RECOGNISING STUPIDITY WHEN I COME ACROSS IT
like my late father before me, I find that there are certain aspects of life that are just so stupid, that you can’t help but become agitated and very outspoken when one of these “stupidities” comes to light.
I actually have a real knack for recognising stupid issues, and that realisation came home to me in a quite surreal experience I had at a Guitar Craft course held in Ojai, California back in the 1990s. It was a very good course, with mostly good weather, and we got to listen to Robert Fripp rehearse his Soundscapes, not to mention hearing an early DAT of the then non-existent King Crimson album “Vrooom”, which of course preceeded the album “proper” which is the even more awesome “THRAK”.
but i digress, the incident that confirmed to me that I do have a real knack or propensity, if you will, for seeing stupidity for what it is, and usually, confronting it head on….started like this:
A GUITAR CRAFT STORY
The course was in a lovely, big house on a lovely big green hilltop, a grassy hilltop lawn that of couse, being in California, was fully equipped with sprinklers, which went off automatically at pre-set intervals, to keep that hilltop lawn watered and healthy and looking good. That is absolutely standard practice in southern California, because, if you don’t water…your lawn, and / or your plants, turn brown and then die. California, after all, is basically, an artificially-irrigated desert, with water piped in from other states! – from many hundreds of miles away.
part way through the course, on a rare rainy day, where it was raining pretty hard, but in that warm kind of unconvincing California way… I believe it was just before lunch, and the whole group, including Robert were sitting in silence (as you do quite often at Guitar Craft) and of course, if you are not quiet inwardly (as I often wasn’t) your attention may start to wander, and I confess that at this point, where a long, uneasy silence was waiting to hopefully, become a proper silence…I was looking out the window, watching the rain and looking at the plants and the lawn.
the silence went on and on, and after an uncomfortably long time, suddenly, Robert spoke: “can anyone” (he said, addressing the entire course) “give me an example of real stupidity that is going on here, right now” and he sort of, gazed up and around the room.
confused silence was the first response, while people tried to think if perhaps, THEY had done something stupid earlier on, and now here was Robert Fripp calling them out? You could sense some rising panic in some of the faces…but no one answered.
then, the answer smacked me right in the brain, that Stafford tradition (my Dad would have been so proud of me!!!!) came back and I blurted out “the sprinklers”. “The sprinklers are on, watering, while its pouring with rain”. I added.
“Thats right, the sprinklers” Robert agreed.
And of course, thats pretty much the only time that I had the answer when the gathered elders of Guitar Craft did not, so I was pleased that I’d seen it so quickly. And no one except Robert had a clue, it is just one of those things that people born in California, are used to seeing, all the time, all of your life.
And, it IS a pretty stupid thing, to have your sprinklers busily overwatering your lawn, and indeed, the combination of a substantial rainfall and the powerful large radius-coverage sprinklers running at the same time, could and often did turn your lawn into a green soaking wet sludge – serious over watering can occur.
I have told this story before, in a more abbreviated form, and I apologise if you have heard it before – but it was necessary for me to restate my “credentials” as a more than “averagely aware of stupidity” kind of person. I see stupidity in many designs, processes, and even in well establish practices, where people are doing activities in a particularly stupid way, when a much better way is or at least, might be available.
for example – sprinkler systems that can be overridden and can be programmed NOT to turn on, in the case of rain.
clearly, the owner of that nice house on the hill in Ojai, was unaware of this possibility, and because of that, would be always overwatering his lawn and plants when the sprinklers regularly came on while it was raining!
Stupidity at work, in the universe…a perfect example, and both Robert Fripp and I, while looking out the window at the garden in the pouring rain, had realised what was going on just outside the room, while the other fifty five people were only thinking inside the room, or, hadn’t noticed or, hadn’t realised – that a really stupid thing was going on, right then and there – but outside, not inside!
It’s a day I’ve never forgotten, not only because I knew the answer when RF was the only other person who did, but because it was a great course, and my “Stupidity Detector” was clearly working better than it ever had done before. A very useful tool, being able to recognise stupidity when you see it – and, if you look around, you will often find that its … EVERYWHERE!!
