The Fountain Pen, Guelph's On-Line News

Our Bundled Universe

Web posted on June 15, 2017

A Curmudgeon's View

By Les Enekes

You may not realize it but we now live in a completely bundled society. It is obvious that we have devolved to the point that we are no longer competent to make a choice about what to buy. Far wiser people now make that decision for us. It does sound like the plot of many books and movies where the average person has lost the ability to make their own choices. Perhaps we have entered the Twilight Zone. Is that Rod Serling I see up ahead?

No matter where we look we see product packages that they tell us are supposed to save us money but give us things we don't want or need. We have become befuddled by bundling.

Our television service providers have decided in collusion with the networks and the CRTC what packages of channels we are allowed to watch. We are given no choice in this matter. They won't let us watch American commercials. It certainly sounds like something North Korea would do. Those so called skinny basic plans the providers are trying to give us should be stomped on by the CRTC. They are still trying to give us what we don't want. Of course, they are the last people that would ever help us. They will never do anything that protects the average consumer from being gouged and screwed by the service providers.

When we go into a fast food restaurant, we find the same thing. If you just want a burger and a drink and no fries, the cost is always almost the same as with the fries. Some of us don't really care for fries. (fish and chips are the only exception) Sometimes it is easier order off the value menu where they don't bundle, at least for the moment. There almost always seems to be some sort of package they are forcing on us, that we don't want. We should be able to pick our three or four item bundles off the menu rather than being stuck with their choices. The same holds true for the pizza places where you have your choice of all sorts of fancy named pizzas.

In grocery stores more and more of our produce is pre-packaged for our inconvenience. Instead of being able to buy the amount of items we need, they are in large packages where they can hide the nearly spoiled items at the bottom. Some stores are worse that others.

There was a time when you could go into a car dealership and be able to order a basic car and then order the options you wanted. Now you have your choice of a bundle of features many of which we really don't want or need. When I bought my previous car, I wanted a sun roof. I was told that I had two bundle choices if I wanted the sun roof. (similar stories at other dealers) I really did not want either package and I ended up getting the base model because I could not get what I wanted. When I bought it, I did not realize it was a transformer. It stared out as an American brand, then it stared speaking German, and just before it expired, it was talking in Italian. I suppose the upside was that for a while I was able to drive two different Formula 1 brand cars, well sort of, if you really want to stretch things. I decided that it was time to switch loyalties to a manufacturer that was big enough not to be bought out. This time around I found a car with almost everything I wanted (long given up on sun roofs - they leak when you leave them open), and it was even built just down the road.

We are supposed to bundle all of our phones, internet, and television needs with one company. That becomes very difficult when their bundles are incompatible with my needs and loyalties.

It is interesting that the only thing being unbundled is flying and they are taking it to the extreme as I mentioned in my rant about the airline industry. Yet this is the one thing that should remain bundled.

There used to be a time when the customer was always right. That reality no longer exists. It is the marketing people who are always right. In their infinite wisdom they have figured out what we need and how we must have it packaged or bundled. We have become a complete nanny state that started with our governments making more and more of our decisions. It happened so slowly that we did not realize it was happening. Now everyone knows what is best for us, except us. It's almost as if there were a conspiracy afoot.

It's time to unbundle the world before it's too late.


Les Enekes can be reached directly by owl. For those not owl equipped, he can be reached at news@thefountainpen.com

The views of columnists in The Fountain Pen do not necessarily represent the views of the principals of the publication.


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