Electric razor case cuts this advocate down to size

I’ve never been so humiliated by a consumer product as I have by this electric razor.

It’s a Braun Series 7. I bought it a few years ago around Father’s Day at Target. And it worked flawlessly — until it didn’t.

You know how I always say, “Never try to be your own consumer advocate?” Well, that’s particularly true if you are a consumer advocate. Oh, and you might want to follow your own advice every now and then, too.

Like I said, humiliated.

A few days ago, out of the blue, the razor ground to a halt. It whirred loudly but shaved hardly a whisker. I tried replacing the blade. It didn’t work.

Well, no problem, I thought. I’ll just go to the Braun website and find my closest authorized repair shop.

The Braun site was an infinite loop, referring me first to a United States section, and finally to a page that was supposed to list the company’s authorized repair centers. But instead, it referred me to an “800” number. When I called, I immediately became entangled in a phone tree that would have made Kafka proud.

The phone number actually referred me back to the site, if you can believe that. You probably can.

Next stop: Target. I consulted the site, but, unsurprisingly, there’s no information about Braun warranties. I phoned Target’s “800” number and spoke with a delightful woman in the Philippines. She informed me that unless I had a receipt or knew the exact date I purchased the razor, they couldn’t do anything. Besides, if I bought the Braun more than 90 days ago, I would have to return it to the manufacturer for servicing.

Back to square one: Braun’s Kafkaesque phone tree.

By this time, you’re probably saying to yourself, “Chris, I’ve lost count of the number of mistakes you made. How could you?”

Let me see if I can name them all:

  • Not keeping a receipt.
  • Not keeping warranty information. Probably not even registering for the warranty.
  • Not remembering when I purchased the unit.
  • Fumbling around the Braun site like an amateur.
  • Calling an offshore call center for Target to find out what I already knew.
  • Writing a post and admitting to all this.

Oh, I probably forgot a few.

Like I said, humiliated.

How could I? I was busy, I was multitasking, my children stole my brain — I don’t know. I just didn’t do it. OK? I didn’t follow the steps.

I know what my penance is. I must go buy a new razor. (I tried using a regular blade, and it just doesn’t cut it. “What happened to you?” my kids said, marveling at the razor burn. Ouch.)

Remember what George Santayana said: “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Sometimes it takes an electric razor to teach you that lesson once and for all.

So here are my takeaways:

Always, always keep the receipt. That’s especially true if it’s one of those big-ticket purchases, like a razor, a toaster or a TV. Don’t count on the retailer or the manufacturer to track you — you have to keep records.

Fill in the warranty. Frankly, I don’t even remember if I did, and if I did, I have no idea where to find the paperwork. I’m such a scatterbrain!

Accept your punishment with dignity. I could have sent a complaint to Braun (for their horrible site) or to Target (for failing to stand behind a product I’d purchased) but really, in the end this was all my fault. I paid $150 in tuition to learn this valuable lesson.

When I buy the next razor, you better believe I’m keeping the receipt and the warranty in a safe place. No more Mr. Nice Guy, Braun. You hear me? No More Mr. Nice Guy.

A final note. I know a lot of you, dear readers, think of yourselves as smart consumers. I like that. Maybe you don’t think something like this could ever happen to you. But you’re wrong. I knew about all of these missteps and traps, and I still was left with a worthless piece of overpriced German engineering.

If it can happen to me, it can happen to you.

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