I've wasted pretty much all of Saturday morning taking part in a senseless 'debate' (ie heated argument) with people on an online forum. Will I never learn?!
The 'debate' was about an American company's pricing policy. The company are continually promoting 'discounted' prices that have a limited time on them, with such gems as 'special price - ends tonight'. The trouble is that those 'special' prices almost invariably change to a new, even lower price just days later, which tends to annoy newbies unfamiliar with the way the company works its strong-arm sales tactics who've purchased the items thinking they've got a bargain, only to find it bettered days later.
Understandably, people get annoyed that before they've even taken delivery of their goods the 'special' price has turned out to be not so special as if they'd waited a day or two and ignored the so-called 'special' deadline that was advertised. This happens so often that the controversial subject of 'unfair business practices' or 'rip offs' tends to crop up fairly frequently on the company's forums. What's odd though is that this particular company has a small number of loyal, but extremely vocal, fan boys who moan endlessly about how often the subject comes up. This might be acceptable if that small minority didn't continually fan the flames themselves, by mercilessly bullying anyone stupid enough to show even a hint of disapproval about the company's practices. What usually happens is the poor naive newbie pointing out the obvious unfairness of the company's sales approach gets such verbal abuse that he invariably beats a hasty retreat, usually never to be seen again.
Today's 'debate' got more heated than normal because it centred around the fact that a week ago the company boasted a launch price that was "never" (their word) to be repeated, only to, as usual, then advertise a better deal just a few days later. Understandably, this upset a few folk who'd purchased before the "never to be repeated" better deal came into effect, with the salt in the wound being that they were still waiting for delivery of the items advertised under the older deal. I foolishly leapt into the debate when I felt the usual forum's fanboy minority were yet again bullying someone who had a legitimate complaint.
The counter-arguments put forward can best be summarised as 'The company products are so good nobody cares about the pricing. I'd sell my house, wife and kids to buy these products even if the day after I'd bought them I found they were being given away free to any newcomers. So why is anybody else complaining?'. OK, I exaggerate a little for effect, but you get the general drift.
The folks who've wasted so much of my time this morning don't seem to appreciate that the argument is about business ethics and 'truth in advertising' and not about the value for money of certain products in certain price ranges. Suggestions that they look up the word 'never' in a dictionary and then consult the guidelines of The Advertising Standards Authority to see why something's not just unfair but (at least in the UK) just plain wrong, are invariably met with intelligent, reasoned responses like 'You're always complaining. Why don't you leave?'. Fortunately I've had the good sense to exit the 'discussion' before the inevitable word 'whinger' raised its ugly head, which at least means my Saturday afternoon won't be a complete write-off too.
Generally, criticisms that I'm a 'frequent complainer' or a 'whinger' are just water off a duck's back. Especially when those making the calls (Microsoft evangelists on salaries take note!) have vested interests, or who demonstrate time and time again all they're interested in is point scoring rather than a fair and objective view. And there's a reason why this blog is called 'Irascible Ian' after all!
But the wasted time and energy in dealing with the negativity that radiates from idiots is getting to me so much today that I've decided it's time to take some good advice: 'If you've not got anything nice to say about somebody don't say anything at all'.
Well at least for the next few weeks anyway! Old habits die hard ;-)
Which is why there's no review of The Incredible Hulk in this blog entry, which I was lucky enough to see a preview of on Monday (lucky in the sense I didn't have to pay money for it). And why there isn't a lengthy discourse on how great the new Narnia film Prince Caspian is. Or even The Happening.
Heh! Look at the time I've reclaimed by not having to write about those things under this 'nice things only' policy!
The danger of course is that this blog might just disappear completely if all the negative stuff gets taken out.
Fortunately there's last week's Doctor Who, which was so well written and filmed, that I feel I can actually mention it here on this blog with a sense of enthusiasm and respect. It was the second of a two-parter by Stephen Moffat, whose episodes over the last four years have easily been the stand-out ones of the series.
Apparently the next few episodes - including tonight's - are written by Russel T Davies. I won't be watching. I'll be going to The Magic Circle instead. That way there's a chance I'll have something to write under the new policy on this blog tomorrow!