I like to buy things with money.

That probably sounds a little antiquated at this day and age.
In the good old days after money was invented but before credit and contracts were, if you wanted something, you went to somebody selling what you wanted, and you gave them some money and they gave you some stuff. A thing. Something tangible.
Then you went to work where you performed some service or provided use of a skill or something like that and you got paid money for your effort. You then took this money and went to the store and you bought more things.
So the cycle goes. Or went.

Nowadays, it’s harder to buy things with money. And I don’t mean cash versus credit and debit cards, I mean COD. Cash On Delivery. You pay money, you get something, that’s it. Remember that? You provide money and the other party in the exchange provides a service or goods.

There’s less and less of that nowadays, and more and more of the subscription service or contract, or leasing going on.
And it’s gotten to the point where it’s difficult to just plain buy something.

The most obvious common example is the ubiquitous cell phone.
They’ll give it to you for a dollar if you sign a contract promising them X amount of future dollars over the next N years. In the short run, you get a phone for almost nothing
out of pocket, and in the long run, the phone company makes a profit off of all the money you promised them, including a clause saying if you bail early, you basically have to pay for the phone.

Sure you can still buy a phone outright without a contract, but is far less common, and there are less good deals to be had this way because there’s so little turnover with this type of transaction, thus little competition, so no deals. You can only get a deal if you sign the contract.

Another one I mentioned recently is domain names. You can’t even buy a domain name. You can only rent it. They say you’re buying the domain name, but you’re only buying it for a year or two at a time, they take it back if you don’t pay the protection money.

Internet service and cell phone service are much the same way, you don’t pay for what you use, you pay a flat monthly fee for some limited-all-you-can-eat-up-to-a-certain-point service. Again, there are some pay as you go plans, but I find they’re getting less and less worthwhile as they keep raising the prices to make them comparable with or more expensive than the flat contract fee.

But all that is piddly in comparison to my next example. The one that really gets my goat is home heating oil boiler service contracts.

I simply can not get somebody to come to my house any time day or night to fix my boiler unless I have an oil delivery contract AND a boiler service contract.
There are some places that will sell me oil COD which is nice. But any place that offers service requires that you have an oil delivery contract with them.
Why? Because they lose money on the service contract.
Well here’s a dumb idea: don’t sell something that loses you money. It’s bad for business.
I know, you have to compete with everybody else who is racing to the bottom of the service pool.

It’s amazing to me that everybody’s gotten so caught up in this make a deal via contract to lock you in
so that it’s hard to switch to the competition, that it’s actually becoming hard not to do it that way.


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