Made In The U.S.A.

What we can learn from my phone.

In Adventures on December 23, 2009 at 12:24 am

You may recall that I bought a cell phone this year. How do you buy an American-made cell phone, you ask? You buy one that has become a “naturalized citizen.” You buy a used phone.

That’s exactly what the site Zendoo does. They buy your junky old cell phone, and then they cell it to somebody else. Like me.

My previous cell phone was so old and awful they didn’t want it. I donated it. The recipient probably threw it away. But that’s not what this is about. This is about my new used Zendoo cell phone, and what we can learn from it as it applies to buying American.

Here’s the thing: I bought a fancy schmancy new/used cell phone from Zendoo, for quite a substantial discount, and got to avoid interacting with my cellular service provider, which is always a bonus. I was happy with this purchase. It was easy, inexpensive, and most of all MITUSA. I was able to re-use someone else’s phone. One man’s trash was this man’s treasure.

But here’s the thing: the phone sucks. It turns off. Randomly. Often. Mid call. Or overnight. Or in my pocket. It’s just off. Off off off. It started doing this monthly. Then weekly. Then daily. Now it’s pretty much constant. Look at the thing wrong and it will turn off right before your eyes.

It sucks.

This brings me to my point. Or points.

First, the obvious: they just don’t make ’em like they used to. This phone is maybe a year old, in total, between the previous owner and me. That’s not exactly ancient history. Yet it behaves as if it were an antique. Is this a function of smaller/faster/cheaper/Chinese-ier phone?

The real issue, though, is that I’m stuck. I can’t really return it. Zendoo’s formerly 30-day return policy is now a 7-day return policy. (The company is “currently closed due to restructuring.”) Months after my purchase, I’m out of luck. And that’s part of the problem with buying used. Or buying MITUSA. Or buying anything outside of the primary buying system–the one that says “make me happy or I’ll shop elsewhere” and is kind of easy because of that. This is a hassle. Even if they would accept the return, it’s a pain to have to return the thing after four months. My last phone survived a couple of years.

Now I have to buy a new phone. And frankly, I’m just going to wait until next year. I’m going to get a new phone. Something moderately schmancy. Something primarily, though, that works. And has a return policy. And won’t be a huge pain in the butt if there’s a problem.

Something not MITUSA.

Which sort of points out the flaws in the system. I want to do the right thing. I want to buy American. I also don’t want to have to put in hours of work for every damn purchase I make. And if you want to regulate your buying, especially by buying American, you have to work at it.

Things would be a whole lot easier–meaning you wouldn’t have to work at it and so you’d be more likely to do it–if manufacturers were making stuff in the USA. But that’s expensive. And we want low prices. And so we won’t get it, no matter how much we want it, until we work for it. It’s one of them there vicious cycles.

You can’t buy American stuff until more stuff is made in America. More stuff won’t be made in America until we start buying it.

See the problem?

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