Economics and the mid-life crisis have much in common: Both dwell on foregone opportunities

C'est la vie; c'est la guerre; c'est la pomme de terre . . . . . . . . . . . . . email: jpalmer at uwo dot ca

. . . . . . . . . . .Richard Posner should be awarded the next Nobel Prize in Economics . . . . . . . . . . . .

Monday, November 14, 2005

The 3 Rs: Rent, (w)Reck, and Return

Over the weekend, I wrote about having been in a big-box electronics store. I was in Future Shop because I was looking for a digital voice recorder to use for recording and podcasting my lectures. The salesman tried to be helpful, but I had some questions he couldn't answer.

He suggested I try their 3-R programme. When I asked what that was, he said,

"Rent, (w)Reck, and Return. At least that's what we call it here at the store. We have a 30-day, no questions-asked, full refund/return policy.

He didn't know how many people use this policy to "rent" a wide-screen HDTV for major events, like the superbowl; I would be surprised if at least some people don't.

It was a handy policy for me (I didn't like the format of the recorder I tried*), but if I knew what I wanted, I might prefer to pay a lower price at an establishment that had lower costs.

Is possible to pay a lower price at a store that does not have such a generous (and costly) return policy? If not, why not?

*The Panasonic US050 is a superb recorder. I tried out by recording a two-hour show I was in, carrying the recorder in my shirt pocket. The automatic volume control worked well and the sensitivity of the microphone was ideal. The problem was that it records in a proprietary format which most people don't have and hence would not be very useful for podcasting lectures; or that file must be converted to a .wav file, which is humongous (about 230 megs for a 2-hour lecture). Next, I'm going to try an Olympus, which records it files in .wma format, which is about half the size of MP3 files.
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