Sunday, September 18, 2011

Oh, Internet

If you're a tech-savvy, intelligent person, it's a great time to be a shopper.

It excites me that I can walk into a store, browse through the offerings, and scan the barcode with my smartphone to pull up price-comparisons across physical and online outlets. It's the cutting edge of subversive thrills.

One category where the gulf between online and retail prices is at its most gaping is cables. This applies to any kind of cables, but Audio/Video cables seem to be subject to the most marketing nonsense and price hikes. Since HDMI cables are (arguably) the most convenient way of hooking up your high-definition equipment, they're subject to the most egregious price inflation.

Monster cables have long been a target of internet watchdogs for their often shady practices of comparing their HDMI cables to archaic composite cables, then using this evidence to charge customers $80, when the exact same thing is available online for less than a dollar apiece. Bear in mind that these are digital cables - any claims of double-insulation or gold-tips increasing the fidelity is utterly bogus.

It seems that some enterprising company asshole has seen their scam and decided to crank it up to 11.

Three and a half feet of cable for $1,095.99! That's 5768 times more expensive than the $0.19 I paid for my cables, which were twice as long! The blurb had better be impressive:

Oh boy. Well that's a load of impressive-looking piffle. Let's hope that the last line of defense keeping fools and their money united is vigilant. To the customer reviews!

Urk. All the reviews are 5 stars, and a full two thirds would recommend the product to a friend. At least we can read the text of the reviews as a case study of cognitive dissonance in action!

At least that's what you'd think. Read past the gushing headlines like 'Amazing!', 'Your Life Can Change Too!' and 'Not just a cable, an investment!', and you'll find a consistent subtle (and not so subtle) ironic tone in each of the reviews.

They take on the persona of materialistic luddites trying to regurgitate sales pitches:

Similar to a BMW (or if you remember from the golden age of automobiles the classic ‘Monza’), this will only increase in value as time goes by. So I would definitely recommend this cable. But with one caveat… only use it when important guests are over say of a caliber such as Donald Trump. Do not use it for run-of-the-mill every day guests. If you overuse it, the quality of the signal may eventually degrade and of course that would affect the resell value down the road.

They heavy handedly satire the kind of heavy handed marketing nonsense that is crammed down the consumer's throats:

I bought this HDMI cable around Christmas time. Even though I just had a small 20-inch vacuum tube television and VCR-laserdisc combo player, my favorites immediately were up-converted to High Definition. I've honestly never seen Mulan like that before. Now I don't have to imagine what it would have been like to face the Huns - I can experience it every Thursday night in the comfort of my own home.

They take the mickey out of the steepness of the pricetag:

After a few months I have finaly saved up to buy this cable... lets just say I am thrilled! Definately worth the buy, it is a very pretty cable. Now I am saving up for my TV.

These six reviewers have silenced that part of my brain fretting about the plight of misled buffoons, and have caused me to bookmark this page for the eventual angry 1-star review taking the others to task for their enthusiasm for a worthless product.

There's a lot more on the product page that I haven't posted, so check it out if you want to witness a well established subversive shopper behaviour.

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