You Get What you Pay For

I have a friend who wanted to get a new tablet computer.  He talked with his friends and they advised him on one platform or another.  The consensus was that he should get an iPad.  Now, I have no recommendation on the operating system of choice, but for some people this matters.  What each individual needs to remember when choosing an expensive item or anything else in the world is that the choice has to make sense for themselves and their needs.  It has to be based upon facts, not hopes and promises.

This friend in question was convinced by a less than scrupulous salesperson that even though he wanted an iPad this tablet was just as good for less money.  What he got was a tablet computer that makes money for the cell phone carrier (so they are happy) but doesn't really meet my friend's needs.  He has lost his data (twice) and still doesn't know how to use the tablet.  In the right hands, this is probably a fine tablet and very functional.  In the
hands of another person, it is a paperweight.  When you are unsure of what you are doing, you will often need the advice of a friend or business associate you can trust.

My friend got what he paid for in this case.  He got a tablet he can't use to it's fullest potential and he has a long-term contract to constantly remind him that he was taken.  He may eventually figure out what he needs to know or he may get the advise of someone he trusts.  This got me thinking about all of the advise that litters my email box on a daily basis.  From money making schemes to political "facts".

We have all received (at least once) the email from the Nigerian Prince (or lawyer) telling us we have won a vast sum of money if we will only go to the trouble of claiming it.  This scam must work on some people or it simply wouldn't still exist.  There is even a movie coming out about it.  This scam got me further thinking about the promises from our political agents and government representatives.  There is the believe that if someone in authority stands at a microphone with an official looking seal behind them, then whatever they say must be true.

There was a time in the 1950's that if something was on TV it was true.  This wasn't really the case, but throughout the country it was believed.  This phenomenon even extended to print media.  Today, most adults no longer believe everything they are told (except in the case of medical advise, but that is a different story).  The result is that people have become less trusting of those in authority and now feel the need to check facts before accepting something.

The problem comes when we see enough people we trust spout the same opinion.  We hear anything enough times and we start to accept it as fact.  Certain websites exist for the sole purpose of refuting email chains.  Imagine, an entire business devoted to fact checking millions of lies spread throughout the internet.  How is it that these websites exist (as well as their primary sources) and yet we have the news media and politicians blatantly misleading the American public?  The answer is usually power and money.  Sometimes both, but usually one or the other.

When someone you don't know tells you something that you didn't already know, you should verify it.  Don't verify it with a news article that sounds strangely like an exact copy of the conversation you just had.  Verify the primary source.  If your friend tells you the earth is flat.  Ask where they heard that.  It could simply be that your friend misquoted the source, as in "... during the late 15th century it was once believed that the earth was flat."  Same information, but different meaning.  Go to the primary source.  Don't rely on someone else's interpretation.  Sometimes this isn't possible if the source is in another language. In that case, do your best to seek out a source you can reliably trust based upon other instances that this source was correct on.  A good track record is a good track record.  Trust but verify is a good way to view anything coming out of Washington.

So what happened with my friend.  He got the exact product he was willing to pay for.  Had he put more effort (and money) into the purchase he would have had a better experience.  You should do the same.   After all, you get what you pay for.