Monday, November 15, 2010

Day 298: Today's Not-So-Special Value

At least once or twice a week, I come home to find a HSN (Home Shopping Network) box waiting outside my neighbor's door. I know the guy who lives there and he doesn't strike me as a home shopping addict, but based on his frequent deliveries, I have to believe that he is.

I've let my imagination run wild trying to decide what products he's ordering from television and if his house is starting to look like the homes featured on Hoarders. He's not a disgusting person or anything, I just see a lot of stuff going into house, and not a lot coming out.

In honor of my neighbor, and my friend Jackie, whose sister recently bought something from the home shopping channel (therefore branding her forever in the category of "those who watch home shopping channels"), Day 298's thing I've never done before was to watch and purchase something from a home shopping channel.

There are three shopping networks on my basic cable: QVC, HSN and one that I'd never heard of,

When I tuned in the evening of Day 298, QVC was featuring big electronic items, none that I needed or could afford (see Day 297 when I talk about not being ready for nice home furnishings); HSN was featuring handbags (totally up my alley); and (yeah, it's a channel, I swear) was featuring gemstone jewelry.

For an hour, I flipped back and forth between the HSN and channels. Handbags, jewelry, handbags, jewelry, handbags, jewelry.

Sounds like a great night of television, right?

But it wasn't.

What should've been, "awesome, awesome, awesome," was more like, "eh, I don't think so, yikes, no way."

The quality of the items for sale was less than stellar for the most part.

The few times an item did come up for discussion (and it was quite a discussion, I'll get to that later) on either of the networks that I did like, I'd consider picking up the phone to dial, but I'd stop myself, not sure if I was ready to pull the trigger, or if I should wait to see what's coming next.

The most entertaining part of the experience was, without a doubt, the hosts of the channel. Their ability to feign excitement over every single piece of crap that crosses their desk is truly remarkable. After giving the basic information to viewers: size, price, color, the hosts would find a way to talk continuously about whatever handbag or pendant they were hocking. For an eternity. As annoying as I found their ridiculous banter to be, I couldn't help but think that this is a job I could be good at. My ability to bullshit is second to none, and it seemed to me that's all these people were really doing. I mean, who gets that excited about an adjustable leather purse strap?

I had just about come to the end of my commitment to home shopping, and had resolved to giving up on buying anything, when I flipped back to Something caught my eye. Yes, like a child, I am drawn to pretty colors and I couldn't take my eyes off a ring that featured a "Mohave green" stone. The host was speaking to the gemologist who had made the ring, and he seemed to know what he was talking about. He mined the stone in that ring with his own two hand and he said it was one-of-a kind (all 5,000 of them for sale that day).

The ring, for my purpose, met all the criteria. It was cheap and I thought I would actually wear it. I found a winner, so I picked up the phone to call And then I hung up immediately, realizing I didn't know my ring size. Is my ring size something I should know about myself? Because I didn't know mine, but according to the table that I consulted after measuring a ring I already own, I am a 9. I dialed again.

I truly hoped that I would have a hilarious story to tell you about the conversation with the home shopping operator, but despite my attempts to be witty, she was all business. She didn't care that this was my first time with a home shopping channel, she didn't care about the blog (I may have mentioned it); she wanted my ring size, my credit card number and my address, and that's it. Even when I asked her to put me through to the on-air hosts to tell them how excited I was to receive my "Sterling Silver Mohave Lime Green Stabilized Turquoise ring" in the mail, she asked me if I had any more questions, and then she hung up.

When the ring arrived, I tore into the packaging like it was Christmas. I opened the container and had a good look at the ring. I'm sure you won't be surprised to hear that the ring looked cheap. Everything about it was wrong. The silver was too shiny, the gemstone didn't match. And the table that I referenced to get my size was also off and the ring didn't even fit. It would've fit my dad. A huge letdown.

Like a lot of things that had arrived in my mailbox over the summer, I left the ring in its box on my kitchen table where it sat for several weeks. My intention was to send it back, but in the midst of a big cleaning spree, I think I might've thrown it away and now I can't find it.

Of all the things I thought I might fail at during this project, shopping was not one of them, but I think I'm going to leave the home shopping to my neighbor.

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