If it ain’t broke…

I bought a new toothbrush this weekend. If it had been a plastic molded toothbrush, the kind you get when you visit the dentist, there would be nothing to write about. But it wasn’t. It was a replacement for our Sonicare electric toothbrush, which Andrew argued didn’t need replacing. I disagreed.

The button you press to operate the toothbrush is covered with a rubber pad. Half of that pad had separated from the casing and although you could still press the button, it looked shabby and I was mildly concerned about being electrocuted. I understand that it is environmentally irresponsible to discard things that still work (Andrew’s primary argument), but it was old and falling apart. When my sister-in-law said she was headed to Costco, I decided to hitch a ride to check out the price of a new toothbrush.

Philips manufactures Sonicare. Before hitting Costco I thought it would be prudent to check out their web site to see what was available. Not surprisingly, Philips only advertises the latest and greatest models; there was no evidence that earlier ones were still being made. I cross-checked the price of a new model on Amazon so I’d be able to judge whether or not Costco was a better deal. I was armed with all I needed to know. Then I talked to Andrew.

He had been online researching the entire electric toothbrush market in his typical, thorough, careful, thoughtful, ounce-of-prevention, time-consuming, exhausting, infuriating, I-want-to-run-screaming-from-the-room kind of way. I didn’t have the patience to let him come to a conclusion. My bad.

It turned out that the only new Sonicare model that Costco had was one that was clearly overkill for our purposes (which, remember, was to – BRUSH OUR TEETH). They did, however, have a two-pack of an older model, the one, coincidentally, my daughter had. As luck would have it, she’d been complaining that hers was old and “icky” so I knew that she (who has less of a landfill fixation than her father) would appreciate a new one. I bought the bundle.

I opened the package at home. It came with two of everything; two recharging bases, two handles with batteries (that I will need a hazmat team to dispose of one day), and two molded plastic stands to hold the heads that are not in use, all encased in a big plastic box inside a big cardboard carton. Faced with all the new plastic for parts that didn’t need replacing, I was horrified. All of a sudden the ripped rubber over the power button didn’t seem like such a big deal.

As a scab-picking exercise, I revisited Amazon. This time, I waded through twenty-four pages of listings for Sonicare. Almost every piece of the system is available for purchase individually, except for our original handle. That can only be bought as part of a bundle for $175, which is way more than I paid for a pair from Costco. Clearly some third-party vendor is hoarding the earlier model in order to prey on people like me who can’t deal with change. If I’d taken the time to research more carefully, would have been sucked in? We’ll never know.

All I wanted was a new toothbrush. Buying one should have been as easy as, well, brushing my teeth. Instead I spent money to replace something that probably didn’t need replacing. I’ve been with Andrew over twenty years. I should know by now that he’s always right, if he could just get there a little faster…

So, before I add more stuff that will never decompose to a landfill, can I interest you in a slightly used, perfectly functional, electric toothbrush?

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6 responses to “If it ain’t broke…

  1. Pingback: Judy Mintz: If it ain’t broke… « NESCBWI Kidlit Reblogger

  2. Instead of “Measure twice and cut once”, my motto seems to have become “Measure three times, then decide not to cut at all, because you never know, cutting could lead to an unexpected outcome, and then you might have regrets and wish you could go back in time and stop yourself from cutting, but you won’t be able to since time travel is impossible, or so they say, whoever ‘they’ are.”

  3. I think my comments won’t be welcome, but… I like the newer model. Lighter and more elegant. Also… Sonicare has a great warranty. Will exchange broken ones for any reason (and only the part you need). And Andrew… I love your description of your process. I am like you but you are more so which I find very relaxing. I myself just spent 24 hours sorting through over 300 venues at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival looking for the right match and weighing all the factors. Got the list down to about 15 finally after endless searches, map exploration, and trying to correlate tons of factors that were not evenly distributed. Ended up going with the first venue I called–because the venue manager was nice to me and didn’t mind me phoning him at 6:30 a.m. (Doh!) He said it was okay because he “was up and about and feeding his cat.”

    • They’ll replace any part, huh? Sigh. I suspect if I still had a “real” job this situation wouldn’t have pained me as much. Maybe you could bring the old one to Scotland and give it to a sheep with yellow teeth… and opposable thumbs.

  4. I had gotten a free one from Gilette when I let them do experiments on my teeth a few years ago. (Really, not as bad as it sounds. They brushed my teeth.) But it died after 2 or 3 years. They didn’t make it anymore. I threw it out. We’re back to disposables.

    Compared with you, I’m public enemy number one.

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