Friday, September 4, 2009

Penny Wise, Pound Foolish

Penny wise, pound foolish is one of my pet peeves. Drives me crazy when other people do it. This week, I drove myself crazy with this folly.

Last week while on vacation, my cell phone sustained some damage. Let's just say it's very, very clean. Because it went through the clothes washer. And dryer. That's how I learned it had gone through the washer, actually, when my friends and I determined that "funny noise" coming from the dryer was actually my cell phone. You can imagine the exclamation that went through my head at this point.

Sadly, my first thought was that I was never, ever going to live this down, since this is actually the second time I've drowned a phone on vacation. Last time it was snorkeling in Hawaii. Seriously, as I was leaving for vacation, one of my friends reminded me to check my pockets before going swimming. Remarkably, although salt water completely fried the last phone, this laundered phone was actually working the next morning.

After another day or two, it became clear that the phone was going to be just fine but the battery was toast. Well, that's livable, right? Sure it is. As long as it's convenient to always be within 5 feet of an outlet when you want to talk on the phone. Or if you want to spend more on a replacement battery than you did on the phone to start with.

Here's where I got crabby. My phone was free, but prices to replace the battery started at $40 from the cell phone company. Online, I could find a relative bargain price of $6-13, plus shipping. The highest price was $50, and that salesperson recommended I contact my provider to see if I was eligible for upgrade. So I stopped by the nearest giant electronics store and found a $20 battery.

Here's the foolish part: I didn't buy it on the spot. I agonized over parting with $20. Big time. I failed to see that the cost of not spending $20 was significant inconvenience. I was irritated by the crazy pricing and marketing in our culture that means this is not the only situation where it's cheap to make an initial purchase but any small necessities later are astronomically priced to make up for it.

Sheepishly, I returned to the store the next day and bought the $20 battery. I wrestled open the package with my car key and installed the battery into my phone. Much better.

Our family is about to upgrade to new phones, so I hated to spend $20 to keep mine functioning for another week or two, but since it does function... at least I have a backup phone for the next time - heaven forbid - something happens to my phone.

Originally posted at:

No comments:

Post a Comment