Filter Takes Water to the Cleaners

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Lesson #1 in business school and media studies is: hardware PLUS software. PlayStation and games, TV and DVDs, iPhone and apps. The consuming must continue after the main purchase or you've got no kind of revenue stream.

The lesson extends to plumbing and refrigerators now, too. An astronomical plumbing estimate was discounted if we purchased a gold circle warranty plan that would ensure we were a plumbing priority. (Shouldn't we be anyway, if we chose to call that particular plumber?) And our Kitchen-Aid fridge was fitted with a water filter that has a complex business plan of its own.

The first filter was free -- easy decision. A timer on the fridge changes color when the filter's six months of efficient filtering are over. Handy! And at the same time, a notice arrived in the mail to remind us, along with an order form and a toll-free number. Time to buy that filter!

The filters cost $55 plus shipping, which seemed a little steep, but okay. (If you've examined the tubing of a 10-year-old refrigerator, you'll want to filter the water.) No ignoring the timer, either, because if the filters aren't replaced every six months, the ice maker stops working. It wasn't the money so much as the well-planned effort to separate us from it. It seemed a little forceful.

The decision was made for us when I snapped off a connection removing a filter.

The business plan accounted for this, though, and discount coupons for the filters arrived in the mail. $10 off! Free shipping!

But it was too late. We brought back the Brita pitcher. Funny how simple and old-fashioned it seems.

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