Graham Turner on why he doesn’t like too much ‘choice’

toothpaste aisle

toothpaste aisle

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Our washing machine died couple of weeks ago and, needing another one pronto to deal with our daily mountain of laundry – we were straight on to the internet to choose a replacement.

Full of enthusiasm, we went to a reputable site and clicked on ‘washing machines’ – simple. But no, when you’re as indecisive as both me and my wife, to be faced with a choice of 200 machines is very daunting.

We both hate that most modern of phrases, ‘consumer choice’. We don’t like ‘choice’, we just feel swamped and quickly get despondent – which machine really is best for us? But we needed a machine quickly, so where to start? Let’s select the features we think we want.

Energy efficiency is a must when the thing seems to be running almost 24 hours a day – A+++ it is.

Spin speed – fast, very fast, we don’t want damp laundry hanging around. 1,600rpm looks about right.

Spin performance - A, of course. Load capacity – as big as possible , 8kg seems good.

Wash performance – A, obviously. Programmes – like the TV, as many as possible, 18. And the digital display is a ‘must’. All the boxes ticked, click the mouse . . . £1,300, oops. Start again, this time we’ll begin with the price!

I was hit with similar dizzying consumer choice last week when I was despatched to buy toothpaste, somehow forgotten in the weekly shop.

So, into Boots. A whole aisle devoted to toothpaste. Why do we need so many types of toothpaste – all, apparently, offering to tackle a different dental disorder?

Do we want whiter than white teeth? I know my wife prefers this sort, but she has seemingly perfect gnashers and regularly gets gold stars from the dentist, so a bit of gentle blanching is all she needs, but does she want ‘gentle whitening’, ‘max white’ or ‘ISO-Active Whitening’?

What about gum protection, surely we all need that? Or 24-hour fresh breath (I bet!), something to defend the enamel from acid erosion, stain removal, anti-plaque, stuff to make our teeth less sensitive?

In the end, I panicked and went into ‘washing machine mode’, buying what must be the most costly tube of toothpaste ever, but beautifully packaged and promising to do all of the above in one go.

Expensive business, this consumer choice.