More and more people are wearing AirPods. I’ve heard a lot of good things about them: good sound quality, long battery life, [insert other trait of Apple products here].
Naturally, I want them.
The big question
Should I buy Apple AirPods?
I already own 3 pairs of headphones. One pair for podcasting and other studio type stuff, a pair of stock Apple earbuds for general listening, and a headset with a microphone for video conferencing. I use all three on the regular.
Do I really need another? Are they worth one hundred and sixty of my dollars?
Any attempt to rationalize this purchase is really just a guess at best. I don’t actually know what will happen to me when I buy the headphones. I’m imagining I’ll be happier, my life will be easier, I will be a more advanced, modern, and efficient person.
At this point, my judgment is so clouded by marketing, consumerism, and cognitive fallacies, I will almost certainly buy them.
Apple has a 14-day, no-questions-asked return policy. Why don’t I just buy them, wipe off the filth of retail promises (often lies), and discover the truth about this headphones. If they’re no good, I’ll just return them.
Will I have the motivation to actually return the AirPods if they aren't as good as I hope?
Typically when I buy something and am not super-duper satisfied, I don’t actually return the thing. I just live with my mistake and block it from my mind. The painful experience of parting with my money is over - I already paid that price.
My solution to this problem was to literally mark a date on my calendar where I go back to the Apple Store and return the AirPods. Whether or not I love them, I have to return them. I can turn right around and buy them at any time, but I MUST return them first.
Is this ethical? Should I really be using, opening, and returning a product I don’t intend to actually pay for?
Apple makes lots of money on this policy. It eases the consumer’s pain and fear of commitment. It also contributes to their identity as a company that provides a high-quality product you won’t want to return.
They make money because of this. They have this policy because it makes financial sense for them. They win this game.
By leveraging this policy to my advantage, I am sharing in their return, or at least calling them on it. They adopted this policy. They make money on it. I’m going to use this policy within their own boundaries to my advantage and sleep soundly at night.
Also, for what it’s worth, I was transparent with the apple salesperson about my plan and they gave me the green light.
This take is heavily influenced by Dan Sheetz’s position on “renting” sunglasses from Sunglass Hut when he travels. Thanks for squashing the notion that businesses do this sort of thing for virtue and morality.
I did it. I bought the headphones, used them for 2 weeks, and returned them at the end of the two weeks.
They were really nice, but they didn’t change my life. They didn’t make me happier or more efficient, but they definitely were high quality, convenient, and fun.
Honestly, I may actually buy them again. But this time, I will have arrived at my decision honestly.
Returns (when legal & ethical) are an escape hatch from the heavy, unavoidable influence of brands and their marketing.
I’ve been using them to make better buying decisions, and demonstrate to my brain the ridiculousness of its product lust.
"Only once you've returned a product, can you truly own it."
- Confuscious (I think)
I’m finding returning things is actually a skill, and it pays to get good at it - maybe I’ll share my findings in a future blog post.
Go forth, and return!