2017-08-02 / Loose Ends

Design Don’ts

A consumer reports
Susan Nienow

Pay attention, product designers. I have some important advice. I have waited for you to ask what I think about the products you design, but have run out of patience. So here it is.

About those grocery carts. If I stand at the back of the cart, I can’t reach the front to empty it when I get to the checkout counter, and there is not enough room in the aisle to get around the cart. So I turn around and ask the next person in line to back up, and you can imagine the resulting irritation all the way down the line.

I feel sorry for short people, since they don’t have a chance here. I celebrate those who designed the newer, smaller carts available in some stores. Unfortunately they are not big enough to handle those huge bags of dog food, but nothing is perfect.

While I love my car, it is way too smart for me. Or maybe devious with a wicked sense of humor. The other day I went out to the car to leave for a meeting. I opened the door, threw my purse in and realized I had left my coffee on the kitchen counter. So I looked for my keys in my rather small purse and couldn’t find them.

I looked under every seat from every angle – no keys. So I got in the driver’s seat and started the car – proof that the keys were there somewhere. I had to find them so I could lock the doors when I got to the meeting. After all, with the keys somewhere in the car, I couldn’t lock it – the car won’t lock with the keys inside.

Finally, I looked straight down in the crack beside the passenger seat, and there were my keys, visible only from that position. Of course, it was too late to get my coffee, but I felt victorious.

Is this a design flaw or a personal problem?

Washing machine designers, lend me your ears. I am taller than average, with long arms, and can hardly reach the bottom of the washing machine to get the socks out. Didn’t you notice? Is there a stool or stepladder that was supposed to come with the machine?

About the TV remote. Mine has 46 buttons on it and doesn’t even wash windows. I have found remote manuals to be marginally helpful. Their writers should write in simple sentences and not use any special lingo. I don’t speak lingo.

When I accidently push the wrong button, I need to get my other half to get the picture and sound back. I am educated. It shouldn’t be that difficult.

Moving on to kitchen cabinets. Why can’t I reach the top shelf? Shouldn’t I be able to use it? Go back to the drawing board and figure that out. We sent people to the moon – this shouldn’t be impossible.

Have the designers tried to change the time on all the clocks in the house twice a year? Some are easy, but others …

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