Back when I was growing up we kept the boxes on all electronics. Up in our attic there was a box for each PC, each TV, our stereo, and anything else of similar worth. You kept the box because these items were valuable and you might want to return them, and if you moved (in and out of college, or between apartments), the boxes might minimize damage to these important goods in transit.
Recently I bought a new printer, an Epson all-in-one Workforce 545. I bought this printer specifically because it had “iPrint” which allows for immediate printing with no drivers or other installation on all Apple devices, including iPads, iPhones, and my Mac. For your iPad or iPhone if you upgraded to IOS 6 you can see it immediately when you click on the icon. It works great. I have it directly connected to one of our Windows PC’s and it works great as a traditional printer, as well.
But what do we do with the box nowadays? I keep it around for a couple of days to make sure everything runs reasonably well, and then I throw it out. Why? Because that printer, which has capabilities that would have seemed like science fiction a few years ago in a home device (remotely print across all devices without drivers) cost me about $130. That printer is essentially disposable. This printer, which includes a scanner and actually relatively advanced networking functions, has plummeted in price from what it WOULD have cost to do the same functions (if it were even possible) a decade ago.
To see the opposite of efficiency, go out for dinner and drinks on a Friday or Saturday night in River North. Entrees, an appetizer salad, a couple of drinks each, and a dessert will definitely cost you north of $100 and likely closer to $200. Every time I go out on the weekend I essentially purchase one of those printers and throw it away anyways.
This difference between manufactured goods and services (or “crafty” items, like designer lighting or tile) has grown immense. I understand why it is expensive to buy a meal in River North – real estate is punishingly expensive, food is expensive, labor is expensive, you have to pay a raft of fees and taxes of all sorts (likely under and over the table) to run your business, union labor has to be used to build everything (unless you want a giant rat installed in front of your business, which I see a lot in River North). There is little or no efficiency inherent in any of the above items (except for food production), and few incentives to change the business model when you can just pass on these rising costs to people like me who go out on the weekend as long as they are willing to pay for it.
I still fall for the “mental trap” and sweat over paying a few dollars more for an electronic device buying from one location or another and whether or not to pay more for an upgrade or advanced features. Meanwhile I go out on the weekend and end up paying $200 for a meal for two and that is business as usual (in River North, at least). This is because I haven’t yet shed my upbringing to “keep the box”.
Cross posted at LITGM