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Tuesday, February 25, 2014


Clyde, my dad. He died at age 47 in 1965.
My dad told me a story once: A guy is walking down the street and he sees a sign in the window of a tailor shop:


So the guy looks at his wrinkled pants and thinks, "Wow, what a great deal." He goes in and tells the tailor,  "I want my pants pressed."

After he removes them in the dressing room, the tailor takes, presses and returns the pants just like new. "That will be $3," he says.

"WHAT!" the man responds. "Your sign in the window says press pants free."

"You didn't see the question mark?" the tailor asked. "The sign says, WHAT DO YOU THINK,  PANTS PRESSED FREE?"

If it's too good to be true, it probably isn't true. Or, if it is true, it won't be for long because this is today and everyone knows we have shown a tendency to ruin a good thing if we keep trying.

So, is that cynical enough for you?

Then what do you believe: Shipped for free. Guaranteed to last. Our products are guaranteed to
give 100% satisfaction in every way. Return anything purchased from us at anytime if it proves otherwise. We do not want you to have anything from L.L.Bean that is not completely satisfactory.

Now THAT'S a guarantee you can count on from a company that has been succeeding in business for more than 100 years! Orvis, Patigonia and Marmot are holding on to similar policies despite customer abuse.

We often work really hard to ruin a good thing... and sadly, it doesn't take many to ruin it for all. A number of such gracious policies have been altered as not sustainable because they are regularly taken advantage of by a crass "I'm more special than you are," minority.

REI, which once had the endearing nickname, 'Return Everything Inc.' has had to change its open return policy because of such abuse. Many hundreds of returned items are stacked in storage bins or hanging on racks and many more are lining shelf after shelf, all with tags that detail customer complaints.

"Doesn't fit well," is the story of women's clogs, so worn that the original design has faded.
"Not sexy enough," says another long ago, well-worn purchase tag. REI's 'No questions asked' return policy even honored a current value return of a snow suit  bought in 1970 to climb Mt. Rainier.

One man returned a 2004 backpack that had seen extensive use because it "was getting old and dirty, and I didn't like it anymore." REI sent him a brand new one plus $17 in cash as the difference in price the man originally paid. Then, the man returned that one for a newer model. REI has received 'knock-off' products, items bought at garage sales or taken from garbage dumps and returned for refunds. Some have bragged in on-line message boards of using REI  return dollars like an ATM for rent and college tuition.

Patagonia recently received a backpack and shirt that was shredded after the wearer was stabbed while on vacation in Egypt. Another got a new backpack when rescue workers had to cut his old one off while saving his life in a rock climbing accident.

"The culture has changed over the years and now people will take advantage of any opportunity they can," say one loyal REI customer.

Recently even Disney theme parks have been forced to make important policy changes. No longer will families with disabled children be afforded line-cutting privileges because so many healthy families game the system. They say some of its members are ill or disabled so they don't have to wait in line. And some wealthy parents have even gone to hiring disabled 'tour guides' to be first. A number without special needs are renting unnecessary wheel chairs. "The honor system, evidently, is obsolete," one observed.

"And what of those children who really do need their wheelchairs of leg braces?" asks a Wall Street Journal article. "Those are the children whose fragile medical conditions make a day at a Disney park a rare and wonderful, but tenuous and wearying, occasion. Their parents can say to them, truthfully: The reason the rules have changed is that some other mothers and fathers told their children to pretend their lives are as hard as yours."

There should be a name for those who feel strongly that THEY are the only important ones. These are the 'gamers' of life, those who are so special that others can even pick up their garbage thrown on the highways of life. I disgustingly call them Litterers of Life.

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