Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Trust and modern life.

This is a post about online information for buying stuff.

Remember the 'good old days' of shops and businesses that sold stuff, making recommendations tp their customers?

I've just ordered a new set of tyres for my Mini: for those who care, Bridgestone Turanza T005s. I need something with decent grip, economy, comfort, not too much noise, good handling. Just like almost everyone does. 10 years ago I'd have rocked up at the local tyre place, asked what they recommended from the premium brands that wasn't too expensive and gone with that.

And been happy*.

Now I have to spend several hours online, reading roadtests, checking reviews, trying to guess who is telling the truth, who is still in honeymoon phase, who has an axe to grind and who is being paid by the manufacturer. To make matters more compliocated, aparently a tyre type is developed through the course of its lifespan, so older reviews may not even be meaningful.

While ignorance is not bliss, getting expert advice in an area about which one really knows little and has almost no chance of developing deep & meaningful knowledge is not foolish.

Holidays are the same. "We'd like to go to Greece, the mainland looks nice and this is what we can afford - what do you have?" Now I spend hours pawing through hotel features, location information (is it really by the beach or is the sea actually 200 vertical meters BELOW the accomodation?) reviews etc. Cars ditto. Cameras - well, that's a little more personal, but ditto. etc. etc.

The purpose of the internet is, apparently, for us to review things so that others can read our reviews and then make a different choice anyway.

And for a few key characters to make lots of money from us, but that's another story.

Is there a point to this post?

Not really, other than to observe that mankind will always spend just a little more than is in their budget, regardless of whether it's money, emotions, energy, time or anything else that's available to be traded away. And nobody wants to take responsibility or be sued.

*Generally this has been true with 2 notable exceptions.

1) I had a blow-out while driving through France, the spare I had was functional but of dubious legality and the 'good used' spare I picked in while in France was outrageously expensive and apparently made of teflon. For the journey home I actually found the bald spare to be safer than that replacement.

2) Toyo. Apparently a great brand just newly available in the UK, therefore very cost-effective according to the tyre supplier. While OK in the dry, at the first sign of rain they lost all adhesion, as I discovered by slithering into the back of another car at low speed, causing £600 worth of damage (mid 90s). The 'borderline' Michelins I'd replaced were MUCH better & safer, and within a few weeks I'd replaced the Toyos, even though we couldn't really afford it, because they were absolutely lethal - one brand I will never buy again if I can help it.

The new Bridgestones are good, more grip than the worn tyres, pleasantly supple on bumps, not too noisy. They roll a little less easily & fuel consumption is slightly up, but that's to be expected as a trade-off for grip.

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