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For Openers: Political Ads And Online Buying — Painful!

Editor‘s Note: This humor column was written before the tragic shooting at the Pittsburgh synagogue.

Have you heard? The mid-term elections are next week. Really. Turn on your television and wait a quarter of a second and you might catch one of the thoroughly enjoyable political ads, which is a nice respite from the 3 gazillion pharmaceutical commercials I’m accustomed to seeing.

If pharmaceutical ads include up to a minute’s worth of disclaimers, shouldn’t political ads? Their messages are potentially just as harmful as the drugs we take and, no matter who your candidate of choice is, there can be long-term side effects. Perhaps a disclaimer like: “Seek immediate help if you experience an election lasting more than four hours.”

However, upon further inspection of the political commercials I’ve seen and heard, and the daily deluge of direct mail campaign literature in my mailbox, I have some incredibly great news! (By the way, next to seeing peoples’ dogs on Facebook, nothing brings me more joy than seeing a candidate’s canine on a direct mailer. I always vote for the candidate that has a Golden Retriever.)

Where was I? Ah, yes, the good news. It turns out that every … single … candidate, no matter what side of the aisle, has foolproof solutions to lower our taxes, fix our roads, improve our schools and update decaying infrastructure — while at the same time they reduce spending, create jobs and lower our cholesterol.

See, everything is going to be fine. On to more pressing issues in my life.

I’m not a big online shopper, but I needed a couple of new ink cartridges for my printer, which, next to my mortgage and car payment, is right up there as one of my largest out-of-pocket expenses.

I will never get used to the price of ink. Every time I make a purchase I visualize an oil derrick that just hit a gusher, but ink comes spewing out instead. As I’m sure know, you can literally buy a printer for about the same money you spend on a couple new cartridges. By any chance, is there a candidate promising to lower ink prices?

Anyway, I decided to expedite my purchase of ink by buying them online (with free next-day delivery) from my store’s website, saving what would normally be at least a 40-minute roundtrip to the store. I mean how long could it take online?

It took an hour and 10 minutes online.

I have no ill will toward my ink supplier; the lengthy purchasing process was more a result of my technical ineptness in navigating its website. But, for their sake, I’ll use a pseudonym to disguise the retailer’s name. I will simply refer to it as “Staplers.”

I went to its website and, over the course of 70 minutes, I communicated with three different representatives (Christine, Reggie and Tracy) through a chat room called “Staplers” Live Customer Support. You know the drill — you type a question and you get a typed response back.

It took three representatives because, somehow, I found a way to inadvertently end each chat session before I was finished with my (expletive) purchase.

For the record, I should tell you that a good portion of the 70 minutes was taken up by correcting my (expletive) typos in my original questions.

And this is the absolute truth … my online buying experience was so memorable that I actually printed out the entire transcript of my 70-minute chat room session. It was 11 pages long! But I couldn’t read pages 10 and 11 because I ran out of ink. (Expletive.)

Alan Muskovitz is a writer, voice-over/acting talent, speaker, emcee and an occasional guest host on the Mitch Albom Show on WJR AM 760.  Visit his website at laughwithbigal.com and “Like” Al on Facebook.

Alan Muskovitz

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