We live in a five-star world. I am definitely not saying everything in the world is amazing. (Though who wants to go back in live in 1904? Nobody, that’s who.) What I am saying is that many of us engage this world as if the things we purchase and partake in always need to be five-star experiences.
Years ago when one had a need for a tool, article of clothing, or whatever, one visited a store, looked at the selection of things available, and picked a thing. Over time one would learn about trusted brands and tend to buy them more frequently. Or one would learn about a good product by the social experience of talking to friends or family. In theory this process is costly in terms of time. Travel to the store, dig around the shelves, travel to another store to compare products, purchase, and travel home. It is much more streamlined to open a web browser, purchase an item, and receive it in a few days.
In practice I can’t help but believe I spend significantly more time in the overall purchase process in today’s world than I would have in the world of thirty years ago. I always want the item that provides the best ratio of performance to price. I research what the best things are in the category. Then I pull back and get reasonable because the best things are often expensive. Maybe there is a very good thing that costs considerably less? While I’m a proponent of buy once cry once, I also don’t want to waste my money. What is the cry to buy ratio on this item?
I want the five-star experience and I often spend too much time trying to get it.
When I look at item reviews I get snobby. If this item is not getting a perfect rating, there must be something wrong with it. It must be getting shoddy, surviving on its reputation alone. I need to spend more time scouring the internet for reviews from actual people who have used the thing for an actual extended amount of time.
This comes into play when I’m writing reviews as well. Recently we rented a vacation home. It was a lovely home. It was nearly brand new, clean, and inviting, but it wasn’t perfect.
The listing said the property had wi-fi. It did technically have wi-fi, but upon arrival we learned that you’re not actually supposed to use the wi-fi. They had very slow satellite internet and with a capped plan. Thank goodness I didn’t need need the wi-fi.
At one-thirty in the morning the toilet next to our bedroom started making loud gurgling noises. We could also hear something in or around the house making noise at the same time. This repeated every few minutes for forty-five minutes. Jesse and I were awake for most of the night making sure the toiled wasn’t overflowing and reading about these noises. All our reading pointed to things we probably did to cause a septic system problem, even though we don’t remember doing any of the things that we read may have caused a septic system problem. In the morning Jesse was finally able to text the owners, who replied with, “Yeah, that’s a something-something septic cycle that happens every two weeks.”
It was a lovely home that I wouldn’t hesitate to visit again. Was our visit five-stars, though? I thought it was a very good four stars. When I was prompted to review the property did I give it a five-star rating? Yes, because I know people like me would look down upon a four-star rating.
In the future I’m going to try to be less concerned about finding the best possible thing. I will still do my research, but it seems prudent to intentionally limit the time I spend digging into the backstory of the item and its category. Especially when considering inexpensive things like a small tool or household item. It’s not really a five-star world after all.