BY RICHARD BOETTGER

My wife and I are not alone in being burglarized while we slept in our bed. As previously reported, last month someone came into our home three times, stealing more each time, somehow getting through locked doors and windows the last time. The bigger story of a string of similar crimes is reported elsewhere in this paper. But what I’ve learned from trying to repair our personal experience is, I think, instructive to everyone.

 

 

We bought a pick-proof deadbolt lock and a new iPad to replace the one that was stolen. In both cases, I paid a bit more to buy locally. And in both cases, buying locally saved the day. On the other hand, I know of a case winding its way through Monroe courts of an internet shopper whose expensive purchase was ruined by his web-based merchant, and they have done everything they can to screw him out of thousands of dollars.

 

A reader’s response to my previous column linked me to a persuasive demonstration of how easy it is to pick normal locks. You have to go to a locksmith to get the expensive, unpickable kind. So I went out to Sturtz on Flagler for our $190 Primus deadbolt lock, and put glue in the other four deadbolts’ exterior keyholes. Only one way in now, and that double-tumbler lock simply can’t be picked.

 

The problem was, when I installed it, the key would go in, but I couldn’t get it out! I brought it back to Sturtz, and in an hour they had fixed a tiny miscalibration in the assembly as it had been sent from the manufacturer. Had I bought the lock online, it would have taken days of insecurity. My local fixed it on the spot.

 

The same with my iPad. After a week with my new Air, it suddenly went dead. Kaput. If I’d bought it through Amazon, I’d have sent it back, along with its Chillbox speakers and Bluetooth keypad, and tried another brand. I might not have gotten it in time for our sailing vacation, where my tablet holds all my reading material and music, as well as my email connection to everyone including KONK Life.

 

Instead, I brought it back to my local, Small Dog Electronics on Truman. No problem. They replaced it on the spot, even uploading all the apps I’d bought for the dead soldier. While there, I noticed how much of their time is spent trying to help customers with problems, often with Apple-related phone plans they didn’t even sell them. Buying from smart, flesh-and-blood people you can bike to in person is a vastly different experience than mailing something away and talking to a voice in India about it.

 

Which is what happened to a buddy of mine, whose case I’ll disguise because it is still in litigation. He bought an expensive piece of electronics, and when part A malfunctioned, he mailed it back for repairs under warranty. While fixing A, they fried part B, which was much more costly. Then they simply refused to fix part B, while admitting in print in their emails that, yes, they fried it.

 

My buddy’s only recourse was to sue them. Do you have any idea how difficult this is? The international corporation is used to it, and tries to say that the local courts have no jurisdiction, because they don’t have a store here in Monroe. This defense is pure BS under Florida law, but that does not stop them from hiring a local big-shot attorney to try to bully our local courts with nonsensical defenses and delays. It takes months, and what would be thousands of dollars in attorneys’ fees unless you do it pro se, being your own lawyer.

 

Our Monroe courts stood up to the national mortgage banks when they tried to set up a kangaroo court system down here to railroad through their robo-signed foreclosure cases last year. We have to hope they defend, not just my friend, but all of us who sometimes have to shop online for things we can’t find here. As bad as it is to have to go to court, far worse would it be not to have a court that can stand up to the multinationals with their slick legal teams.

 

Ugh. Better to buy local, and have a friendly face help you on the spot.