Tuesday, November 10, 2009

DP Nov 5: All-in-one

The original HERE.

Dear Prudence,

Although I might be better off writing to Randy Cohen at the NY Times, I figured I'd have a better chance of getting an answer from you. From the number of obviously made-up letters, I can tell you aren't getting that many real ones…

I thought of Randy Cohen first because this is sort of an ethical question. I run a custom design shop for electronics and other goods. Typically an inventor seeking investors will have me put together a prototype based on a design concept they've come up with. But lately I've had a few unusual requests, and I'd like your opinion on them.

The first request was for a "personal massage device". The target market seems to be adolescent girls, because the client is asking for a "My Pretty Pony" model. I'm not sure if that means it's supposed to have a silky tail attached to the end, or maybe something else, but it gives me the willies, for sure. The client has explained that there is a market for "personal massage devices" that look like something else, aimed at teenage girls who are embarrassed about having such things where their parents might find them. Prudie: since when is massage a taboo subject?

The second request comes from a woman who wants me to create an invisible femidom. Why in the world would a woman need such a thing? I would think any woman would be happy for her partner to know she was using such a reliable form of birth control. I did see this episode of Nip/Tuck where Julia was collecting semen to use in her cosmetics line. Prudie: do you think this is that sort of deal? And if so, should I be getting a cut?

The third request comes from a different teenage girl. She's asked me to produce a 1/8-scale version of a traditional bear trap. I'm a little worried, because in the package she sent me, she included a life-size baby boy doll to test the device on. Prudie: who collects life-size baby dolls? That's just too weird for words.

The fourth comes from a client who wants me to devise an invention to automatically lower the toilet seat. That's not really hard to do, but she wants me to incorporate a pair of socks as the elastic band for the device. I'd be happy to do so, but do you think this is hygienic?

These jobs are all a bit of a pain, and my aim is to save time and trouble by combining them into one. I'm going to come up with a toilet seat weight in the form of a personal massage device shaped like a pony's you-know-what, that is hooked onto the toilet seat by a sock that has a plastic lining suitable for use as a discreet femidom. My question to you, Prudie, is: can I charge each client full price, or do I have to give them a discount?


Not your prototypical prototyper


Kati said...

Charge them lots and lots of money but be sure to first patent this incredible invention!

Aunt Messy said...

Time to introduce the concept of the "idiot fee". Every time someone makes an unreasonable or outright silly request, the fee goes up 30%.

You need not worry that you will lose customers this way. People seem to ADORE being abused. I know a hair stylist who charges $65.00 for her appointments (men and women, btw) but doubles that for walk-in clients or people who just HAVE to come in after hours. Some of these idiots have been going to her for 15 years or so and paying double every time.

Seoul Sister said...

I LOVE your letter! Right on the money for so many reasons. And I'm kind of scared to think of how effective your prototype would be... :)