There is a saying on this side of the pond, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Now, while I admit that there are exceptions to this, for the most part I find it to be sage advice. A few examples …
Recently Proctor and Gamble, the makers of Tide laundry detergent, decided to re-design the lids to their Tide Pods product. There was nothing wrong with the old lid. I buy the 150 count container once a month, and have never once had a complaint about the lid … until two months ago. Used to be, the lid had a little indentation in which to place your thumb, then simply pop the hinged top up, grab a pod and give the lid a little push to close it again. Simple and can be done with one hand, since the other hand is typically otherwise occupied.
But then … some bozo over at P&G with too much time in his hands said to no one in particular, “Hey, I got an idea … let’s make the lids on Tide Pods impossible to open!” And somebody else with a budget bigger than their brains thought it was a wonderful idea, and it took off from there. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in r&d costs later, the idea was good to go. P&G spent a few more hundreds of thousands to re-tool their assembly line in order to manufacture …
A child-proof lid! Whoa … I did not realize that so many children were into eating laundry detergent! And wait, is it too much trouble for parents of small children to place their pods on a shelf above the washing machine so that the tots cannot reach it? I know, I hear you shaking your heads and saying, “What the heck is she prattling about now – what’s the big deal?”
Well, let me tell you the big deal, friends! The lid is made such that one must either have very large, strong hands, else use two hands, and even then it is difficult to open. The two “press here” spots are about six inches apart and are very difficult to press in. They are obviously made for someone of Paul Bunyan’s stature, but I have small, arthritic hands and I cannot open this! My solution has been to use a sharp knife to break the lid off completely, throw the lid away and leave the pods on the rack shelf next to the washer/dryer uncovered. It is the only way!
Toaster Scrambles, made by Pillsbury, are one of the few processed foods that I even buy, for I am a firm believer that ‘made from scratch’ is tastier, more economical and healthier. But, when it comes to breakfast, if I cannot grab something quick, simple & tasty, I just skip the meal altogether and wait for supper (I don’t do lunch … ever!). So, I keep a few such things around, coffee-flavoured yogurt, granola, instant oatmeal and toaster scrambles. I like these …
But then, Pillsbury decided to change it around a bit. They added potatoes.
WHY??? To cut the cost of the product, of course! Potatoes are cheaper than eggs, cheese, bacon or sausage, so if they added potatoes, they could cut back on the more expensive ingredients. They also cut back on the flavour, and now I honestly cannot tell the difference in taste between the pastry itself and the cardboard box it comes in! I’m going back to my banana-walnut oatmeal with a dollop of peanut-butter.
I actually sent Pillsbury an email telling them that I was disgusted with the new product and would not buy them again. I received a canned response thanking me for taking the time to write.
Recently the maintenance crew where I live came along and, without so much as asking if I would like new faucet aerators, installed them in all three bathroom sinks and the kitchen, as well as new shower heads in the two upstairs baths. These devices are supposedly ‘new and improved’ and will save on water. Sigh. The old ones worked fine, in fact, about a year ago I had replaced all the bathroom sink aerators, and I replace the one in the kitchen from time-to-time. No, I am not a plumber by trade, but I know my way around the workings of faucets, drains and toilets. Feel free to call me anytime … I make house calls.
So, after the maintenance dudes did all this, I went to the sink, turned the water on, and wondered what that was coming out of the spigot … a stream of bird pee, perhaps? I held my hands under it and within about 30 seconds, they were actually wet enough to apply soap! Before, I could fill my kitchen sink in about a minute, but with this new and improved aerator, it took fully 5 minutes!!! Now, how the sam hell is this saving water? On to the shower … AAAAAARRRRRGGGGGHHH!!! It took three times as long to wash my body, then about 2-3 minutes to get my hair wet enough to apply shampoo, then another 2-3 minutes to get all the suds out. I didn’t even bother with conditioner.
Even tooth-brushing was a challenge!
Suffice it to say that both shower heads and all four faucet aerators have now been replaced with ones that actually work. Note, please, that I am all for conserving water, and I try very hard to do so, but when I spend 4 times longer in the shower, it did not save any water, and it did likely shorten my expected life span!
These were just three such cases that have set my teeth on edge lately, though I could no doubt think of many more, given time and space. There is, of course, the opposite argument that is best stated in this cartoon …