So what does this long and somewhat tedious Guitar Craft story have to do with today’s blog? Not a lot, really, except perhaps, to establish that I have this knack, this ability to spot stupid practices, and that, coupled with some forty years in the business world, makes me the Customer From Hell, when companies have to deal with me.
THE ISSUE IN QUESTION
Today’s blog, however, is not about a gentle, somewhat forgivable stupidity such as watering your lawn while its raining…no, today’s blog is about something much, much stupider than that – and therefore, a hundred times more irritating because the stupidity actually has a real, negative effect on you.
I am writing today about a very specific “policy” that a particular music store has, which is, in short: supplying the wrong type of power supply with almost every guitar effects unit they sell: a European power supply with round pins that cannot be plugged into the wall in the UK! (where we use flat pin power supplies only). To me, this “policy”…is right up there on my “stupidity radar” – supplying a useless power supply that could only work in Europe…in the UK.
a) it is a policy that makes NO logical sense – and the stream of useless Euro power supplies arriving every few months – utterly useless
b) I am sick and tired of ARGUING about it each time I make a purchase – and, an important point here – having to ask in the first place is bang out of order – when it SHOULD HAVE BEEN in the box when it arrived!!
Life is literally too short for me to waste my time railing against such a stupid thing – and they, unwilling to do as I, the customer politely asks again and again – well, the most recent sale they made to me – will be the last bit of business they get from me…I need vendors that will work with me on this.
Not, fight me tooth and nail when I try to get a useable power supply for my effects unit – that I have already paid for (it is part of the effect units’ purchase price)
Meanwhile, I have grown so frustrated with this “policy” over the past six or seven years (!!!!!!!) that I have recently reached the point where I told them that, if they were unwilling to continue to make the situation right, each time I make a purchase of an effects pedal from them (containing a European supply), that they will no longer get my repeat business or any of my business, because I refuse to participate in this specific power supply stupidity any more!
I’d like now, to ask you a few simple rhetorical questions:
Note: today’s “stupidity” only occurs in the United Kingdom to my knowledge. It does not occur in Europe or elsewhere that I know of. This is important to remember.
So – UK residents only, then – when you buy a new toaster (or any small appliance) do you expect it to have a UK style plug (flat blades, three pronged) attached, so you can plug it in the moment you get home, and have some nice toast with your cuppa tea?
when you buy a new iron, do you expect it to have a UK style plug attached, the correct flat-bladed UK style plug, so that when you get home, you can plug that iron in right awaty, and get your three week backlog of ironing done in a jiffy?
when you buy a new hair dryer, do you expect to be able to plug it into the wall, and dry your soaking wet hair right away, without waiting?
when you buy a new alarm clock, do you expect a UK style plug attached right to it, so you can plug it in straight away, set the alarm, and then get woken up ever so gently to the quiet strains of Rammstein’s “Zwitters” blasting out at 6:05 a.m., at volume 10…?
when you buy a new Hoover, you expect it to have its UK style flat bladed plug already attached, so when you get home, you can plug it in straight away, and hoover your dirty ole carpets to yer heart’s content?
If you got a new set of hair straighteners, you would definitely want to go hone and plug them straight into your UK 230 volt wall outlet, so you can then wait for them to heat up, and straighten your hair to PERFECTION??
Let’s go large now, you finally bought that brand new washing machine you wanted, and I just know you will expect that it will come with a UK style plug already attached, so you can plug it straight into the wall outlet, hook up the water, and wash all those dirty clothes that have piled up everywhere??
I think you can see the everyday truth in the above statements. Nothing tricky about them – just ordinary appliance purchases and expectations.
You may have gathered that I am making a point, and I am, and yes, OK I have rather belaboured that point (apologies)…but there is a reason for the many, many examples of ordinary electrical appliances both small and large – so that we can establish that for any electrical item that you buy in the United Kingdom, you have developed the perfectly reasonable expectation that the moment you get it home, whatever it is – you can plug it in, and start using it immediately.
