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    Suburban Diary

    Online shopping inspires the gift of gab


    DUBLIN — Not long after my final online Christmas purchase had been acknowledged and dispatched, the review requests started to arrive. From the marketing folks at Kohl’s, Target, and Eason’s here in Ireland.

    Would I care to rate my recent transaction, these terse e-mails asked, so that I might be better served in the future? (Of course, we all know the real objective of such requests: to compile a database of our consumer habits for distribution to other retailers.)

    Each time, I respectfully declined, or simply ignored these impersonal appeals. Now that the hectic holiday shopping season is over, though, I’m having second thoughts. Here I’d like to offer my two cents’ worth to a few of the big online retailers on both sides of the pond.


    Dear Online Retailer: To say I was waiting excitedly for my shipment to arrive would be a serious understatement. Each day leading up to delivery, I nearly shrieked in anticipation every time a UPS truck rolled to a stop in front of our house. I realize bath towels shouldn’t have this effect on a grown man. But this is no ordinary towel. This is the new super-soft, mega-absorbent Moisture Buster 3000, which, thankfully, you brought to my attention in your countless holiday e-mails.

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    Allow me to illustrate why this towel is different. I recently made the mistake of stepping out of the shower without first shaking my hair dry. Not to worry: The Moisture Buster was on duty and the revolutionary micro-cotton blend sopped up the excess wetness with ease. The rate of absorption, frankly, left me speechless for several minutes. My wife had to bust into the bathroom to make sure I hadn’t expired in the tub.

    To anyone thinking of purchasing this item, all I can say is: Do not wash again until you have a Moisture Buster 3000 on hand to pat yourself dry!

    Dear Online Retailer: I’ve been wearing the same brand of sneakers for the last 20 years — you can ask my wife — and they’ve done me just fine. So it took a lot of convincing — what was it, five e-mails a day you sent, starting on Black Friday? — to get me to buy your new Bronko Nagurski high tops. I realize now why those old-time football players always look so tired and slow in newsreel footage. They were playing with lead weights on their feet!

    I’ve pulled both hamstrings trying to put these clunkers on and when I do manage to lace them up and head out, I’m breathless after five minutes of walking in them.


    In their defense, on two separate occasions while wearing them I’ve dropped a power sander and, ironically, a bronze statuette of Bronko Nagurski on my feet and felt nothing.

    Your heart was in the right place with these sneakers. Unfortunately, they’re designed for your feet.

    Dear Online Retailer: The arrival of a simple household appliance into one’s home shouldn’t occasion fear and dread, but the Dirt Bag 500 vacuum cleaner promoted so vigorously in your pre-Christmas e-mail blast has done just that. I should have realized trouble was brewing when I saw the FedEx guy drop the box at our front door and run.

    Since the day I first pushed the Dirt Bag across our living room carpet, sparks have flown. (Thank you, incidentally, for suggesting a supplementary purchase of the Flame Quencher 9000 fire extinguisher.)

    I only have to haul this wretched device from the closet and the cat begins to wail like a banshee, which then frightens the children and subsequently gets the wife on my case for buying this piece of junk in the first place.


    I have invited the neighbors and their sledgehammers to a ritual demolition of your product on the weekend. I will be sure to send photos for any future promotions you might be contemplating.

    Medford native Steve Coronella has lived in Ireland since 1992. He is the author of “This Thought’s on Me: A Boston Guy Reflects on Leaving the Hub, Becoming a Dub & Other Topics.” He can be reached at