Web makes it easier to buy specialty items

By John Toth

The Bulletin


I buy everything I can locally, preferably in my hometown so that the sales tax I pay goes to the city I live in.


But there are a few unusual items that I cannot find in local stores. For example: A 1980s-looking boombox that plays cassettes, but also has bluetooth and can record onto a flash drive, which it can also play.


This is a type of weird specialty item that long-in-the-tooth geeks like me appreciate. You can’t find stuff like this in your neighborhood store.


So, I buy these things from Amazon or on eBay, but mostly on Amazon. Other examples are: Replacement tops for 5-gallon water cooler bottles; replacement tops for RTIC mugs; Car chargers that also double as a 12V power source and an air compressor; A portable HD FM radio that tunes in radio stations’ digital substations, which often broadcast music without commercial interruptions.


You get the picture. The Internet is a geek’s dream for this.


For the past few weeks, Amazon has been trying to sell me a “bottle shower head.” They must have looked at my ordering history and thought I’d be the perfect target for this pitch. To make things more enticing, they even lowered the price by $1.04. I don’t know how they came up with that discount. It had to be a decision made deep inside the company computer algorithms. Anyway, it’s not something I could buy locally.


They also pitched the dog angle - how this is perfect to wash off dogs outside where there is no faucet or water hose. Unfortunately, the last of our dogs has died of old age, so that was not such an effective message.


This piece of rubber-looking shower head screws onto a 2-liter bottle and when turned upside down and pressed, it creates a shower stream.


Where was this smart little item when I was a child in summer camp and forced to take three-day hikes in the wilderness?


I was less than enthusiastic about carrying a backpack and walking uphill all day. All the other kids were excited, though - until the first mountain.


I could have stuck this thing into my backpack and taken showers on the hike. After the first day, I would have been really popular with the group. I would have gladly shared, of course. But they would have had to use their own soap and water.


“Perfect for camping, hiking or beach,” says the description. “Turn any plastic water bottle into a portable shower.”


And, there is a “lifetime warranty.” How can it get any better? Whose lifetime, though?


To make sure that this was the right product for me, I started reading the 1,715 reviews, which give it a 4.5 rating out of five. That’s pretty good. A lot of satisfied customers.


I always read the one-star ratings first. If they’re not too bad, I’ll switch to the five-stars and let them convince me to buy it.


The one-star is only 3 percent of the total. That’s really good. Now let’s see what they say.

“Worthless”, “junk”, “this was a waste of money”, “pretty useless gadget.”


That wasn’t too bad. Let’s give this product a try. I’ll click on it a few times and try to get the price down some more. Are you watching algorithms? I’ll buy it, but not at $13.95. That’s just too much for a piece of soft plastic with holes in it.


Wait, there is another post - three of them for just $1 more. You’re killing me. Let me see if they also have a lifetime warranty.