By now a lot of people have taken advantage of the government’s Eco-point system, which proffers yen-value points when you purchase goods that have been deemed energy-saving in some shape or form. These points can be redeemed for putatively eco-friendly goods and services. We’ve already noted that the system seems to be designed to stimulate the economy rather than save the environment, but since the economy really does need stimulating I probably shouldn’t be complaining.
But others certainly are complaining, not so much because the Eco-point system is hypocritical about energy-saving (it is, but more on that later), but rather because it’s such a royal pain in the neck. The Web is full of detailed grousing about the paperwork necessary for redeeming one’s points. Some people have found it so complicated that they’ve actually given up — and these are Japanese. Since any explanations in English on how to redeem points are cursory at best (the bureaucracies in charge of the system don’t provide English instructions themselves), many non-Japanese are effectively shut out of the deal.
Several weeks ago we bought a new television at a discount store. The purchase earned us 12,000 Eco-points. When you buy an item that qualifies, the saleperson gives you a spiel about what to do. If consumers aren’t prepared for the spiel — and I doubt that many are — much of it will go over their heads. The salesman gives you several forms, including an application that he himself will partially fill out and a checklist that will help you go through the steps for filling out the application. He will tell you that you must fill out the warranty card that comes with your purchase. Most people never bother doing that until they have a problem with their purchase and need to get it fixed. But to redeem your Eco-points you have to fill in all the information on your warranty card, make a photocopy of it, and attach the photocopy to your application.