Thought of the Day: Built to Last

Don’t you miss the days when things were built sturdy, to stand through tough times? To be fair, I’m quite young so maybe I don’t recall much of ‘those days’ but I do remember things like the solid old-school Nokia phones which could survive through any roughs and tumbles thrown their way. Back in school as a teenager, I recall one of my friends telling the story of how she washed her clothes only to eventually look through the washing machine door with dread and helplessness as she realised her phone was in one of the pockets. Long story short – the phone (a Nokia or Sony Erikson I believe) survived.

Of course, they don’t build phones – or literally any product – like that anymore. I mean even the new houses being built across London look a bit suspect compared to their older, Victorian counterparts.

These days it appears price does not always mean longevity so it can be hard to tell what would be a wise investment and what would last longest. Product warranties are getting shorter and shorter – for one, it really doesn’t make sense that you can spend over a grand on a phone – quite a hefty investment for some of us! – that only has a one-year warranty (Yes, Apple I’m looking at you). On top of that, the business models of brands like Apple mean that they start to phase out phones really quickly and at an increasingly fast pace. Your phone may have come out 2-4 years ago and suddenly it’s out of date and barely being sold in shops anymore. So even if you tried to be rebellious, and hold onto your phone as long as you can, you’ll end up being forced to get a new one sooner or later because Apple will stop providing security software support and updates general updates to your phone. This makes your phone vulnerable to attacks or the work of hackers (which I’m sure noooo-one wants.) Such is the capitalist system we live in!

I say that but then again there are brands out there known for their quality products which often then to be very endurant – i.e. Dr. Martins and Birkenstocks. I invested in both this past year and think I’ll be trying to continue to try and intentionally invest more in such brands because, let’s be honest, the hassle of replacing things that break unexpectedly or/and very inconveniently can be stress we really don’t need more of in this life.

If you’re interested in doing the same you may be interested in this Youtube channel which covers this topic. The couple also has a new related channel you can check out here.

I also have a previous blog post on sustainability here which you may fancy reading too 🙂 .

*Photo by Eirik Solheim on Unsplash

Uber Horror stories

I’ve noticed my posts tend to be rather serious and topical so I have decided to do something different and more lighthearted this time around. I mean, we could all use more content like that right now, amirite?

Even today as I write this, I just today experienced a less than satisfactory Uber trip where the driver ended up dropping me around the block from the actual destination. He apologised saying he doesn’t know the area very well and I got out the car and walked it to my brother’s house which was the destination concerned. It can be very annoying when drivers don’t know the local area very well but that’s only one of a host of frustrations when it comes to booking an Uber.

Although many drivers have 4+ stars it’s really not accurate reflection of their service. Many just give high ratings to their drivers because it’s a much longer process to try and explain via the app why you want to mark them down. If their driving was dodgy or dangerous, the car smelt or you were sexually harassed – how do do such situations justice through the vague categories you’re forced to choose via the complaints menu on the app?

I remember getting an Uber from Kings Cross station (North London) one time in the evening. I can’t remember the events of the day, I just remember it had been a long day, I was tired and not willing to battle the public on public transport in order to get home. I ordered an Uber and stood rather awkwardly at the edge of the pavement on a busy junction waiting for it to arrive. I suddenly received a notice saying the car was nearby so I put my attention to detail glasses on and started analysing passing car number plates. Next thing I know the car was darting passed me and driving down an adjoining road which is NOT what I placed as the meeting point. Knowing you only have two minutes to enter the car before the ride is cancelled I called him in an attempt to get him to drive up again and nearer towards me. Maybe 5-7 minutes later I finally get in the car, sweaty and frustrated. It’s a shared Uber so a male stranger is casually spread out in the front passenger seat and gives me an amused stare as I enter. The driver turns to be and says he’s so sorry but I have to exit because my order has been cancelled.

AFTER ALL THAT. I really could not explain the frustration I felt on that day. A fire breathing dragon is an accurate visual image right now if you want to try and imagine the rage and annoyance I was feeling. Once I was standing on the road again outside the station the question is; should I risk more money on another Uber or just finally take public transport (an option that looking slightly more attractive with every second that passes.)

Experience has taught me that every Uber you order comes with risk.

Other negative experiences I’ve had include my Uber being STOLEN by a couple standing nearby who I now suspect were simply pretending to wait for an cab themselves so they could pounce. On the same day another driver I had booked before the stolen ride refused to properly tell me where when I called him which inevitably led to the ride being cancelled. You can bet I requested my money back for BOTH of those rides. Another time we were rather aggressively shouted out by our driver who insisted we get out the car and re-enter so we don’t ruin his new white leather interior. (Which no one told you to get, sir.)

These experiences do make me think more widely about some of the toxic relationships we have with certain brands. Despite bad experiences with them – whether it be with the customer service or product itself we keep going back and why?? I keep saying I will delete the Uber app, because realistically there are many attractive competitors that have arisen and established themselves – Free Now (formerly Kapten), Bolt and Ola for instance. But realistically, the reason why we do continue to engage with such brands is because we’re optimists at heart. With every order or purchase we hope for the best – it’s what we know we deserve – as paying consumers who are loyal and have rights. It’s just unfortunate these brands themselves don’t see us that way.