Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Jul 28 2005

I’d heard a lot of good things about Shure’s E4C i…

I’d heard a lot of good things about Shure’s E4C in-ear headphones, so I went to a store on the third floor of a a building on Chongqing South Road to check them out. The place was quiet, with good track lighting and an air of fake exclusivity. The clerk responded to my query and brought a pair out. They looked big, bigger and heavier than my current Sony earphones. I reached for my iPod, saying, “Can I try them out?”

“No,” the clerk said.

“No?” I was confused. “Why not?”

“Store policy,” the clerk said.

“So I can just look at them?”

“That’s right.”

“What if I buy them, listen to them and don’t like what I hear? Can I return them?” I asked.

“No. No returns.”

I looked around, expecting a camera crew to hop out and tell me I was on a variety show with 37 hosts in fake afros and huge microphones where they pull stunts on unsuspecting people, but no cameras were forthcoming.

“Well…I don’t know quite how to put this,” I said. “What is the point, exactly, of selling earphones that you can’t listen to or return?”

“Maybe that’s the way it works in the US, but we can’t do that in Taiwan.”

“Why not?”

“Because it’s Taiwan.”

“That’s brilliant!” I laughed. “Why didn’t I think of that?”

One of the other customers was listening to our exchange, and offered some advice. “Why don’t you let him use some spare ear covers, then you wouldn’t technically be trying out the headphones, right?” The clerk nodded.

“Ok,” he said, and brought out some ear covers. “That’ll be NT$150.”

“NT$150?” I said.


“For ear covers that I can only use on these earphones, which I otherwise cannot try out?”


All hope of the pop-out camera crew had vanished by this point. These people genuinely believed what they were saying. No amount of sarcasm would arouse even the vaguest possibility in their minds that they weren’t alienating scores of willing customers. Perhaps that was what they wanted; exclusivity, even if it drove them out of business. Well, good luck, I thought on my way out.

posted by Poagao at 3:48 pm  

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