2010.10.06 Scared of the dark? Buying a lamp might be scarier

Written by David Green.

By RICH FOLEY

They just don’t make lamps like they used to. At least I’m having a hard time finding a reliable one. Not only that, the warranty instructions to my new one are downright scary.

A couple of weeks ago, my reading lamp, which is actually a desk lamp placed on a high end table, stopped working. I assumed the problem was the bulb, one of those weird, “four-pin” compact fluorescents. I had a similar lamp a few years ago and couldn’t find replacement bulbs anywhere when it burned out. The company itself sold them, but I was able to buy a whole new lamp for less than the price of the replacement bulb.

This time, however, the bulb wasn’t the problem. I also own a floor lamp that takes the same type of bulb. Its bulb wouldn’t work in the desk lamp, but the desk lamp bulb worked fine in the floor lamp. Obviously, there was some sort of internal problem in the lamp. I’m not aware of anyone who still does small appliance repair, so it was time to go lamp shopping.

The first acceptable one I found cost $40, about double what I paid for the last one. But the store also had an old-fashioned high-intensity clip-on desk lamp with a 40-watt bulb. Not exactly what I was looking for, but marked down from eight dollars to a mere five bucks. If nothing else, it would bridge the gap until I found a lamp I really liked.

It actually worked extremely well as a reading lamp, but its light was concentrated in such a small spot that I still needed a better lamp to help light the rest of the room. The fine print on its instructions was entertaining, though, and reminded me of a long-ago purchase.

Among the various warnings was one that stated “Because small electrical appliances do not lend themselves to normal repair procedures, the consumer should not attempt such repairs.” Instead, if the lamp failed within the first two years, they wanted me to return it at my expense to be fixed, along with including an extra $10 for “handling costs.”

Add in the postage cost and I would be paying $15 to $20 to get a replacement for an eight dollar lamp that cost me five dollars. Suddenly, it seemed like 1983 again.

I had just rented my first apartment and among other furnishing purchases, I bought a stereo at the Adrian Mall Sears store for $99. A few weeks later, I got a call from someone at the store wanting to sell me an extended service contract. For only $139, they would do any needed repairs for three years. When I passed on the offer, they asked me why.

I explained that with the money I saved by not buying the contract, I could throw out the stereo if it broke, buy a new one, and have money left to buy some record albums or cassettes. They never called me back after that. Twenty-one years later, it was still working fine, but didn’t make the cut when I moved to Fayette. Sometimes, I wish I had kept it. But back to the present day...

A store in Adrian recently advertised a desk lamp similar to my broken one for $22. I bought it and have been happy with it so far. The box claims that the full spectrum bulb simulates natural sunlight. Wasn’t that the type of lamp they were prescribing a few years ago for people with depression? It’s a lot cheaper to buy a $22 lamp than Zoloft or Prozac or whatever the current pill is.

Then again, the lamp’s warranty includes depression-inducing words like execute, wrongdoing and suspect. For instance, “This lighting product will execute its illumination function when properly assembled.” How about just saying it’s guaranteed to work if put together correctly?

And the lamp’s warranty does not cover “negligence, wrongdoing or improper care.” What exactly do they mean by wrongdoing in this context?

If your purchase fails to work within two years and you are somehow able to prove absence of wrongdoing, then it’s acceptable to return it as long as you remember that “suspect units must be properly packed.” I guess your lamp is suspected of being operable until proven to be broken by the manufacturer.

Do you suppose someone at the factory threatens returned “suspect” lamps, maybe with a rubber hose? “We know you’re not broken! Now turn on!” Maybe not. But those sure are odd instructions. Next time a lamp fails, I just might buy a bunch of candles instead.

  • Play Practice
    DRAMA—Fayette schools, in conjunction with the Opera House Theater program, will present two plays Friday night at the Fayette Opera House. From the left is Autumn Black, Wyatt Mitchell, Elizabeth Myers, Jonah Perdue, Sam Myers (in the back) and Lauren Dale. Other cast members are Brynn Balmer, Mason Maginn, Ashtyn Dominique, Stephanie Munguia and Sierra Munguia. Jason Stuckey serves as the technician and Trinity Leady is the backstage manager. The plays will be performed during the day Friday for students and for the public at 7 p.m. Friday.
  • Front.F.school
    PROGRESS continues on the agriculture classroom addition at Fayette High School. The project will add 2,900 square feet of space and include an overhead door that would allow equipment to be driven inside. The building should be ready for the start of school in August. Work on ball fields and a running track is also underway.
  • Front.rover
    CLEARING THE WAY—Road crossings in the area on the construction route of the Rover natural gas pipeline are marked with poles and flags as preliminary work nears. Ditches and field entry points are covered with thick planks in many areas to support equipment for tree clearing operations. Actual pipeline construction is progressing across Ohio toward a collecting station near Defiance. That segment of the project is expected to wrap up in July. The 42-inch line through Michigan and into Ontario is scheduled for completion in November. The line is projected to transport 3.25 billion cubic feet of natural gas every day.
  • Front.geese
    ON THE MOVE—Six goslings head out on manuevers with their parents in an area lake. Baby waterfowl are showing up in lakes and ponds throughout the area.
  • Accident
    FAYETTE resident Patricia Stambaugh, 64, was declared dead on the scene of a single-vehicle accident Friday morning south of Morenci. Rescue units were called around 9 a.m., but as of Tuesday, law enforcement officers had not yet determined the time of the accident. According to Ohio State Highway Patrol, Stambaugh was driving west on U.S. 20 when her Chevrolet Malibu traveled off the north side of the road and down a steep embankment, coming to rest in Bean Creek (Tiffin River).
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Face Paint
    FUN NIGHT FUN—Savanna Miles sits patiently while Abbie White works on a face paint design Friday during the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Gracie Snead watches the progress after having spent time in the chair. Abbie was one of several volunteer painters, each creating their own unique look. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2017