Tom Ross: Planned obsolescence is a pet peeve of mine
November 17, 2012
Steamboat Springs — One of my pet peeves, ranking right up there with ear buds that conspire to tie themselves into knots in my pocket overnight, is planned obsolescence.
In this case, I'm talking about the magic device I carry with me everywhere that permits keyless entry into my locked SUV. The key fob is something I was taking completely for granted until recently, when it fell off my key chain. That's right, it still works, but now it's just another small item I have to carry in my pocket and risk misplacing.
It wasn't so long ago that I was driving an older model pickup that lacked not only a keyless entry fob but also push-button door locks from the driver's seat. It was a long reach across the bench seat of the truck to unlock the door for passengers, but somehow, I managed just fine.
My problem is that the little plastic ring that holds the fob on my key ring wore through. It would have been simple and cheap for the manufacturer to line the plastic with a little metal ring that would have made it virtually indestructible. But if the manufacturer had done that, it wouldn't have a chance to sell me a new one.
You might be thinking, "What's the big deal? You can still unlock the car, right?"
Yes, it's true; I haven't been locked out of my car. But I already have a problem with misplacing the myriad small items I carry around in my pockets as it is.
Now, the detached key fob in my pocket is in addition to my phone, my quiver of ballpoint pens, chewing gum, a dog-eared business card, guitar picks, occasionally a digital camera card reader and my sunscreen.
I've got three pairs of glasses, a reporter's notebook and I sometimes carry a lucky bottle cap or a small, polished agate. Oh yeah, I also have an old-fashioned billfold packed with essential items.
The first thing I'm sure to remove from my pocket and promptly misplace is that unsigned lottery ticket that almost was sure to be a big winner. That can make a guy a little crazy.
So, I'm sure you can understand that it was disconcerting to have my perfectly good keyless entry fob fall off my key chain last week.
The natural thing to do would have been to purchase a new one. I found out that a genuine replacement fob would cost me about $175, or I could acquire one at a local retailer for about $90. I also could track down an after-market replacement fob on the Internet for $75, or I could purchase a used one on Ebay for $55.
I'm sure the fobs are worth the price. It just doesn't seem like the simplest part in an otherwise miraculous device should be the one to fail.
So, I took the cheapskate route and exchanged car keys with my wife, who graciously proposed that she could keep my loose fob in her purse, where she never misplaces anything.
Have a fobulous Thanksgiving dinner, everyone, and travel safely.
To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com