What if that were NOT the case? What if, you brought that toaster home, and it didn’t have a UK plug on it, or with it, so you couldn’t plug it into your common, ordinary, garden UK 230v outlet – in fact – you couldn’t plug it in anywhere in the UK.
First of all – that would make you feel very frustrated, because, you couldn’t feed that horde of screaming children waiting for their morning toast. You would all starve, or at least you’d be eating untoasted bread which is almost as bad – when you want toast. and it goes on for days and days and days – no toast, and a useless, cold toaster.
That scenario is pretty unpleasant, but let me take this story one step further. Let’s say that on that same day, the day you got home, took that toaster out of the box, and THEN realised that you couldn’t plug it in…that you rang up the store you bought it from, and asked them to please provide a proper UK plug, and they said, yeah, OK we’ll do that, you will get it in a couple of days.
Three days go by, with no toast made, that toaster not lighting up at all. The toaster is dead. The promised UK plug does NOT arrive. You ring the store again, they say they will send the plug…so now three weeks have gone by and you still have no working toaster and no plug from the store…
After many calls, much argument with the store, pleading, cajoling…You reach the three month mark…THREE MONTHS WITHOUT TOAST…and finally, you get a UK style plug for your toaster delivered, finally sent by the store at long, long last.
And if the children haven’t all starved by now, they finally get some toast – but you’ve been through three months of hell trying to get the store to make things right for you, and you really begin to question your sanity. You have argued calmly that it should have had a UK plug all along, but, the store seem unconcerned, and they also seem bent on supplying the NEXT item you buy from them…with ANOTHER useless Euro style plug. Repeat of same scenario above.
Now, I could build a similar scenario for each and every item above, but it would take far too long, and I think the toaster example is a good enough example.
Three months without being able to plug in your new toaster? Can you imagine?
Now – with the above everyday analogies, I’ve set up the background here, I’ve created practical examples of how it would feel if you got home to find that you could not plug your new toaster in, and then, the store you got this rather useless appliance from, took over three months to make it possible for you to plug it in and finally have some toast.
How would that make you feel?
IT’S BEEN MY EXPERIENCE…THAT WHEN THE ROW GETS SERIOUS…
A CERTAIN SILENCE WILL FALL.
How would that make you feel??
Now – that is a question.
Unfortunately, I can answer that question. I can provide in fact, a first hand account of exactly this “toaster experience” but with something else in the way of “small electrics” that I regularly purchase: effects pedals for guitar.
For the past several years, I’ve been purchasing the odd guitar pedal or two, and often from one of my favourite stores, DV24/7. They were, and are, a good store – they delivered quickly, they always had the lowest price, and eventually, they got all of my business.
Until a few days ago, when I reached such a point of impatience and sheer frustration with their attitude regarding the power supplies for said guitar effects – that I’ve told them that I will be taking my business, my REPEAT business, to another guitar store. ANY OTHER STORE. One that will truly want AND truly appreciate (not just say that they appreciate, but ACTUALLY appreciate) my repeat business. GAK, Dolphin, I really do not care. Just – no more Euro power supplies. Please.
I must have at least six of these useless Lumps Of Plastic with round pins sticking out of them, cluttering up my storage area at home. They are worthless in the UK, sadly, they would be quite handy for any number of young guitarists in Europe. I have enough for a whole Euro power pedalboard. In Europe. Where I don’t live.
They are doing me not one whit of good unless you think it’s perhaps, a good reminder from myself to myself to say NEVER AGAIN to accepting a Euro style power supply for any UK-purchase / UK-use electrical appliance or guitar effect pedal. Ever.
DV24/7 refused to listen to the pure logic I presented to them regarding this very, very stupid “policy” of theirs – which is this:
Each effects unit they sell IN THE UNITED KINGDOM, comes supplied with a power supply (as intended by the manufacturers – who meant for the correct-country power supply to come with each pedal, it is included in the PURCHASE PRICE!) but with a twist; its a EUROPEAN power supply that DV24/7 regularly send to their UK CUSTOMERS. That cannot be plugged into ANY power outlet IN THE UNITED KINGDOM. Now – where, exactly, is the logic or sense in THAT?
