Thursday, 2 August 2007

Packaging & Pricing

When I first came to America, I was utterly blown away by all of the excessive and wasteful packaging everywhere I turned — such that I'd never seen back in England. And when I say 'excessive', I'm not at all exaggerating! For example, I've seen sealed plastic bottles of pills further packaged inside of sealed boxes! Why the extra box over and on top of a sealed bottle? It makes absolutely no sense to me at all.

I believe it was roughly ten years ago that there was a so-called bill for a proposed reduction or elimination of wasteful packaging in America — one that was ousted straight away. Why? I've got no idea. It would lead one to believe that wastefulness is considered a very important virtue in America, wouldn't it?

Well, as if that isn't bad enough, I've had the sheer displeasure of buying a box of pasta, grains or a similar product, for example, and open the box to find it barely over half full! Have you noticed this too? A lot of these boxes have windows in them and the content only reaches to the top of the window — which is located in the centre of the box — deceiving you into thinking you're getting a full box! Mind you, this has got nothing whatever to do with content 'settling' during transport. I assure you that it wouldn't settle to a mere half full container! I'm not daft enough to be fooled by that, as packages only 'settle' a little bit, not to a half-filled box or carton!

OK, so let's add insult to injury, shall we? Recently, I bought a bottle of pills that was not packaged in a box (that's an improvement); it was a nutritional supplement that was in a sealed plastic pill bottle. Good enough ... BUT ... when I opened the bottle, it was empty! Well, almost, as there were only a small amount of tablets at the very bottom of the bottle! It wasn't three-quarters full; it wasn't half full; it wasn't even one-quarter full! It was hardly full of any product at all! Why the HUGE bottle for only a titbit of tablets?!?!

This makes me absolutely livid! So I'm looking at all of the excessive and wasteful packaging — all for the sake of deceiving the public! Pray tell me: what is the point in all of this? What is it actually serving — to deceive people and create all of this waste? Is it not bad enough that the package labels are so misleading and deceptive in the first place?

Here's a good example of deceptive labelling: I see packages of biscuits (or cookies) that say 'shortbread' on them. I come from 'shortbread' country, so I know what shortbread is, right? Shortbread consists of flour, sugar, butter and water. When I look at the ingredients of any of these so-called 'shortbread' biscuits, not one of them contains butter — the one ingredient that would qualify these biscuits as shortbread! Why do they call these biscuits 'shortbread' when they are nothing of the sort? They don't even taste like shortbread! Lies, lies, lies, lies, lies are all I see!

It seems that most businesses who package products have jumped on the bandwagon of deceit — putting little bits of product in hugely oversized boxes, jars, tins, bottles, bags (oh, don't you just love those bags all full of nothing but air?), and so forth.

Let me say that I'm not in the least impressed. Quite the contrary, I'm so put off by all this! I cannot tolerate lies and deceit and anything that's so overtly and covertly misleading — all for the sake of $£. Funny how things having to do with $£ seem to, more often than not, come up dirty, corrupted and sleight of hand. What a shame, really, and it's so unnecessary! Yet people just blindly go along with all this without even noticing or having a second thought about it and they merely continue in their sleepwalking ... but I want to say WAKE UP!

Alas, people will try to defend all of this in the name of marketing and 'that's just the way you're supposed to do it' kind of mentality, but that just doesn't fly with me. It's still about deception! When you've got a truly good product or service, lying and hype are completely unnecessary. Integrity and honesty are what 'sells' in my book. I know from experience, because I run a business — one that's centred in love and service to others.

The only reason why all of these deceivers get away with this nonsense is because people let them. People need to start paying attention to what's going on all round them and noting the deception, waste, manipulation and dumbing down that's going on. The joke's on us, Friends, and I hate to think that we're that daft to fall for, and not be disturbed by, such lies. I would have thought that most of us were taught that lying is not a virtue; yet we not only fall for the lies circulating all round us every single day, we allow them and go along with them! By doing this, we affirm and perpetuate the lie! Think about it!

