Jun 4, 2012

Pick A Grudge

A while back, I wrote about my bias/grudge/allergy to a couple of motorcycle brands (Call Me "Doubting Thomas"). A while back, in a conversation with a group of college students about customer service, consumer awareness, and who has leverage and when, I was reminded of that bias/grudge/allergy. During that conversation, I realized that I have a few more things to say about this issue. More to the point, I discovered that a lot of people have taken strong biases toward brands and people and it appears that more intelligent people seem to hang on to these positions a lot longer than do . . . let's say "less complicated people."

So, for the fun of it, I decided to list a few of my never-do-that-again biases (in no particular order) and see if readers are interested in joining in:
  1. Hyosung -- Not only was the Hyosung GV650-Avitar I reviewed in 2008 a near-perfect pile of crap, but my reward for holding back my real opinion of that poorly assembled bucket of parts was a hysterical temper tantrum from the company's marketing asshole. I probably won't live long enough to forget that experience. I do react poorly to being burned.
  2. Sony -- Way back in the 80's, I owned, my employer owned, and several studios I worked for owned Sony CD players and Sony's inability to build a slide-out drawer that didn't jam up or fall off soured me on all-things-Sony for at least 30 years. Five years ago, I bought a Sony camera on recommendation from a friend. It lasted less than a month before the Mini-DV tape door motor began to fail. I thought the memory stick option would be a backup, but that route only recorded low-res video and is useless. This product models everything I expect from Sony. The company is very good at electronics and absolutely miserable with mechanical devices. This is a really old bias/grudge and I was more than a little surprised to realize that I've hung on to this one so long.The camera experience will extend that bias to the end of my life.
  3. General Motors -- My father was a dedicated GM customer his whole life. From the 70's on, I don't think he had a single vehicle that wouldn't have been classified as a "lemon," and he traded for (and got screwed on) a new one every couple of years. Normally, my father was a conservative person, but mechanically he was a radical liberal. I drove a series of company trucks, all GM, for a decade and they were no better than my father's collection of junk. I was almost ready to change my opinion based on a California friend's experience with a leased EV1, when GM's corporate brain-tumor decided to trash the whole project. I haven't taken GM seriously since. 
  4. McDonalds -- I do not like bullies. I'm not a big fast food fan, but I am not even close to being a food purist. I have not bought or eaten anything from McDonalds since 1997. The company will never see  a dollar of my money again.
  5. Presonus -- Disappointing, really. This company ought to be my kind of people. They make cheap, reasonably well-engineered products that pretty much do what they claim to do. Their engineers are a collection of high-tech wizards who are also true believers. However, Presonus is trying to become the next Peavey and that is a whole 'nother world of customer-hostility. I have been disappointed, repeatedly by their products and their customer service is vicious. Been there, done that, won't go back.
  6. Harley Davidson -- I suffered an Italian Harley-labeled 250 in the 60's, but that didn't make a mark on me. Years of experience with HD's customers did that job. There is something about a Harley that appears to lower the IQ of anyone who owns one. If you think I need more evidence to make an opinion, you might be permanently damaged. Look around you and see how many wizards you find riding Harleys. I've ridden at least a dozen HD products (not counting Buells) and there is nothing there for me. I may be old, but I'm not that old.  I don't play golf, either.
  7. Polaris/Victory Motorcycles -- I hate having this grudge, but it might be one of my most rationally based biases. Several years ago, I bought a Pure Polaris Electric Scooter directly from the company, through one of Polaris' marketing executives. As you can see from the review, I liked this product a lot. As you can tell from the postscript, Polaris' attempt to disavow any knowledge of the Electric Scooter has put them into the grudge category and I've avoided their products since. In fact, when I was asked to do a review of the Polaris Victory Vision, I blew it off until other victims ended up doing the review. There was simply no chance that I would be able to ride one of Victory's hippobikes without being constantly reminded of the beating I'd taken from the company over my little electric scooter. Polaris/Victory is sort of a Minnesota/Wisconsin company and I'd like to like them. But I don't. Screw me once, shame on you. Screw me twice, shame on me. 
  8. British Engineering -- This might be my oldest and least rational grudge. I owned an MGA in the 60's and there was nothing competent about that vehicle. It, also, drove me bankrupt the first and only time. Since, I have helped friends overhaul MGs, Triumphs (cars and motorcycles), BSAs, Nortons, and Jags and I have not seen any evidence that it is time for me to change my opinion. In the 1970's, the company I worked for bought a half-million-dollar "high tech, heavy duty gas welding" rig that was controlled by British electronics and was almost by itself the reason the company soon laid off 1200 employees. Everything from Vox to Marshall guitar amps and from Trident to SSL consoles has taught me that the Brits are willing to do anything to stuff electronics into a box and sell it for inflated prices. Finally, I rode some of the way to Alaska with a friend on a Tiger and his problems were familiar sutff. As a side note, I was convinced that Top Gear was a comedy show, until a couple of my students set me straight. A British television show that criticizes automotive engineering? WTF? (Sorry, Paul.) I have not ridden a new Triumph, though. Guess why?
  9. FRAM Filters -- For years, I heard other people complain about FRAM's oil filters but I kept using them until one fell apart and nearly killed my V-Strom a couple of years ago. 
  10. Non-Stick Cookware -- I've had it with this stuff. Talk about a product that breaks your heart. From the cheapest crap to a $90 omelet pan, the non-stick part starts sticking after about 10 uses. It's enough to drive me back to cooking with lard.


RichardM said...

I have no experience with either Hyosung or Presonus but all of the others mirror my own experience. After working on several British vehicles back in the 60s and 70s convinced me to never own one. I'm told that things are much better now but I'm not convinced.

Thanks for the enjoyable post. Something to brighten up a Monday morning.

T.W. Day said...

I keep looking for the source of this, probably "Quality is Free" or some 1980's reference like that, but a restaurant rule is something like "It takes $5 ins advertising to attract a new customer, 5 seconds of poor service to loose him, and $5,000 and 5 years to get him to try you again." For me, that's optimistic.

John Kettlewell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
T.W. Day said...

Come on, John. Man up to your grudges. The worst that can happen is the thought police come and bulk erase our memories. As far as I've seen, nothing and nobody much notices pissing me off.