Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Choices in a World of Plenty

The Mystery of Choices

While muddling through a hurricane of choices 
these last few days I pondered the nature of 
choices and how strange they are. 

The instigator of this mental process was the purchase of an iPad. Well, sort of. I have had one for a few years and decided to upgrade. The decision came down to just a few choices: black or white, how much memory, with or without cellular service. Simple decision for me: white, big memory, wi-fi only. Done.

It arrived two weeks ago and still sits in the box. I'm waiting until I get a cover or case for it to prevent scratches. My used equipment, blemish-free, is sold used for decent prices.

Getting a case should be a simple choice. I want a case that covers the back of the unit, not a fancy cover that acts like a tipsy stand. My hunting and buying is mostly done online on Amazon and eBay. I started there and found one case with more than 4000 positive reviews. Wow, that is one to read about. It must be more than great -- perhaps it does miracles too! The most recent reviews are for the case in question but the majority are for earlier versions which are different sizes and shapes. Can these really be all reviewed together?

Some cases were listed at selling prices under $10 and their reviews said they were the same or better than the $79 case from Apple. Other people said these cheap cases broke, came unglued, smelled bad,  aggravated the dog, or worse. Besides, will I feel good with something costing several hundred dollars living in a $6 case made in an overseas sweatshop? Oh, the iPad itself is made overseas in a not-so-sweaty shop.  So . . .

Off to Staples I go with a coupon, but they don't have any cases for the new iPad. Then I trek to Office Depot, nothing for that model either. This is after being assured on both websites that several cases are "in stores." Then to Best Buy. They have plenty according to their website and my eyes glaze over seeing their huge selection. People were grabbing them up like free candy! I scanned the boxes for a back-only cover, not hard plastic. Oh, if said cover is compatible with a front cover it will have one side mostly missing as a place for a hinge. So I want a back cover made to stand alone and be incompatible with a front cover. Oh, I found one!! The only one in this store.

After a few minutes of clenching the precious box, I read the small print and learn it is for an obsolete (wrong size) iPad. Then upon further scrutiny I realize this plethora of cases is 90% for old model iPads! Some people are going to be very unhappy!

Every night the past week has had a vigil of online searching for the case. Hours and hours of searching. I learn that there are: leather cases, PU leather cases in which case PU means pseudo, vegan leather which does not come from an animal, hard plastic, soft plastic, silicon, TPU plastic also called soft rubber, and gummy plastic, yuck! Sometimes the exact same images are used with descriptions referring to any of the above materials. How can that be? How can the same thing be both hard and soft, real leather and PU leather? How can these be sold for $2 or even $6??

I love red, I want a red case! But this iPad has a much thinner border around the working part of the screen and the edges. I'm not sure reading books with a red border around the pages would be eye-friendly. Some red cases have a large border on the front of the iPad covering its beautiful white surface. Nah!

I'm thinking I have to return the iPad. I have spent countless hours looking for a case and am no where. Wait! I'll buy that Apple case that everyone says is hugely overpriced. It comes with a front cover which I do not want. But I cannot justify paying such money for a dumb case. Maybe I have to return the iPad. Why is it impossible to make a choice? Now this is getting to be a fascinating study of the decision process. It is not that there are too many choices, it is that the listings online are misleading and make me feel uninformed. I'm worried about the prices being too low. Why are the reviews supposedly for one item really reviews for several very different items all mixed in?

I can't make a purchase. Another few days of scurrying around the exact same mental crumbs and poorly edited listings for iPad cases that continually refer to iPhones makes me a crippled consumer.

There are not too many choices. There are choices without all the data. Choices with incorrect info and missing item views (what are they hiding!) prices that barely cover shipping costs. It all does not seem logical or practical or wise for any seller. That's what is wrong.

I'm promoting some of my own creations on Pinterest and Twitter. I'm cautious about my listings being accurate and photos showing what needs to be seen. I've edited every listing to eliminate ambiguity if possible.

Here's one listing:
Images: closeup, full length, clasp shown. The text outlines the dimensions, materials, and more. I hope anyone who checks out this listing does not fall into the decision quicksand that gobbled up my purchase of an iPad case.