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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Drop Dead Dates

Drop dead dates as found in deadlines can be a blessing and a curse.  Probably if there were no April 15th deadline on taxes, the whole system would collapse.  It’s impossible to imagine a successful tax system without deadlines; a payment date of when you feel good and ready to pay would never arrive.  Likewise with term papers in college; without a turn-in deadline, there would be classes that never terminated.  The very human tendency to procrastinate about things that aren’t pleasant makes deadlines necessary. But just as deadlines are necessary, they sometimes seem to jinx the course of events.  Warranties are an example.  It seems that products know that to cause the most grief, they should breakdown one day after the warranty expires.  It seems an affront to our sense of fundamental fairness that a breakdown within year is ok, but a year and a day and you’re out in the cold.  In rare instances, companies can find it beneficial to have a flexible warranty period   For example, if you have work done on your home, and it has a one year warranty, towards the end of the year you think, “I need to be super critical now about the work done, for soon I will be out of warranty.  Let me see if I can generate some issues.”  In such circumstances, by assuring the customer that on items where there are questions, the warranty will be extended a year, the customer is put at ease and will tend to live with rather than raise issues.  In such situations, an extension of the warranty date can be beneficial for the company—issues are not actively sought and customer relations shine.

The drop dead date for all mortals is when life ends.  This is a deadline we rather not think about—on January 4th at 2:37 pm I will breathe my last breath, my heart will pump for the last time.  I will be no more.  We look for a flexible warranty period and find that in life after death.  Only when we die, will real life begin.  This satisfies the urge to procrastinate and provides for a friendly course that never terminates but gets easier as time goes by.

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