Thursday, February 25, 2010

Why Do We Move Out Couches but Leave Refrigerators?

(... at least in most apartments.)

Couches and refrigerators are both bulky and hard to fit through doorways. Both are pretty essential pieces for an apartment. Yet we almost always will take the couch with us and leave behind the refrigerator.

Both items are available in wide varieties. Yet the differences among refrigerators are not as important to most people as are the differences among couches.

For one tenant, a pink Hello Kitty love seat fits the bill perfectly, but the next will crave a three-seat brown leather chesterfield. Couches differ on so many margins--color, size, material, cost, sentimental value, subjective comfyness, subjective appearance, presence or lack of cup holders or recliners--that it's worth our while to lug them in and out every time we move.

While some refrigerators have extra features, most people don't mind the standard model (of course, I'm referring to the refrigerator-freezer unit here). Refrigerators either do the job, or they don't: as long as the food is refrigerated (or frozen), most people are happy. Refrigerators vary in external styles and colors, but the apartment owner has likely already picked out one that matches the rest of the kitchen. If the refrigerator doesn't make ice cubes, you can buy an ice cube tray. Refrigerators vary in energy usage, but as a renter, you're not going to buy a separate low-energy refrigerator, unplug the one that came with the apartment, and store it elsewhere; you almost certainly aren't going to choose one apartment over another based on refrigerator efficiency.

One margin that is important to many people is size. It makes sense for the people who want more room to buy mini-fridges or mini-freezers to supplement the standard model. These things are easy to move out to the next place, and thus they save everyone a lot of grief by allowing refrigerators to come standard.

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