This weekend marks the new beginning of Daylight Savings Time. This is being widely publicized because the date was moved up and we will need to change all our systems and clocks manually. Even time comes with an expiration date.
Open your refrigerator and you will see a number of products from milk, to fresh squeezed orange juice, to opened jam: all with an imprinted expiration date. Soda and water come with a "bottled on" date on the containers.
Now go to your medicine cabinet and you find a lot of the same: boxes, (if you're like me very few), containing various pain relievers and cough syrups -- all with their nicely imprinted expiration date. All these products communicate a set of expectations: they will be good for a certain period of time and then you will need to replace them.
What do you experience when you come back from a trip and find that you forgot to dispose of that carton of milk? You throw it away without a second thought. The same happens with medications, especially with those.
Now tell me what happens when your appliance, let's say your water heater goes. Hopefully no harm done, you expected it because everyone knows that a heating coil sitting in water inside a heavy steel tank can last only so long before it corrodes beyond the sacrificial anode rod. Same for roof tiles: you know what the deal is when you make your purchase.
Consumers learned about some of these times from the manufacturers *and* from helpful neighbors and friends, including Consumer Reports. What happens when you make a purchase and do not have that critical piece of information at that time? Would an expiration date make a difference in your buying habits?
My iPod battery just gave in completely: it won't hold a charge at all. I was not an early adopter; I bought it in July 2006, just before I started blogging. It helps me time my running, including the sprints on specific songs of my playlist, and I need it to stay on for a little over one hour at a time. The staff at Best Buy asked me quickly if I wanted to pay for a warranty plan on the device, less than $50, I remember him saying. I was clueless and answered politely that there was no need.
Well, as it turns out there is, isn't there? Now my experience is very diminished by the hassle of having to give up the device for a length of time to have the battery refitted, etc. I'm not sure I'm comfortable with the fact that I might get a "used" iPod back while mine was new. Maybe it's another way to encourage customers to engage the "I want, now" button and go buy a new device.
My experience is not unique, somehow my expectations where not managed well on the onset. And now I'm feeling a bit cheated. If you consider that I come from a culture where Cathedrals from centuries past are still standing, I do wonder about our post industrialist culture. Everything is more convenient, yet things last much less so we can sell more. What do you think?