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John Sciacca Writes...

Features, Reviews and a Blog by John Sciacca

Random Thoughts (Blog)

Random Thoughts (Blog)

Mr. Cooper Drops Information Bombs

Posted on March 12, 2011 at 4:10 PM

You probably figured that we were in for a brief hiatus from Mr. Cooper tales since he just came in and made it rain not too long ago. Usually there is a semi-predictable ebb and flow to my dealings with him; his money slowly ebbs in, it builds to a point where he can’t stand, then it flows out to me and I satisfy his current techno-Jones. Well, just as the occasional, totally unexpected eclipse must have scared the crap out of the ancients – who were able to deal with their fear in a rational, mass human sacrifice atop the pyramid manner – sometimes a call from Mr. Cooper will just...pop up. And for those of you who like reading about Mr. Cooper and his crazy-all-up-in-here bidness – I’m looking at you, Kreg! – he’s baaaaaack!

So when welast left off, Mr. Cooper had come in and paid for his new Definitive speakers but hadn’t yet picked them up. As you’ll recall, I pleaded with him – “I’m begging you – BEGGING you! – please don’t make my buy those power cables for you!” – to not change out the stock power cables on the Definitive Towers for crazy expensive, super-duty, puremium mil-grade copper cabling. He agreed. Albeit reluctantly. So while I was out of town, his speakers came in and he took a day off work to come by and pick them up. So I return and I ask our salesman, Andy, how Mr. Cooper liked his speakers and he says, “Oh, you’ll find out. He’s been calling trying to get hold of you.”

And that’s when Andy tells me that his cable-mania has veered to a whole NEW exponential level of crazy. A level where copper is no longer acceptable but power must be carried over Perfect-Surface SILVER! Somehow – Internet, I am looking at you! – he found this power cable called The William E. Low Signature AC cable from AudioQuest. And he wanted to know if we could get it.

Whaaa?! No! Noooo! I thought that we’d already crossed this treacherous, expensive cable-filled Rubicon. But apparently we’d only taken a brief detour from Cabletania. But now that Mr. Cooper had the speakers at home, forced each and every day to look at the thin, anemic power cords trailing from his new tower speakers, running next to the mega-thick, tow-a-boat-rope connected to his PS3. Clearly it was just too much for him to bear.

Andy told him the price of the WEL Signatures – $7200 for one 3meter cable – and told him flat out that he was crazy and that he should buy a new car instead of these cables. But that bit of information prepared me... The seed of cable upgrade had been planted, germinated and had had at least a full week to sink deep roots into Mr. Coopers mind. And no more than 30 minutes passed before the phone rings and, well, you can guess who was on the other end.

“Hey, Mr. Cooper. What do you think of those new speakers?”

“Oh, Mr. John! They sound great. Much mo’ clearer and louder and better bass. But, I need to get those power cables.”

I try and counter with, “Mr. Cooper, really, I just don’t think that it is going to make any different with the digital amps in those towers...” but it’s no use. He has already disconnected one of his other magic cables and tried connecting them to the tower and they sound “mo’ clearer, mo’ clean and open. And much mo’ better bass.” Damn you, mo’ better bass! I’ve got absolutely NO comeback to you!

So, I do the next best thing; I manage to talk him down to “just” spending $300 a piece on the cables. For two of them.

Well, his cables arrived yesterday – after about 5 calls from Mr. Cooper to monitor the progress via Fed-Ex live-track-blog Web updates – so this morning he came by with a fresh handful of Benjies and picks up the cables and we get to talking. And that’s when he hits me with two information bombs.

If you’ll recall, for awhile I’ve been telling him that of ALL the upgrades I want him to make, a new TV is at the top of the list. (Speakers were number 2...) He has an OLD Sony 34-inch tube TV. So, he tells me that he needs to buy a stand because he has...rented a 65-inch TV! Now, I have to tell you that I think the electronics rental model is one of the biggest rip-offs around, with a fee structure designed to be just this legal side of usurious and preying on those who don’t understand or bother to read the fine print or know how to work out an amortization schedule. So I ask him, “Mr. Cooper, how much are you paying for this set?” He is paying NINETY DOLLARS A WEEK! To RENT a TV!

