Belted and Buckling

I have been awake since 3:30 and find myself in total agreement, for once, with Marco Rubio. The Florida senator is on a quest to end this time-changing nonsense, and I am — on this issue — completely in his corner. Is it enough to make me a single-issue voter? Yes, at 3:30 a.m.

It is going to take me a week, if not two, to get my system adjusted to this non-saving time, where we trade morning darkness for evening darkness so it’s not clear to me what we’ve really gained, and at the end of those two weeks it will be just about time to spring forward without joy once again.

I just conducted a quick check of my archives and see that I regale you with this topic twice every year. So I guess I don’t have much to add, just an extra explanation for being tired and cranky(er) this morning.

I also see I went on radio silence again for about a week, despite me thinking we had covered multiple topics in conversations that apparently only took place in my head. I did expend some valuable blogging time in communication with the Mission Belt company, getting precisely nowhere fast.

The first time Lynn bought me a click belt, a belt that provides quarter-inch adjustments rather than inch intervals, it arrived in pieces. It wasn’t a belt; it was a belt kit you were supposed to assemble yourself with only the aid of four badly-drawn pictures on the underside of the box. It went back to the company, whose name I can’t recall, and I left a negative review. In retrospect, there wasn’t anything wrong with the belt’s components, all of which were quite attractive, but I wanted a belt, not a do-it-yourself project.

Sometime after that I found the Mission Belt company, which sizes its click belts, sending them to the user already assembled. However, their first iteration consisted of extremely gaudy belts with sports team buckles and colors. They’ve now expanded their repertoire, so Lynn bought me a basic brown belt, size medium.

The buckle color, brown, was still unfortunate, but the belt arrived in one ready-to-go piece and the click feature was tremendous, and very helpful, since I have started experimenting with $15 jeans from Tractor Supply that come in “relaxed” (politically-correct speech for “fat old men”) sizing that is a little too relaxed for my hips. Tighten a couple notches for walking; loosen for sitting . . . life was good, for all of one month.

The Mission Belt people, whose mission is to donate 10% of each sale to a vaguely-specified charity, are trying to have it all, and it’s not working. Although their belts come in at least four sizes, small to extra-large, they apparently want to make sure they’re not alienating the do-it-yourself belt crowd, which as a belt-wearer of many decades I had no idea was a subset of my species, and they provide instruction on how to trim your belt down if for some reason you don’t know your waist size.

The only way this works is if the back of the belt fastens into the buckle with a clasp with teeth that bite into the leather. While I had absolutely no need to adjust my new belt at the back end and never touched the clasp, it began giving way a month into my ownership.

Initially on a weekly basis, but then daily and ultimately every occasion, the clasp would give way as I buckled myself into the front portion of the belt. Do you know where a buckle goes when it’s not held up by either end of the belt? On my bare toes, that’s where — and just like that, the thrill of my new click belt was gone, exasperation in its place.

Rather than write a review, which would probably have been the better service for mankind, I sent an e-mail of disappointment to the company. Here is what we can say of the Mission Belt company: they respond very promptly, and very cheerfully.

It turns out my belt comes with a one-year warranty, and I was assured the clasp should not be doing that. If I would kindly send them an invoice number, the serial number on the buckle, my shipping address, a picture of the problem, a sample of my blood and the promise of my first-born child, they would look into the matter for me.

I pondered on this for a few days. I actually hadn’t asked for anything and had no idea the belt came with a warranty. But this seemed like a lot of documentation for a 40-ish dollar purchase, and I wondered if they have that many people trying to get free belts and buckles out of them.

I was pondering on this as Lynn came home with a story, I forget where she heard it, about a genius who tried to chisel a big-box store out of some expensive electronic gadget. Let’s just call it a PlayStation, because I can’t remember those details, either. The man picked up his box at the store and returned a day or two later, claiming it contained a set of encyclopedias rather than his PlayStation.

You know, that sort of mix-up often happens at the factories where PlayStations and encyclopedias are manufactured side by side, or perhaps his intent was to accuse a warehouse worker of making the switch, but in his zeal to get free stuff while also getting rid of obviously unwanted, unread encyclopedias, he failed to account for the nameplates in the books.

The store clerk, noticing the plates, asked to see a driver’s license, and when it was confidently handed over, the clerk held out a book bearing the same name — and the would-be con man turned around and left.

So yes, I suppose there probably are people who would like a new free buckle or belt, but I didn’t really want anything except to express my disappointment.

I sent three of the four things Mission requested, but since Lynn had made the purchase and abhors paperwork of any sort, including electronic, she couldn’t readily find an invoice. Even with my blood and firstborn, Mission Belt was prompt and cheerful but adamant: Oooh, we can’t help you even though we really want to.

They did manage to track Lynn down well enough to tell her exactly what belt she bought and request a review (that they really don’t want), but they wanted her purchase information before going any further with me. As a business owner who traffics in a similar price range, I have to say if a customer complained and provided a shipping address, I would just send a replacement, even if I ended up with a boxload of old encyclopedias. I certainly would not ask for the extensive proof Mission requires.

But I don’t want a replacement clasp, even if it’s warrantied for a whole year. I wore my last belt for somewhere between 10 and 20 years. I suggested, in the e-mail where I explained all this to them, that they consider snaps, like old-fashioned belts, to attach the back end. Then people can buy all the new buckles they want to go with their belt, and none of them are going to drop on bare toes.

In the meantime, I have duct-taped my buckle, which helps cover the ugly color of the buckle as well as keeping the back end in place. It’s not pretty, but it’s much safer and will hopefully hold until such time as I can find a belt company that can make a completed, sized click belt with a functional and preferably nice-looking buckle. There has to be one like that, hasn’t there?

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