While I was traveling, the freezer quit, and it quit over Labor Day weekend, spoiling a great deal of food. Since I wasn’t there, and my wife was traveling part of that time [elsewhere], we lost a lot of food. Upon my return, I set out to find a replacement. Surely, this could not be that difficult, even where I live, and finding a freezer was not, indeed, difficult. Getting it delivered was the difficult part.
The orange big-box store near us [you know to what I’m referring] had a freezer of the type and size we wanted, and the price was the lowest… but they couldn’t deliver for more than two weeks, and that wouldn’t work because I’d be on the road again, and they only deliver during hours when my wife couldn’t be home [Don’t ever talk to either of us about “cushy hours” for university professors in the performing arts!]. It also took the staff fifteen minutes to figure that out. Another retailer could deliver in four days, and could give me the answers in less than five minutes, but the price was some fifteen percent higher. Except… in either case, carting away the old freezer wasn’t going to be that easy – because the local landfill/waste disposal site won’t take refrigeration equipment until it’s been certified to be drained of its coolant, and that costs more. In the end, I bought the more expensive unit because the “service” supposedly provided for “free” by the large big box outfit would have required waiting almost a month… if I could even count on that.
When I went to upgrade my antique cell phone – only very slightly – I had to wait a half hour for anyone to get to me… and that was at the second cell phone retailer. At the first one, no one even noticed me.
This is far from the first time events such as these have occurred, and while I’m reluctantly willing to pay more for service that reduces the stress in our lives, what bothers me about all this is that I see those kinds of choices vanishing, and the ones remaining becoming more and more highly priced. If you want to take enough clothes on a trip or vacation to provide a choice of what to wear – it’s going to cost you more one way or another. If you want an appliance delivered in a short period of time, it’s going to cost you more. If you need service on your cell phone, you’re going to wait.
At the same time, there are people who need jobs…and for all the increases in employment that the government statistics say are happening, an awful lot of them aren’t getting hired, and those same statistics don’t reveal the true costs of goods and services, which are rising. The result is that we’re all seeing higher prices, less service, and fewer jobs, even as all the economists are claiming we’re moving to a service economy. Come again?