Answer? There is no logic present in this odd policy of supplying useless / wrong power supplies with each effects pedal sale. If I just shelled out £400.00 for a really nifty pedal, it had darn well come with the CORRECT, USEFUL POWER SUPPLY. That will plug into one of the many UK OUTLETS that I have in my UK HOUSE.
TALK ABOUT SPOILING YOUR ENJOYMENT!
So, you’ve finally decided to buy your first Eventide H9, a truly powerful and exciting new guitar effects device – you order it from DV24/7; it arrives in a day or two..
but…BUT…it comes supplied with a EUROPEAN power supply. So all that anticipation, all the excitement – dies, because you cannot PLUG IT IN. So you then get to LOOK at it, but not use it, or hear it, for several days or even weeks, while you impatiently wait for the store to send you the right, usable power supply. After the fact, after the purchase….”oh please, kind sir, may I have a UK power supply so I csn actually USE my guitar effect??”.
Now, the first few times this happened, I would just ring or email them , and say “can you please send me a UK power supply for this REALLY EXPENSIVE pedal i just bought from you?”. And – generally, they would. I just had to ask. (Not my job, really, but, whatever).
And I would then have to wait, a few days, a week, whatever, and the power supply arrives – so I can FINALLY plug in my brand new effects pedal. Finally use it, finally hear it – at last. But it is just not the same, as being able to plug it in the moment it arrives…nope. A third-rate experience at best. Sheer frustration and mounting anger at the worst end of the “DV experience” 🙂
After this had gone on for some five years, let’s say, they started resisting me when I would insist on the proper UK power supply, and then finally, just a couple of weeks ago now, their salesperson told me, in an email, no less “you will have to accept that some of these effects (read: all of these effects) will come with a Euro adapter, and we may then provide a UK plug adapter with the Euro power supply”.
And, that, dear reader, was the wrong thing to say to me. my reply was “Salesperson’s Name Here, I must certainly do not “have to ACCEPT” anything – “I am the customer, and, you’ve set a precedent with me, i.e, you have been supplying me with the proper UK adapter, AFTER each effects sale, with NO ARGUMENT, and at no charge for several YEARS NOW – and now, you are reneging on that, and saying that I MUST ACCEPT Euro plugs, and a crappy plastic ‘plug adapter’ to go with it ! – no thank you, and furthermore, I refuse to trust my really expensive device to a £1.79 plastic UK plug adapter”.
So because they instigated this new “policy”, where they no LONGER supply the proper UK power supply at request or at no charge…which they had done for about five years out of the six OR seven years (or more) I’ve been buying from them, I’ve had enough – more than enough of their attitude – and if it costs them money, to supply what should have been in the box all along – well, that is NOT my problem.
I was a good, repeat business customer, a good one – but over the past two years, I’ve had to argue, argue, argue, and eventually they would reluctantly send me a UK power supply for the device I had just bought.
I got really tired of the whole subject. I even called the UK store manager in Romford, and had a long talk with him about..about just how incredibly STUPID (THERE IT IS….THE ‘S’ WORD) the policy of sending Euro plugs (aka, something that in the UK, MAY AS WELL BE A LUMP OF USELESS PLASTIC WITH SOME ROUND PINS STICKING OUT OF IT) – and he agreed it wasn’t the most brilliant policy, but I thought we had reached an agreement, that they would continue to supply them to me when I ask for them…but I was wrong.
not so. In fact, after the last conversation with the boss, it was then that I waited THREE MONTHS for a UK adapter to arrive for my Ground Control Pro. Almost as if he had told them to drag their feet…
But not long after that, the real arguments started, and the salesman started telling me what I “MUST ACCEPT”.
That was the signal for me to end my relationship with DV24/7 (except of course, in the event of me needing to use one of my many, many, three year warranties that I have with them for a number of my effects devices).