 So a while ago I did a blog for S+V on the ripoff that rental was. This is what I wrote:

Nothing pisses me off more than seeing people getting ripped off. And few places have the ability to legally dodge usury and predatory lending like stores that sell merchandise on a "rent to own" basis. I received this ad in the mail today where one company is offering a 42-inch LCD for "only" $99.99 a month. In tiny print is the fact that you need to pay for this thing for 24 months and that your total cost is $2639.74. This is a massive RIP-OFF! You would be far better off to purchase the same TV on a credit card. Even if your interest rate is a wallet blistering 24%, if you made the same $99.99 monthly payments, you would pay the TV off in 18 months and save yourself over $830! Even more hateful is the fact that this company is selling this LG 42LG50 for $1499.99, which is $200 more than Best Buy's everyday price, and $450 more than their current sale price. Instead of "Wow!" the ad should say, "OUCH!"

(Yes, I can see that my blogs have grown in size since then... I'll thank you not to point it out -- again! -- dad.)

So I explain that for $90 a week he could buy something awesome and STILL be saving money. And that if he gets in the rut and ends up keeping the set for a year that he will have paid almost $4700 for a set…that he is RENTING! “But I get paid on Fridays, so I can just take the money on down to ‘em.” Oh, Mr. Cooper... You make me sad in heart...

I ask him if he owns a credit card.

“Yeah, but it’s all filled up right now. I got to get that one paid down.” (Lest we forget, I am actually *holding* six-hundred of his dollars in my hand during all of this; $600 that might could help pay down his credit card bill... I can kind of feel the paper pulsing with a tell-tale heart kind of accusing energy...)

So I tell him that the rental deal is SUCH a bad idea and that they are going to charge him an outrageous amount for that TV and that he could just go out and buy it for SO much less. But he says, “Mr. John, I got a buyer right now for my TV and those TVs ain’t easy to sell no mo’. He's gettin my TV tomorrow and I got to jump on this. And I need to watch a TV so what am I supposed to do?” I suggest that he could just go to Best Buy and use one for 30 days and then take it back. Or get a temporary set at The Goodwill. Or just like to music. Or read. Or do ANYTHING else.

Then he drops the second info bomb on me. The tire store he works for is...closing! Mr. Cooper is LOSING HIS JOB! IN JUNE! So, with just a couple months of steady work left, instead of doing the safe thing – OK, I’ll say it; instead of doing the SMART thing – of saving all his pennies and preparing for a possible couple weeks of hunkering down with no income, he is not only renting a TV at $90 a week but he is spending $600 on POWER CABLES! That has got to be like at least a full month’s rent or two months groceries. It’s really so off-putting. I probably would have been less shocked if he would have just sneak attack sack-tapped me the minute he walked in the store. "Well, hi there, Mr. John. This one's for you!" PUNCH! 

I ask if there is anything else in town that is a job like what he does and he says, “I’m just labor. I can be labor anywhere.” But nothing currently lined up; no idea where he’s gonna go or what he’ll do. June is forever away...II tell him not to move away without at least saying goodbye and then he tells me again how much he loves the speakers and then we shake hands and...he leaves.

Ugh. Just...just...soooo soul-crushing. I’m not sure why I feel such a vested interest in this guy. But, well, I do and I hate to see him repeatedly making bad decisions. But at least there always seemed to be more money for him on the horizon; he somehow kept managing to come back -- and back -- with handfuls of cash. But now this... And despite my best efforts to try and help him and steer him towards making better decisions, I always end up feeling bad after he leaves. Sigh... I hope we hear from Mr. Cooper again. And that better tides have washed into his harbor.

Categories: March 2011, CTA

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1 Comment

Reply Craig
4:07 AM on April 18, 2011 
What the hell!?!?