Editor’s note: Michael Ackley’s columns may include satire and parody based on current events, and thus mix fact with fiction. He assumes informed readers will be able to tell the difference.

Dialogs for the Age of Obama:

Consumer: You told me these compact fluorescent light bulbs would last thousands of hours. You said, “If you buy a compact fluorescent, you can keep a compact fluorescent.” But I had to replace this one after less than a year.

Salesman: Well, did you turn it on and leave it on?

Consumer: No, I turned it on at night, and turned it off when I went to bed.

Salesman: Well, if you had read the 15 pages of instructions we put on our website after the compacts came out, you’d have known these bulbs last nearly forever, but not if you turn them on and off.

Consumer: Oh. OK.


Car buyer: Well, here I am for my car’s free, 20,000-mile maintenance.

Service manager: Very well. That will be $300, please.

Car buyer: What? I bought the extended warranty. It says, “If you buy the extended warranty, you can keep it” – for 100,000 miles. I’ve only gone 20,000 miles.

Service manager: Did you only drive downhill?

Car buyer: Of course not. I drove downhill to work and uphill to go home. You can’t drive just downhill.

Service manager: I’m sorry, but the new service manual we wrote after you bought the extended warranty changed the terms. You can have the free service, if you only drive downhill. But don’t worry. The maintenance we now provide is costly, but it’s better than the free service.

Car buyer: Oh. OK.


Customer: I’d like to return this broken toaster. The guarantee says you’ll replace it.

Exchange clerk: Certainly. But let’s have a look at it. (He examines the toaster with a magnifying glass.) Excuse me, but this object in the bottom appears to be a raisin.

Customer: It is. I love raisin bread toast!

Exchange clerk: I’m sorry, Sir. The guarantee is void. You’ll just have to buy our new toaster.

Customer: But your ad said, “If you like your toaster, we guarantee you can keep your toaster.”

Exchange clerk: That’s true, but the terms of the guarantee say we’ll replace it if you only toast whole wheat bread. My examination shows you not only toasted raisin bread, but English muffins as well. So your guarantee is void. However, we’re offering you a more expensive toaster that is much better. It will accept raisin bread – and bagels!

Customer: Oh. OK.


Customer: I bought my cell-phone plan here, and your ad said you’d match any other store’s advertised price and pay me 10 percent of the difference. Here’s the same plan advertised for 20 bucks less. Guess you own me $22.

Salesman: No dice. Our policy clearly says we would pay up if you didn’t add minutes. You did, so you’re out of luck.

Customer: How was I supposed to know that?

Salesman: It’s clearly stated in the 100 pages of rules posted by the door. If you had read them, you would have known.

Customer: But, shouldn’t you have just told me?

Salesman: Hey! Take a little responsibility. Anyway, we’d be happy to sell you an even better plan, for only 50 percent more.

Customer: Oh. OK.


Customer: Say, you said this air-conditioning unit would keep me cool in the summer and warm in the winter. It doesn’t, so I want my money back.

Salesman: I’m sorry. The week after you bought that unit, we placed an ad in the newspaper, saying the guarantee only applied if you lived in San Diego.

Customer: But, how was I to know you placed that ad?

Salesman: It’s your duty to be informed. Don’t worry. You can buy a very comfortable place in San Diego, for just twice what your current house is worth.

Customer: Oh. OK.


Citizen: You said, “If you like your health insurance plan, you can keep it,” but now I find that isn’t true.

Bureaucrat: Did you read the 2,700 pages of the health-care bill?

Citizen: No.

Bureaucrat: Did you read the 15,000 pages of regulations we’ve promulgated since that bill passed?

Citizen: No.

Bureaucrat: Well, those regulations say you can’t keep your plan if any changes were made to it after the bill became law. It was right there in black and white. All you had to do was read the rules. But don’t worry. You’ll be much better off with the more expensive but higher quality health policy you can buy through the exchanges. For example, you’ll be guaranteed prenatal care.

Citizen: I’m 75 years old!

Bureaucrat: Accidents can happen! But don’t worry; your new policy will provide contraceptive services.

Citizen: I’m a Roman Catholic!

Bureaucrat: That’s a pre-existing condition. You won’t have to worry about that, either.

Citizen: This is going to give me a heart attack!

Bureaucrat: Then your worries are almost over. Rationed health care for the aged means you’ll die soon, and you can be happy in the knowledge you’re saving the government money.

Citizen: If this is how it’s going to be, dying would suit me fine.

Bureaucrat: Next!



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