Yesterday, I saw an advert for a place to let that said, "Pay only half a month's rent!" It sounds like a bargain, right? Then, when you read the actual advert, they tell you that the place is available in the middle of the month, so of course you're only going to pay 'half a month's rent'! Duh! A moron could have figured that one out, for goodness sake! It's all a deception ploy just to lure you in and steal your $£ or power...

Another form of deception that really bothers me is pricing. For example, I'd hear someone say, "It was $14.99" and I immediately thought, 'you mean $15'! Well, isn't that what it really is: $15? What's all this mind manipulation and deception over a flipping penny — a PENNY!? And then, in many instances, they'll print the '14' really big and the '99' will be so miniscule as to be rendered almost invisible. Blimey, they really want to hide that extra dollar or quid from you, don't they — that is, until you reach the cashier and you're flipping well expected to pay that extra dollar or quid for sure! Smokescreens are everywhere!

Why are people so stuck on this deceptive game and why are they playing into it? It takes a lot more breath to say 'four-teen-ninety-nine' than to say 'fifteen', doesn't it. Let's count the syllables: four-teen-nine-ty-nine' is five syllables and 'fif-teen' is only two ... plus '15' is a lot more honest and straight forward, isn't it? It also takes a lot more space on a page to print $14.99 than $15 — taking up three extra spaces — all for a penny! Give me a break! :(

Why does this bother me so much? Because it is a manipulative game of deception, that's why — pure and simple. What's the big deal over one silly little penny — that doesn't even buy anything anymore? Now in the UK, it's the same story in many cases, since the currency has gone into the decimal system ... but not quite as bad as in America ... yet. And it's not just in the US and UK; it's all over the place! Practically every retail outfit does it! You see $x.99 ($x.98/$x.95) or $99 or $9,999.99 and it's just the most absurd and hideous thing to me. People are mindlessly just going along with all this ... but do they not even notice this tricky mind game? I do and you better believe I do, because I see the lies and deceit all over this! It's screaming at me every time I see that $x.99 or £x.99 crap.

Alas, someone will try to defend this nonsense by claiming that, "It looks better" or "It makes you think you're paying less" and so on. Exactly! Let's make you think something that's not so! Lies, Lies, LIES! To me, that's an insult to our intelligence. It's not real; it's not honest; and it's so unnecessary ... period!

It makes me sad to realise that people are so committed to undermining one another — some very deliberately and others without even being aware of what they're actually doing, because they just mindlessly 'go along' with this insidious game like a bunch of robots.

There are two points to all this: First, people need to wake up and start actually thinking for themselves or we're going to be in loads of trouble. Second, being deceptive — either wilfully or unknowingly (because one's not thinking for one's self, taking responsibility, or paying any attention) — is simply not right. In fact, it's downright abominable, in my way of thinking. As long as we are committed to being dishonest and deceiving one another and wilfully out to undermine one another, we're never going to heal all the misery and suffering that's going on throughout our world. We need to learn to live together in harmony and start regarding one another as members of one family or community, because — like it or not — we are one family who share one planet.

Furthermore, the force that's behind all of this crazy behaviour is ... fear! It fosters thoughts like: "If I don't deceive someone over a flipping penny ... or provide an overpriced and only half full package of product, etc., I may not get mine!" That's fear talking, not love. Well, I'd rather live 'without' than to be a blithering idiot and deceive my fellow human being. I just can't do that ... nor will I.

We need to think about using integrity in our lives and being loving and supportive of one another — not trying to 'get one over on someone' kind of mindset. We better take the time to think about what we're doing to one another and to our world. And, as Mark Knopfler so rightly states in his song, One World:

If we can't find a way to be
One world in harmony
Can't get no antidote for ... blues

Fear begets lack and Love begets abundance.

Think about it...

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