How can you shop smarter these days?
Now the brand names mean nothing. Sony does not guarantee quality. Or consider cars: Even Toyota messed up recently, and who would have thought that KIA could offer decent reliable cars these days...yet they do! But how long will it last? Till they get customers and suddenly lower the quality of their product (and I seen it with chocolates, hard drives, everything). The parts for cars, computers, etc, are made all over the place, so that's another reason why it's hard to know if you're getting a good deal.
Also many times it's impossible to find the exact same product being offered in different stores, so price comparison is often pointless. Perhaps this is partly a good thing because there is so much more variety these days compared to the olden days. But at the same time, it means I can't compare the price or service or warranties for a particular stereo system by going to ten different shops. Today I was looking at a thread on RFD to find an external hard drive and somebody saying Seagate is not reliable based on some blog that compared the data on them but then somebody else saying no that's data on the particular model and the failure rates could be totally different for this one. Right, and so that means neither the brand nor actual data can serve as guidance for purchase. How are we to decide?
The other day in the dollar store I found a can of fruits for a good price and said so out-loud, but a person passing by told me I should be careful, given that some companies have special deals with particular store chains, so that they might make products uniquely for them and as a result, the quality will vary depending on the store. So although it might say DOLE on it, this is not necessarily the same DOLE you buy elsewhere. Whether that's true or not, it is yet another reason why I can not make informed decisions with confidence.
And speaking of food, I have some kind of food allergy that I can not quite figure out, but it also means I need to be careful about what I eat. So when I go to the cereal aisle, I take a pen and paper, because I need to write things down, the list of dozens of various ingredients and chemicals, so I can come home and figure out what the heck they are. Even seemingly simple and understandable labels are apparently not to be trusted. So things like "natural" or "healthy" or "pure" or "organic" or whatever may not mean what you think they mean. I think once I read a label that said something funny, like "made from 100% natural fruits." I thought, But is there any other kind? Are there unnatural fruits? And if it's made from natural fruits, it does not mean the juice itself has no artificial things added to it.
I find all this exhausting. Shopping should not be this hard! It should not required so much analysis and reading and critical thinking. The hard part should be making the money. Or going to the store, waiting in line, and carrying out the item. Or going to the stores and comparing prices. But not the actual decision to figure out what the heck it is you're buying. That should be obvious. And I don't even want to get into warranties and exchange policies and confusing manuals. You need a lawyer for those. I often don't buy warranties because they never cover the thing that needs fixing. And I can't go through the whole thing with the company, letters sent back and forth, explanations, and eventually me saying, You guys have got to make that more clear for the consumers and not bury it on page X in fine print!