."
Somehow, that got me a little embarrassed. I almost felt like I should apologize for buying the base model. Then when I was under the sink I started getting pissed off. What are the implications of this attitude?
The cheapest model of a product can't reasonbly be expected to WORK? I see this notion everywhere; this disposer fiasco is just a singular illustration. The lo-ball should at least be functional, for Pete's sake. Like if I bought a Kia, I would expect a few things- it should start, drive, and stop. Could you imagine returning your Kia after a few days, because the brakes failed? And the manager says, "Well, it IS a pretty cheap car, what do you expect? Maybe you should spend a little more to get a car that works."

If everybody knows the cheapie is a useless piece of shit, WHY DOES IT EXIST? Is the lo-ball model only there so that price-shoppers will buy it, even though it doesn't work? Hey, Dick Tracy- if it didn't exist, I would have bought the $60 BoneCrusher in the first fucking place, and would have only installed a disposer in my sink ONCE. The difference is, the BoneCrusher is a functional garbage disposer, and the little Kenmore is a whirring motor that clogs my sink. Who decided to make it?
[Marketing Meeting]
"Fellas, we're not selling enough widgets. We need to move widget prices down, to include more prospective buyers."
"Our base widget is as cheap as we can go already."
"Hey! Let's make one that doesn't even WORK! We could sell THAT fucker for a LOT less!"
"We'll put it in ugly packaging and just SIT it next to the real widgets, with a low-ball price on it. You know, not even really PUSH it, just let the price talk. That way, when people get it home, they'll be ashamed that they even bought it! They won't even return it! They'll just come back and buy a REAL widget if they really need one."
"Right, right, like it was THEIR fault for buying the lo-ball... oh this is BRILLIANT!"
People are selling things that don't even PRETEND to work, simultaneously blaming the consumer for being dumb enough to buy the product in the first place. And people actually WONDER why I'm so bitter.

Gallstone Index

Situation Room

Front Door