So the income and the profit from sales to me have how stopped, permanently, they claimed, in an email that they “valued my repeat business” but basically, I would have to accept Euro plugs with UK plug adapters…so from that threat, I could tell that clearly, they do NOT value my repeat business at all.
If they did, the precedent set six or seven years ago, would still be in place, and I would still get a proper UK power supply for each device I purchased. But – no more
All the other stores, I will be completely honest with them going forward: I will EXPECT a UK adapter with each pedal I purchase – or, I will give the business to the vendor who will happily say “yes” to that humble, simple request.
WHAT THE MANUFACTURERS MEANT TO HAPPEN
(and what they supply to MAKE it happen in the different markets)
As if the all of the above wasn’t enough, now, please consider this:
Each manufacturer, for example, Eventide (USA based) or Electro-Harmonix (USA based) has included in the price of their effects pedal, a working power supply for that device, which should be different for each non-USA country it is sold in.
So let’s imagine that you bought a pedal from a well known online store in the USA, and you LIVE in the USA.
Let’s say it’s that Eventide H9 I mentioned earlier. You would receive that H9 in a box, with a US style two-flat-bladed-plugs-bearing power supply. You open the box; you plug that two prong flat bladed US style plug directly into the nearest 110v US outlet in your US home – And you are instantly delighting in the beauty of the H9 experience.
So let’s now imagine that you bought a pedal from a well known online store in Germany, and, YOU live in Germany…or anywhere in Europe except the UK.
Let’s say it’s that Eventide H9 I mentioned earlier. You would receive that H9 in a box, with a Euro style two-round-pins-plug bearing power supply. You open the box; you plug that two round pin style plug directly into the nearest 220v German outlet in your German home – And, you are instantly delighting in the beauty of the H9 experience.
Repeat above paragraph for Japanese market.
Repeat above paragraph for South American market.
Repeat above paragraph for any non-UK market.
Finally – let’s now imagine that you bought a pedal from a well known online store in the UK, and, YOU live in the UK.
Let’s say it’s that Eventide H9 I mentioned earlier. You would receive that H9 in a box, BUT, much to your everlasting astonishment – instead of the 3-flat-bladed UK style power supply you expected (just as with your toaster, your hair dryer, your washing machine, your hoover…) but instead, to your ultimate dismay – you find, inexplicably, that you have instead been sent – a Euro style two-round-pins-plug bearing power supply.
You open the box; you remove the wrongly supplied Euro power supply in disbelief, which you cannot plug in anywhere in the country you live in – And, you now have no idea what the H9 SOUNDS like, because you cannot plug it INTO THE WALL as you can in every OTHER COUNTRY ON THE PLANET. And – you DO NOT GET TO DELIGHT in the beauty of the H9 experience. Not for days or weeks or latterly, apparently – ever.
Eventide MEANT for you to get that box, open it, plug the RIGHT power supply into the proper outlet, and play your guitar through their pedal. Immediately. You PAID for that, you paid for the good experience, the one where you get to actually use the pedal you just bought.
No..not here in the UK. Instead…you get argument. You spend literally hours, emailing, calling the DV24/7 boss AGAIN to complain.
THE LAST STRAW
There is one remaining wee story to tell. And that story is about a device that I bought from DV24/7 … LAST YEAR.
I bought a new Voodoo Labs Ground Control Plus MIDI controller from DV24/7 in late October or early November – the actual date isnt really important.
you’ll never guess, to my amazement…it TOO, like the Eventides and the Electro-Harmonix pedals before it, the Ground Control Pro arrived…with a Euro style round pin power supply – with a twist, it was an AC adapter (rather than the much more common DC adapter), with a higher current requirement than most pedals have. Still useless though…I did say “Euro” and “round pins”.
So standard procedure, I rang up or emailed DV24/7 and said “please send me the correct voltage Voodoo Labs UK power supply for my Ground Control Pro”. I got argument and stalling. I rang the boss yet again, applied pressure verbally…he promised they would send the adapter.
still no adapter. Christmas passed. I cajoled, I asked nicely, I became irritated…no result.
