The pain of Buyer’s Regret

I suppose many of us occasionally suffer from a case of Buyers Regret. By this I mean that emotional sense of remorse, or guilt, over making some major purchase and then later suffering the anxiety of post-purchase blues.

I suppose many of us occasionally suffer from a case of Buyers Regret. By this I mean that emotional sense of remorse, or guilt, over making some major purchase and then later suffering the anxiety of post-purchase blues.

Many adults and seniors today grew up during a time where only their needs were met and wants were suppressed. Their childhood was spent in an atmosphere where going without was a way of life and where wants were seldom allowed and often unacceptable. There was no impulse buying; every purchase was duly considered.

Perhaps that is why after we do make a purchase we experience the anxious trepidation that we may have made a mistake; that we paid too much, maybe we should have shopped around, waited, or bought something smaller, or bigger, or used the money for something altogether different, or not purchased at all and enjoyed the strangely delightful, but uncommon, pleasure of frugality winning out over desire.

Whether we purchase a new TV, computer, vehicle or a new home, the post-purchase blues can begin to ring.

The niggling doubt that we may have made a mistake, and not wishing to be wrong, undermines our confidence. Every decision to purchase an item falls prey to more than logic alone.

Every decision has an emotional element that often dictates our actions and often trumps logic. Our preferences are often a result of our emotional conditioning and experiences. Every major purchase is a result of both logic and emotion.

It does not seem to matter whether you purchase a new TV, a new vehicle or a new home. Before you purchase, the options are wide open. In the pre-purchase mode you have many degrees of freedom, because you have not committed yourself totally.

I recently bought a new truck. My old truck was nearing 10 years of age, and I had taken in to the dealer for repairs. The customer service/waiting room was strategically located only two car lengths from the showroom floor.

A guy naturally tends to wander while waiting, and I soon found myself kicking the tires of the new vehicles on display. Clean and chromey, the new vehicles raise one’s desires, especially so when you can get to touch, smell and see up-close the latest in mechanical conveyances.

One thing leads to another, and soon you find yourself test-sitting the driver’s seat and making vroom-vroom noises in your head. Imagination is a powerful amplifier of desire, and it does not take long to imagine yourself enjoying a new vehicle.

In the hour or so it took to diagnose the problem with my old truck, the lure of owning a new one was dangling in front of my eyes. The hook was baited, and I now know how a jackfish is attracted by the red and white stripes of a Len Thompson lure. I was re-scheduled for the replacement repairs a week later.

During that time, the vision of a new truck kept appearing in my mind, and the hook needed only to be set past the barb so no release was possible.

On my return a week later, I used my waiting time to investigate prices and options. Within the next week I had made a commitment to purchase. I was happy to have made a decision, and no longer dithering. I had swallowed the hook, line and sinker of my ratiocinative ways.

A week has now passed; I have the new truck home, and the last few days I have been subject to Buyers Regret.

There is little wrong with the truck, but lots wrong with me. In a perplexing way, the pre-purchase joy, pleasure, and satisfaction that we imagined we would have, somehow becomes diminished by ownership.

Like other things in life, the anticipation exceeds the actual. I feel some remorse in buying when I didn’t really have to, in buying when the money could have been used for other things, in buying when I could have gotten by just fine with the old truck for a few more years.

Strangely enough, once you make a major purchase, the options and freedom you previously felt, are now gone. But by now, you have invested the time, money and energy in purchasing and feel committed to what you have.

The only way out now is to accept my commitment and further rationalize it so that I am content with myself. I have to live with my decision and am bound by the choices I made.

But what the heck, life is short, I’ve worked hard, I deserve it, everybody else drives new, why deny myself, it’s only money, and I need reliable transportation.

For the first while I was careful to keep it clean and shiny and tended to its every whim. The shiny paint is now road stained, the silver metallic now a muddy drab transit taupe color and she ain’t as pretty as when I didn’t know her as well.

I have done my part in stimulating the local economy and once the new truck gets initiated with its first rock chip, paint blister, scratch and dent, the good old days will return. I will have a road-worthy truck and no desire to covet another for at least 10 years.

Paul Hemmingson is a writer living near Spruce View.

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