Stuff that sucks: Griffin and HP edition

I hate stuff that sucks. And these days, it seems like more stuff sucks than ever. The era of things being built to last has long since passed. Even the era of planned obsolescence is obsolete. We are living in an era when most things aren’t built to be any good in the first place. Printer companies, in particular, seem to have adopted the Gillette model of disposal razors: give the printer away for free (well, almost), and reap huge profits on ink cartridges. Now, you’d think that in order to keep their customers in need of ink cartridges, they would at least ensure that their printers work. But they’ve learned that’s not even necessary. It’s cheaper to just swap the duds with “refurbished” replacements than to ensure that no duds leave the factory in the first place.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

My gripe today did not start with my HP Photosmart C4580 all-in-one inkjet printer/copier/scanner. I have a perpetual low-level gripe with it, to the point that I’ve become numb to the absurdity of having to restart the supposedly always-on, Wi-Fi enabled printer to get it to actually recognize commands from computers on my network. No, today’s gripe began with the Griffin Reveal case I purchased along with my new iPhone 3G S three weeks ago.

At first the case seemed fantastic, but within a few days I noticed little bits of dust/grains of crud/whatever were getting down inside. I removed it, cleaned away the crud, and replaced it. But the crud came back, and as the days went on it got worse.

Now, just three weeks after I bought the phone, the Griffin Reveal has left permanent, deep pits in the back of my iPhone. Observe, in this pathetically blurry picture that — for reasons I’ll explain in a bit, though you may already be able to guess given the rant that started this post — I took with my old iPhone (which now belongs to SLP).

The pits.

Now, if you could see any detail at all in this picture, you’d see that there are dozens of little pits in the back of the phone, like I stabbed it repeatedly with a drafting compass. (Which I assure you I did not. I haven’t owned a drafting compass since geometry class in tenth grade.)

Here’s the culprit, which I am contemplating returning to the Apple Store for a refund:

The culprit and its stupid box.

And, yes… the blurry photos. I was going to scan the back of the new iPhone with my HP all-in-one, but the flippin’ thing won’t scan for some reason. I just scanned some stuff with it last week, but now the HP Scan Pro software crashes each time I try to use it. The scanner will kick in, scan a few inches, and then bail out with a pointless error message.

Translation: We suck.

Bear in mind that this error message appeared after my clicking of the “New Scan” button in the software caused the scanner to sputter to life and begin (but not finish) scanning.

I tried restarting the scanner. I tried restarting the scanner and my computer (twice). I tried deleting preferences and I tried opening HP Scan Pro directly instead of letting HP Device Manager fire it off and I tried using a USB cable instead of Wi-Fi and I tried standing on my head and chanting dark incantations by the light of the full moon. Nothing worked.

So much suck in such a small package.

Update, the next morning: Having “slept on it,” I recognize how much Apple is to blame here. Aesthetics do often trump practicality in Apple’s industrial design. The shiny black plastic on the back of the iPhone sure looks nice, at least when it’s new, but it’s way too soft and scratch-prone. My old iPhone had a brushed aluminum back, which I loved. And to be honest, the plastic back was a big deterrent for me with the first iPhone 3G. I shouldn’t need a case for my phone. A device that goes in people’s pockets and purses ought to be made from materials that are suitable for that environment.

That said, the pits caused by the Griffin Reveal case are far worse than the superficial scratches it would have received without it. I suppose the case does still provide extra protection if the phone gets dropped, so now I’m debating putting the case back on, despite the damage it’s caused so far.

Another update, later in the day: Well, there will be no returns… I checked my Apple Store receipt and it needed to be returned within two weeks. It has a one-year warranty (WTF?) though, but it seems more trouble than it’s worth. Unless I can get a new iPhone 3G S on the spot, I’d rather just live with the damage. Which is just what they’re hoping I’ll do. Sounds like HP.