Dixie Peach: At Least Kiss Me Before You Screw Me

Cooler than the other side of the pillow.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

At Least Kiss Me Before You Screw Me

Let's say you wanted, for whatever reason, to buy a one button mouse. No second button, no wheel - just one button. Would you pay 108€ (roughly $140) for it?

B has a infrared transmitter that allows him to answer the phone, dial a number on it, turn the TV on and operate the channels and volume, and operate the digital TV decoder box. This is not new technology - he's had this system for about ten years. He's able to operate the transmitter by using a flat disk that contains a tiny switch inside - the exact same sort of switch that's under the buttons on your mouse. The disk covers the tiny switch and by him pressing the disk with the side of his wrist he's able to engage the switch mechanism. The disk switch is connected to the transmitter via a thin wire. Depending on how fast and how often he presses the switch determines what operations will be conducted. It's hard to explain but bottom line is what B directly uses is a tiny switch that costs a few cents that's covered by a two disk shaped pieces of plastic, one of which has a foam rubber no-skid bottom and it's all connected to the transmitter by a thin piece of insulated wire. And this button thing is just about to crap out. I have repaired it as best I can but my bubble gum and baling wire tricks are about at their end. I'd need MacGyver to fix this thing again.

This is the thing that's going to cost us 108€ to replace. A switch that has way fewer parts than the computer mouse that's sitting in front of you now.

The whole things-to-make-the-lives-of-the-disabled-better racket drives me crazy. While I'm certainly grateful that they exsist, I can't help but feel as though we're being ripped off. People with usually the least ability to buy specialized equipment are charged the most for it. The telephone we have? To replace it would cost us in the neighborhood of 885€. Now I'm not in the market for a new phone since ours works fine but there's a little problem with ours. The phone cord is frayed and is about to break off the handset. So just buy another cord and replace it, right? Wrong. The cord is directly connected into the phone. The end of the cord that goes into the handset has a connector inbetween but the part that's connected to the phone itself is directly joined inside the phone, just like phone cords were 25 years ago. Once that cord tears away completely the handset will be useless and while the speakerphone part would work, sometimes we have to use the handset. Tell me that's not a planned way to get you to replace a phone.

It's hard not to feel cheated about this whole thing. I understand that there isn't a huge market for speicalized equipment that quadriplegics can use but what irks me is that we're not talking about space age technology. We're not talking about some shit that Stephen Hawking uses - stuff that allows him to talk by him doing God knows what - we're talking about stuff that's not much of a step up from a Clapper. Your cell phone is probably more sophisticated technology-wise than this stuff. The components themselves aren't expensive but they're selling it to a limited market and not too many companies are in the business of making this stuff and so they charge as high a price as they can. And this goes for virtually every piece of equipment that a disabled person uses - from wheelchairs to shower chairs to hospital-type beds. Even things like the hard plastic basin I use to wash B's hair cost us over 100€. It's a plastic basin with a drain in the bottom and a hose that carries the rinse water away to the jug I catch it in...but it's made to be used with a bedridden person and so the makers will charge a high price and wait for people to buy it.

Sometimes insurance will cover the cost of these things but many times they only pay a part of the cost or they pay nothing at all. If I had to replace the whole transmitter/switch/phone contraption thing we have now I'd pay roughly 2000€ out of my own pocket. This is one of the cheaper systems available.

And I'd hope we wouldn't have to replace the foam rubber no-skid pad on the bottom of the transmitter button. A new one costs 25€.


Blogger Mr. Fabulous said...

Wow, I don't blame you for feeling cheated. That is just ridiculous!

11:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I completely understand your pain! Assisted living utensils costs are ridiculous!

4:55 AM  
Blogger Jemima said...

I'm getting a word, and the word is exploitation. It is an outrage, but I guess we shouldn't be surprised to find society/business exploiting those who are least able to afford it or defend themselves. That's capitalism.

Hoo, sorry to get all political. (I'm not even awake yet.) It's angry sympathy, honestly it is.

7:58 AM  
Blogger Miz said...

As if life wasn't hard enough.

8:48 AM  
Anonymous Lisa said...

Commiseration from this corner. That's thievery. I wonder if there's any way to get around it.

9:38 AM  
Anonymous candace said...

That's terrible! Is there any way you could just use an Apple mouse? They're one-button by default.

12:07 PM  
Blogger christina said...

Highway robbery! I wonder if you can report rip offs like that to the "Verbraucherzentrale"?

3:08 PM  
Blogger sari said...

I tried to respond yesterday but my stupid computer kept freezing up!!

I just don't think this is fair.

(I know, I came back just to say that).

Hugs to you both, I've been thinking about you a lot lately.

3:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WOW! It's ridiculous. You should contact John Stossel (sp?) from 60 minutes/Good Morning America. He could do a news piece on "the raping of the disabled" or something like that. Maybe it would make some people take notice and maybe his investigative journalism would find ways to get around some of these things or some companies that are cheaper.

3:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aw man!! I hate reading stuff like this! AS if life isn't hard enough already... I'm so sorry you both have to go through this crap!


6:04 PM  

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