Bundling Culture

The Puritans brought bundling to the American colonies, we’re told.  That was, of course, the historical courting ritual of betrothed couples – there was no such thing as dating.  Couples were attracted, betrothed, then dated, so to speak.

Part of courting in colonial America included, for some, the practice of spending evenings and overnight visits, clothed (uh huh) in the same bed so as to stay warm, as the betrothed tarried (bundled) together to keep company.  Sometimes, a board was placed between the couple; and often parents stayed in the same room.  It was a getting to know you ritual – quite controversial as one might expect.

Today, the practice of bundling has an entirely different context and most contemporaries have no idea of the historical meaning of the word.  But the new connotation of the word has no less controversy.  Or, does everybody love it?

I am an a la carte gal myself.  I prefer to select, on its own merits, exactly and precisely what I want in a product or service.  With bundles, you get some of what you want and a few doodles of what you will never use or could care less about.

Even with food, which is what I first think of when a la carte comes to mind, I usually go to the a la carte menu and ignore the “meals.”  Even back in the day when I ate fast food occasionally, I never got “the meal,” because I don’t drink soda.  My frugal mentors taught me that “they always get you with the drink.”

Bundling is designed to expand profit for the seller, but the crux of it for the buyer – which is what irks me, is we are made to feel we benefit (convenience being purportedly, the main perk) from bundling with “them.”  I usually have an underlying feeling of being “taken,” or ripped off when salespeople try to force me into bundling.

The other day, in my umpteenth conversation about various bundles with the third internet, phone, and television provider, I told the persistent customer service rep that I was happy with my television but wanted to discuss just internet and phone service.  She insisted on pressing it further and I said I really preferred to have separate bills.  She couldn’t believe my archaic attitude and said,”it’s the same amount with the bundle as with the separate bills.”  I said, “precisely.”

Again, we ended in a standstill and we remain semi-bundled.

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