New Year passed. I wrote again, this time simply saying “appalling customer service, making a good, repeat customer wait OVER THREE MONTHS for a lousy power supply that costs £2.00 to produce in Asia…you ought to be ashamed”.
Nothing.. No response to my emails anymore.
then, tonight, on January 20th, having waited thru November, thru December and thru most of January with no power supply – when I got home, a small box from DV24/7 had been delivered to my neighbour. I went to retrieve it. Finally – and, by the way, NOT a Voodoo Labs supply at all, but the cheapest of the cheap generic type adapter, BUT the right voltage 9 volts AC at 500 ma – so theoretically usable with the Ground Control.
The adapter was promised over and over, the salesman promied, then his BOSS promised it, and it didn’t arrive.
I doubt it was my “you ought to be ashamed” message that finally caused it to ship to me – but it should have been.
They still owe me a power supply for an EHX pedal I bought recently. But we shall see what happens with that one. But, I won’t expend the least bit of effort on DV24/7 any more, no more chasing down a power supply EVERY SINGLE TIME I BOUGHT SOMETHING. For SEVEN YEARS.
A SIMPLE, SIMPLE SOLUTION EXISTS
DV24/7 have some internal “problem” where some their stock that is to be sold in the UK, comes from Europe, and it has Euro plugs in it. But guess what – the manufacturers make at least four different adapters, that are supposed to be sold in the US, the UK, Europe, and Japan. So – you, as the distributor of these products, are supposed to be SMART ENOUGH to order the right boxes with the right adapters for each country you are selling them in.
A quick example of a smart policy:
You are a big music store with stores in Europe and in the UK. Sales are roughly equivalent in both areas, so, instead of buying 1000 boxes of EURO Eventude H9s, you order instead, 500 boxes of Euro H9s (which you sell in EUROPE) and 500 boxes of UK BOXES, (which you sell IN THE UNITED KINGDOM). Simple.
Under my clever scheme (see above) the customers in BOTH Europe AND the UK END UP WITH THE CORRECT POWER SUPPLY when they receive their order. Rejoicing. No more phone calls. No more emails. No more arguing with customers. No more customers so traumatised by their never-ending NEGATIVE EXPERIENCE AT DV24/7 that they finally just say NO MORE.
Now – clearly, their purchasing department wasn’t smart, and all their pedals are in EURO boxes. So this won’t ever end, with DV.
BUT INSTEAD of them making their problem by MY problem, and pawning off their unwanted garbage/Euro Lumps Of Plastic onto UK customers who DO NOT WANT THEM…instead of you making your problem be my problem…why don’t you just SOLVE the problem, and buy the boxes with effects with UK power supplies in them, to SELL IN THE UNITED KINGDOM???
by the way: I ***HATE*** it, when companies, or people, make THEIR PROBLEM be MY PROBLEM. I refuse to allow that. My time is too valuable, too precious to waste on the “Euro round pin power supply game”. It is a game that sucks, I can tell you that much for free.
THE REAL INTENTIONS OF THE EFFECTS’ MANUFACTURERS
Remember, the manufacturers, WANT YOU not only to get a power supply with your device, but, they WANTED for it to have a power supply with it, that meets the following criteria (you PAID for all this – it is included in the effect’s price!!!!):
a) fits the outlets in your country
b) supplies the right voltage and has the correct current handling requirements for your device and your country’s power outlets
c) you PAID FOR THAT privilege, to be able to plug right in and enjoy your purchase – whereas, I got to LOOK at how nice my new effects looked, for many days, while I waited for the “afterthought” correct UK adapter to arrive – and, looking is not HEARING or ENJOYING, is it?? and
d) they did NOT intend for you to receive the WRONG PLUG type, that does NOT plug in, in your country, and is, to a UK customer anyway, a useless LUMP OF PLASTIC with two round pins sticking our of it.
i rest my case. As Bryan Ferry once said “don’t let this happen to you!!”
I told you I could find the STUPID stuff.
peace and love and UK POWER SUPPLIES FOR ALL!!!!