Remember the TP Issue? Well, thanks to Mike Cope and his comments on a book called “The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less” by Barry Schwartz, I now know that it’s not my fault. (I love it when other bloggers read a book and blog about it so I don’t actually have to read it.)
From the book:

Even with relatively unimportant decisions, mistakes can take a toll. When you put a lot of time and effort into choosing a restaurant or a place to go on vacation or a new item of clothing, you want that effort to be rewarded with a satisfying result. As options increase, the effort involved in making decisions increases, so mistakes hurt even more. Thus the growth of options and opportunities for choice has three, related, unfortunate effects. It means that decisions require more effort. It makes mistakes more likely. It makes the psychological consequences of mistakes more severe.

Lately, I’ve put a lot of thought into what turned out to be bad choices resulting in serious “psychological consequences”.

  • About a year and a half ago, I spent $600 on a Weider Platinum 800 home gym. We considered treatmills, the Bowflex, the Soloflex and several other options befor settling on the Weider. That thing turned out to be an absolute lemon. From day one, it never worked right and it was a real pain to send back. I did eventually get my money back on that one, but it was painful. Real painful.
  • Last fall, I came accross a ‘too good to pass up’ deal on a set of french patio doors with low-e glass. Our cheap vinyl sliding patio doors had a broken seal that made one pane fog up. These $650 special order doors were returned to Lowes and I picked them up, without the door frame (key detail), for $40. Seemed like a no-brainer. I researched options for building my own frame and ordering one from the door manufacturer. I found I could order the right frame from the door company for $180, so I did. Only after destroying my sliding doors getting them out did I discover that the frame had been made to the wrong, newer dimensional spec and was too small for my doors. I wedged the doors in the hole in our house and had Lowes order a replacement frame. Several weeks later, that frame came in, also wrong. Frame 3 was delivered in kit form, some assembly required, not what I paid for. Frame 4 was finally right, but now it was the dead of winter. So we spent the winter with the doors wedged in the wall and a 2×4 screwed accross our the inside to ‘lock’ them. The doors finally went in this spring (and that 4th frame still needed alterations), but one is permanently warped from spending the winter wedged in a frame that was too small.
  • Last summer we also bought a new vacuum cleaner. I did the research on what one sucks best and settled on a Hoover Wind Tunnel, mainly based on it’s high rating in Consumer Reports. It worked pretty good at first, but I was pretty dissapointed in the design and quality of the components. We found the dirt cup a pain to empty without making a mess and after almost a year, the cord wrap had broken. Then the noises started and the beater bar stopped working and the drive mechanism refused to shut off and, of couse, was now out of warranty. Fed up, we replaced it this summer with a Dyson, which we are very happy with, but that’s fairly 2 pricey vacuums in a little over a year.
  • Also last summer, we bought a shed to augment our tight 2 car garage. I again, scratched my head over which shed to buy, chaep do-it-mysef or pricey installed unit, eventually settling on a Tuff Shed from Home Depot. Pricey compared to some kit sheds, but no more so than the Lowes sheds, The Tuff Shed was much better built thant the Lowes product and I did none of the work. I did have to choose where to put it, and it turns out I had it put on an easement for a natural gas pipeline in our backyard. I had reviewed our lot survey for easements and scratched my head on where to put it, but still missed this 25′ wide easement (not well documented on the maps). Now, this spring, I’ve got to move my shed. At least my decision to buy the Tuff Shed should pay off. Because of its steel frame and solid constuction, it should be relatively easy to move.

So, dispite plenty of research & planning through the myriad of options, none of the choices worked out as planned. So, I wonder if I can get compensation for my emotional distress from all these bad choices?

7 thoughts on “Choices, Choices

  1. Old chainsaw finally died. My dad bought a new one I had never heard of. Did research thought we’d take it back. Went and spent and hour with the salesman and decided to keep it with the hope that I didn’t make the wrong decision. Pulled up the TP analogy but nobody was impressed.
    Bummer about the shed having to be moved. Suppose that means the fence and new gate too!?

  2. Nope, the guy didn’t say anything about the fence. The swing set is on it too, and nothing about that either. I guess the swing set is more movable than a shed and they figure they gotta let folks have a fence. I dunno, I’m going to ask him when he comes out after Thanksgiving to mark the easement.

  3. I remember early in my marriage going to Kroger for some bar soap. I was utterly dumbfounded by the 6-ft by 6-ft shelving area, with all its choices for different soaps. I must have spent a good 30 minutes looking at everything before picking something.
    Nowadays, I usually just get whatever is on sale, the cheapest, or a particular brand I’ve grown accustomed to using.
    As for TP, I’ve learned one thing from being married to a woman – don’t skimp on quality.
    There’s my $0.02.

  4. 1. Always shop the orange store first ;-}
    2. We are going for the Dyson after owning a Wind Tunnel for several years.
    3. Don’t buy a race horse! Trust me they will only cost you money and your wife will say “I told you so.”

  5. Maximize or Satisfice?

    Back in November, I wrote a slightly tongue in cheek post about Mike Cope’s first of three write ups on the book The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less by Barry Schwartz. At the time, I even joked about…

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