Monday, February 17, 2014

1293 What's a Lifetime?

Do you check the spam folder in your email?  I do. Mostly, just the titles and then I dump the stuff.

But one sure got my attention the other day.  The subject line said “Your free lifetime membership is about to expire.”

Let me say that again:  Your free lifetime membership is about to expire.

Do they know something that I don’t know?

They don’t give an actual date.  So maybe this is just one of those “the world will end at the expiration of the Mayan Calendar” things.  Or a prediction from a radio or television evangelist.

But I have to tell you, it was scary.

First because I don’t remember ever signing up for a free lifetime membership in anything, nor do I have any record of having done so.

But more to the point… is this a death threat?  If so, it doesn’t much matter.  People in my line of work get those all the time.  Usually, they’re written in crayon or extra-wide magic marker.  And on napkins.  And with no return address on the envelope.

But it sure does give one pause.

So if you don’t hear from me for a few days… in lieu of flowers, send a contribution to your favorite can shaker in front of the big box store.

Which brings us to another question about the word “lifetime.”  Which lifetime are they talking about when they offer a lifetime guarantee… not that anyone does much of that these days?

One place that does is Lands’ End, which Sears hasn’t quite wrecked yet but not for a lack of trying.

Their guarantee is two words, “Guaranteed. Period.”  So does that mean if you wear a shirt until the collar frays or a pair of pants until the seat shines like that moonlit mackerel they’ll take it back and send you a replacement?

Apparently yes.  So buying the shirt or pants is more like a subscription to a shirt or pants.  

Do people do that?  Yes.  Not many.  But some.  Would you? Probably not.

This started as a gimmick back in the company’s early and independent days.  For the rest of buyable stuff, do  they mean YOUR lifetime, or the lifetime of the product?

If the product, what is its life expectancy?

I have a 100-year old guitar whose maker offered a lifetime guarantee.  Did it expire at the end of his life which was something like 40 years ago?  Does it expire at the same time as my lifetime membership? If the thing is a century old and still works fine, what is ITS lifetime? And where do I go for a repair or replacement if the thing collapses?

I’m confused.


-We’re still reeling over the Michael Dunn verdict and will deal with it in this space Wednesday.


--The independent investigator’s report on bullying among the Miami Dolphins is out and comes squarely down on the side of a black player, Jonathan Martin, and against white teammate Richie Incognito and two other players.  Martin quit the team during the incidents. The Dolphins thus far have announced no sanctions against the three accused but issued a statement saying it wants to lead the league in efforts to abolish this stuff.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2014

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