This past weekend I got into a forum discussion about purchases we regretted having made. Popular choices included the Apple Newton (I loved mine!), Sony MiniDisc (which was awesome!), and Microsoft Windows Vista (okay, I totally get that one). Stuff like that. Initially I started out with little things that I had purchased recently... like the Pebble Smart Watch. But once the ball got rolling, I came up with all kinds of things I regretted spending my hard-earned cash on. So did everybody else. Thus it was decided we would each make a list of the "Top Five" worst offenders. And this morning I did just that. And since I don't have anything better to blog about, I'm going to post it right here...
#5 - PowerComputing PowerCenter Pro
Looking to save money on my next Macintosh purchase, I bypassed Apple's offerings for one of the new "Mac Clones" from Power Computing. I was suckered in by the fact that they had a faster machine with more powerful hardware for less money. Sold! Except... it wasn't up to Apple quality standards. At least not the one I got. Mine had issues with the video, which required numerous calls and two failed attempts at replacing the video card. Eventually, I ended up having to ship the machine back to Power. When I got it back, it was not the same machine (different serial number) and had less onboard RAM than the original machine I purchased. This required another half-dozen calls to get sorted. Eventually I got a working machine and was happy enough with it... but the amount of time it took to get there made me regret the purchase quite a lot.
#4 - Panasonic ANYTHING (but mostly their Recording DVD Player)
I have never had good luck with any Panasonic product. Televisions? Crap. Phones? Crap. VCRs? Crap. Everything I've ever purchased has been total crap. But then Kevin Smith was in an advertisement for the new Panasonic RECORDING DVD player! And how awesome would it be to record your own DVDs? Sweet! So I ignored all past experience and placed my order. Only to find that it would not record a DVD... no matter what I did. And every time I called Panasonic, it was my fault. I didn't buy Panasonic brand recordable DVDs. So I bought Panasonic brand recordable DVDs and it still didn't work. I didn't have the right quality cable. So I bought a new cable. I was overheating the unit by not giving it enough air space. So I moved it to its own table. The list went on and on and on. Finally, they agreed that there was something probably wrong with it... BUT I WAS EXPECTED TO PAY TO SHIP IT TO THEM FOR REPAIR! That's right, PANASONIC sells a DOA DVD player, but I have to pay to get it serviced! So I paid the shipping. Finally, a month later, I got it back and nothing had changed. Then when I called back, Panasonic refused to believe me... literally called me a liar... and said that the unit worked perfectly when it left their shop so I must have broke it. So I fucking smashed the pricey piece of shit non-recording DVD Player/Recorder and threw it in the garbage. Then vowed to never buy another Panasonic piece of shit product ever again. And I haven't. I fucking HATE the company. That should be enough agony but, unfortunately, there's one company I loathe even more. Hello, Hewlett-Packard...
#3 - Hewlett-Packard Photosmart B9180 Printer
Even though the Macintosh drivers were crap, I really liked this printer. Partly because the print quality was so nice... but mostly because HP had a "satin-matte" paper which you could peel from the backing and glue to different surfaces. And it was glorious. The pigment inks didn't crack when you folded it... the paper held color well... and it looked like a million bucks. But then the printer started failing within three months of having bought it. The printhead would randomly start scraping against the page, ruining your print. The head would randomly get "stuck" and refuse to finish a job, ruining your print. The printer would randomly decide to skip a color, ruining your print. As time went on, I was getting more ruined prints than good prints, which was a huge expense. That special paper and pigment ink cost a fortune. But that's not even the worst part. HP support was atrocious. They never had answers and said it must be my computer because the many problems were not reproducible. They promised to send me replacement ink and paper, but it never came. They promised to get back to me with answers, but they never did. At one point I was on the phone with HP and the customer service rep actually laughed at me. Eventually I ended up buying a second B9180 because I had a supply of paper and ink that I couldn't afford to throw out. Thinking I just had a lemon, I was optimistic the replacement I bought would be better. But it wasn't. This time it was the print head cartridges that kept failing AND the prints would be scraped up at random. To add insult to injury, they discontinued the special paper that convinced me to buy the stupid thing in the first place (twice!). Eventually the paper came back, but it wasn't the same, and refused to release from the backing. Now completely frustrated and hating HP with the fury of a thousand suns, I bought an Epson. I have never bought another HP product since.
#2 - 1999 Saturn SC2
When my old car was totaled while saving my life (it was between my office and a runaway heavy-duty work truck from the railroad), I didn't have time to shop for a new one. Then I saw a television commercial that explained how you could order a new Saturn online, so I fired up my laptop... picked the car I wanted... added way too many expensive features... and, just like that, my new car was ordered. Sight unseen. No test-drive taken. While on a trip to New York I got a call telling me that my car was ready to pick up, so on a layover in Seattle a salesman came and got me. Almost immediately I hated the car. The turning radius was huge. The visors were badly designed. The window controls were stupid. The dome light seemed to work at random. It was not much fun to drive. It wasn't even that comfortable. Ultimately, it was a terrible purchase and I fully intended on taking Saturn up on their 30-Day Return Policy. Except I was traveling the entire duration and never made it back to the dealership. So I've been stuck with the pile of crap for fourteen years. And things continue to go wrong. Despite ONLY having it serviced at Saturn, the "Check Engine" light has been coming on (even when reset) since 2009. The front license plate holder has fallen off, and it's a bitch to get back on. It's burning oil and doesn't even have 100,000 miles on it. And that damn turning radius... you never get used to having to make three and four point turns all the time. I hate the car. I really, really do. But since Saturn went under and my SC2 is pretty much worthless, I'm going to drive it until it explodes. Or I light it on fire and push it off a cliff.
#1 - Radius VideoVision Studio
Back in the good ol' days when I was doing video editing, I'd have to rent out a pricey studio whenever I got work. The problem being that video editing suites were incredibly expensive, the nearest shop was three hours away, and I never had the money to rent studio time to truly learn the system. Add it all together, and I often-times lost money on projects. The good news is that this lead me to create my own scores for videos so I could save cash by not hiring a "real" musician. Ultimately I ended up making a lot more money on the music than the video stuff, so it ended up being a blessing in disguise. But then VideoVision Studio came out and promised pro video editing on your Mac at home for the fraction of the price of renting a studio! Never mind that I had to spend thousands of dollars on tape decks, mixing boards, and VideoVision itself... I could have my own video editing studio and get rich! Except VideoVision never worked like it was supposed to. Even after I spent thousands more dollars on a faster Mac to run it better. Audio dropped or was out of sync. Video capture was glitchy. Output was marred by noise. It was a disaster. I never completed a single project on it, and ended up having to work two jobs to pay for all the useless crap I bought. All in all, this was the most expensive mistake I've ever made... even after I managed to sell some of the equipment I bought. For that reason alone it takes the top spot in my Most Regretted Purchases List. But somehow my regret goes much deeper than money. A career I was really interested in was completely destroyed, as I had to give up my dream to pay for its failure.
And there you have it... my most regretted purchases of all time.
Though, now that I think about it, I should have gone for a "Top Ten" because there's certainly been a lot of other purchases I've regretted. I'M LOOKING AT YOU, VANILLA MILKSHAKE POP-TARTS!