This post was originally published in October 2009.
Fall is my favourite time of the year…except for the fact that raking leaves seems to be an effort in futility.
Recently, I decided to follow my neighbour’s lead and get one of those plastic fan rakes that has twice the fan size as a normal rake. Light, but double in size, it implicitly promised that I’d be able to finish my weekend chore in about half the time (or 3 hours instead of 6….yes, we have lots of trees!). The rake worked well, at least that is, until the final 30 minutes when the plastic cracked and rendered the rake completely useless. The irony? I had purchased the rake less than 1 day earlier in part because it promised a 25-year limited warranty in a boldly-emblazoned logo on the label. Twenty-five years? Not quite.
Either I am much stronger than I thought – wielding a plastic fan rake with the force of an Olympian hammer-thrower OR the manufacturer simply ‘bet’ on the over-promise approach to marketing. Here’s how it works: offer an impressive soundbyte to obscure the less-than-impressive quality. Advertising historians know there are a slew of phrases and headlines that work this trick. Perhaps the manufacturer reasoned that the product would last at least one season, after which I’d have forgotten about its original promise at the point-of-purchase: that promise of a lifetime of raking in half the time of traditional fan rakes. I returned the product to the retailer for a full-refund, less than 24 hours after I bought it. A no-hassle return policy is no substitute for selling quality merchandise at a fair price. Still, I give ‘props’ to the retailer for a painless return experience, even if it did miss an opportunity to go beyond simply ‘undoing a wrong’.
The Bottom Line
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