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When your shorts get in a knot – write

Editor’s note: While Biff America takes an offseason hiatus, we are

re-running some of his favorite columns.

“Let the buyer beware.” “You get what you pay for.” Those two adages pretty much sum up my personal consumer philosophy.



I’m one of those who believe that the reliability and durability of a product should be commensurate with the cost. Usually a free market system tends to weed out the distributors of poorly made stuff.

But with each new line, there is often a learning curve where research and development hasn’t yet intersected with practical application.



It is up to us consumers to keep the manufactures informed and aware. I delight in doing this. If something I bought does not perform up to reasonable expectations, I let them know. This is a copy of a letter I sent to a maker of men’s wear.

Dear Sirs and Madams:

Enclosed you’ll find one pair of your men’s Thermax-power-wicking men’s long underwear, size medium. The underwear you’re holding has been worn only once, and is freshly laundered.

It is also defective. Normally, I would not bother to send back imperfect underwear. I hope you believe me when I tell you my motivation is not monetary. I don’t want any replacement or refund, rather, I want you to know that your product is poorly designed.

I hope you’ll indulge my sharing some of my biographical long underwear-information. I am generally a low end, catalogue or department store long-underwear-consumer. I buy what is on sale, or inexpensive, launder it regularly, and wear nothing underneath. Unfortunately, on a recent business trip to Aspen, I discovered that I had neglected to pack clean tights. Being as department stores in Aspen are as rare as a pimple on a ski instructor’s forehead, I bit the bullet and bought one of your high-priced, smart-fabric long johns that I found in a sport shop.

Though admittedly your underwear was soft and attractive (I loved the zebra stripes and silk-screened elephant trunk) it didn’t take long for me to realize your product was ill-

conceived and poorly designed.

I cannot believe that any of the males on your staff had taken them for a test drive.

My complaint, in a nutshell, is your underwear lacks the structural integrity a man requires. In other words, the one part of me that I insist my tights contain was offered too easy an escape. You can imagine my embarrassment to realize – while skiing at a resort as image conscious as Aspen – I was picking at myself like an amorous monkey.

I can only assume that a female designed the fly, and opted for a quick draw, as opposed to confident confinement. I’ve seen dog doors that provided tighter security.

Lest you think I’m bragging or searching for compliments, let me assure you I’m no more than a normal man in every aspect. If you need verification, feel free to contact my wife.

Since every other pair of long underwear I’ve owned in the past possessed more than enough weight-bearing properties to contain my needs, I can only assume that yours lacks the tensile strength to perform the job most men require.

I realize, at this late date, a long underwear recall is akin to closing the barn door after the horse has already escaped. But that is exactly what those of us who wear your product are forced to do.

Sincerely,

Biff America

This is the dispatch I received back.

Dear Mr. America:

Thank you for your letter.

There are five of us in customer service whose job it is to answer mail and, hopefully, satisfy complaints. I won the coin toss, allowing me to reply. Though you stated you did not want a refund or replacement, please except this $50 gift certificate for any item of our clothing line.

May I suggest one of our fine socks or zippered turtlenecks? I would recommend forgoing any of our many choices of thermax tights, briefs or boxers; we would not want to be responsible for any injuries.

Sincerely,

Margaret Cornstalk

Customer relations

“Silence gives consent.”

If you are not happy with a product, a relationship or your government, speak your mind.

Communicate face to face, write a letter, call to complain. Maybe nothing will change, maybe everything will, but in either case, you’ll feel better. An unspoken opinion is like bad underwear – both can be irritating to your most sensitive parts S

Biff America can be seen on RSN television, heard on KOA and KYSL radio, and read in this and other fine newspapers.


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