Held Hostage for Headphones, Swedish Style

Destroyed HeadphonesJust like Apple, I think cords suck. Long before the Lords of Cupertino decided to remove the headphone jack from the newest iPhone,  I determined that the best way not to tangle with cords when I run was with Bluetooth headphones. Being a diligent market researcher I polled the Web for rankings of various wireless headphones for runners. The rankings led me to the Swedish company Urbanears and their Hellas model. Easy enough to order online, and within a week or so my shiny blue ‘phones had arrived, were synced up with the iPhone and I was able to run cord-free. Heaven!

A few months later I noticed that one of the ear cushions for the Hellas was missing. Since we were busy packing up  before the interim move, the house looked like a tornado had hit, and I could not find the ear cushion in all the debris. I’ve lost or worn out ear cushions with previous headphones, and can usually replace them with a quick order for new cushions on Amazon Prime.  Total cost, about $5. But with Urbanears, I couldn’t find the right cushion on Amazon, so I emailed the manufacturer directly. Following is the slightly edited transcript of the subsequent multiple email communications.

Me: Dear Urbanears: I have lost one of the ear cushion from my recently purchased headphones and would like to buy a replacement. Can you tell me how to do order a set?

Urbanears: Dear Sir: We regret to inform you we do not sell the ear cushions individually. However, you may be eligible for a warranty replacement of the headphones. Please send us documentation of your purchase.

Me: Dear Urbanears: Attached please find a copy of my purchase order. I really just want a new cushion.

Urbanears: Dear sir: We are pleased to inform you that based on your purchase order you are eligible for a warranty replacement of your headphones. Please send us a picture of your headphones demonstrating the problem.

Me: Dear Urbanears: Please see the attached picture of my headphones. The red arrow points out the fact that I really did lose a cushion. Wouldn’t it be easier just to send me a couple of new ones?

Urbanears: Dear Sir: Thank you for the photograph. We agree that you are missing a cushion. We are pleased to tell you that you have met all our requirements and sent us all the evidence to enable us to send you replacement headphones. In order to expedite this please do the following. Grasp your headphones, bend at the right hinge and snap off the entire earpiece. Then please cut all wires leading to the earpiece and cut them. Send us a photograph that also includes the date of destruction.

Me: Dear Urbanears: Attached is the photo you requested (see above.) It broke my heart to assassinate a perfectly good set of headphones when all I really needed was a cushion, but I guess you have your Swedish socialist business model instead of our capitalist one. Long live the EU!

Urbanears: Dear Sir: Thank you for the photograph. Your new headphones are on their way to you. It is a pleasure doing business with you and we hope to keep you as a valued customer.

Two days later I received the new headphones. My only problem now is getting the iPhone Bluetooth to sync with them. And oh yeah, I found the missing cushion in my gym bag…

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