The Final Straw
Ken Rigsby counts the cost of tech accessories
Retailing is part science, part art. Take supermarkets, for example. Typically, the first thing you see as you walk through the door is fresh produce. That’s no accident: the bright, clean appearance and vibrant colours of the stacked fruit and vegetables are intended to cheer you up — and the happier you are, the more you’ll spend. You might also scent a few enticing wafts from the bakery section.
But supermarkets don’t make big bucks on either of these goods. To make fat profits, they need to convince you that the crisp lettuce and warm loaf would taste even better sandwiched with a wedge of fine, matured cheese. Fine, matured cheese that, naturally, is rather pricey.
Oddly enough, the high-tech industry of computing is not so very different to Tesco and the like. Yes, computers and smart devices are a lot more expensive than your average sliced granary loaf or dewy iceberg lettuce but, generally, manufacturers don’t make vast mark-ups on hardware. In fact, the serious profit margins are typically made on the extras: the cases, cables and other kit that they tell us are essential for protecting or accessorising our gear. Well, I’ve had it up to here with paying over the odds for such things. It started a couple of weeks ago in Poundland, where I spotted a mouse for… a pound, obviously! “It can’t be any good,” I told myself, as curiosity saw me handing over a golden nugget. But do you know what? It’s just fine. A bit plasticky, yes – but it works a treat. I suspect it won’t last more than a year or two but so what? It cost me a quid! In fact, I realised a bit later that my £1 mouse was more or less identical in design and function to the Microsoft Basic Optical Mouse that I bought last year – for £15 ( www. snipca.com/23684). Microsoft’s mouse is basic alright: basically overpriced. But it occupies only the bottom spot in my top-five list of expensive accessories. I’d be more annoyed if I’d paid £30 for the official Amazon Kindle Case ( www.snipca.com/23685), as in fact I did last Christmas. I did so because Mrs Rigsby wanted one for her Kindle Paperwhite, which she’d bought a few weeks earlier at a discounted price of around £75. So, she spends £75 on a slimline marvel that’s packed with fancy silicon chips and microelectronics, and I cough up not far off half the purchase price again for a bit of bent leather. So consider that number four on my list.
At number three is something I would never buy, because its price makes my eyes pop out. Which is kind of ironic, because at £69 Google’s Daydream View is meant to have precisely that effect — because it’s a virtual-reality (VR) headset for certain Android smartphones ( www. snipca.com/23686). But really, it’s little more than a furry blindfold with a bit of elastic and some electronics thrown in.
When this particular rant started brewing, I was certain that my number two would be number one - and that’s because at £29 for a 2m Lightning cable Apple really is taking the pieces of eight ( www.snipca.com/23687). Do you know how much Poundland charges for a 2m Lightning cable, incidentally? Clue: it’s not £29. I bought one. It works. It might break after six months but if so, it’d be 15 years before I’m out of pocket buying replacements at this price (in which time Apple will have launched 10 more charging-connector designs anyway).
Now, the drum roll. At number one is… Poundland. When I visited, the bargain retailer wanted £1 – obviously! – for a silicon case for the ipad Mini. The catch? It was available only in purple. But I wanted blue. If Apple says a near-identical blue silicon case should cost £59 – as indeed it does ( www.snipca.com/23688) – then who am I to argue?
My £1 mouse was more or less identical to Microsoft’s mouse that cost me £15!
Have you bought any tech from Poundland? Let us know at email@example.com