Several Rules play roles in this cautionary tale. You've heard them all before, but they're important, so they'll get another go. The first is “Buy the best and you only weep once.” Or so we’d hoped. The Viking refrigerator was supposed to be sturdy, reliable and long-lived. It failed on all counts. But because it was ours, and we’d paid dearly for it, it was the cause of tears, not once, or twice, but three times. We were under the spell of the escalation of commitment- doubling (or tripling) down on a loser and blinded by sunk costs.
As they say, the third time’s the charm. After three expensive repairs for the same problem, we came to our senses and remembered another Rule- the one about holes. “When you’re in one, quit digging.” The hole we shared with the Viking was damp and chilly and we knew we’d completely fallen out of love with this fridge. We couldn’t make any more excuses for its bad behavior.
Enter the third Rule about the paradox of choice, which teaches that when presented with lots of choices, better becomes the enemy of good. With umpteen possibilities, we can’t stop looking because we imagine more searching is bound to turn up something better.
Having failed miserably on the weeping and the hole-mitigation advice, I was hoping to dominate the paradox. At the appliance department, there were literally dozens of possible refrigerators. As I waited my turn for a salesman, I watched customers angst over the dizzying array of options. Size, color, and freezer location were just the tip of the iceberg. Ice and water dispensed through the door? French door or single door? White or grey interior? An integrated computer screen on the door keeping track of what you have and what you need? Or the ultimate refrigerator nonsense- a Keurig coffee maker embedded in the door? This last option made about as much sense as a Palladian window accompanying the French door. Absolutely absurd!
Mind you, not a single one of my fellow shoppers could make a decision. They remained lookers, not buyers. When my turn came, I told the salesman I wanted stainless steel and no dispenser or device on the door. That narrowed the choices down to three. So far so good. They all looked pretty similar. “What’s the difference, other than branding?” Only one was counter depth as was the old Viking. A brief ‘tire kicking’ ensued. Sold!
The salesman asked how I’d so quickly figured out which one I wanted. The simple answer is that is it much easier to know what you do want when you’ve first figured out what you don’t want. Remember another Rule, "Less is more." He looked a bit bemused, but was pleased with his easy sale. Hopefully the paucity of bells and whistles will reward us with a commensurate paucity of ways this refrigerator can disappoint. At the very lease, it won’t render our coffee maker, computer and kitchen faucet obsolete!