Monday, December 15, 2008

The humbug spirit?

What I'm reading: South of Hell, by PJ Parrish

What I'm working on: Edits.

At the risk of someone coming after me and confiscating my 'female' card, I will admit I'm not a shopping person. I enjoy it, within limits, when my daughters come to town (although I'm sure they no longer put "hit the mall with Mom" at the top of their to-do lists since I no longer hand over my credit card for their purchases). Shopping is enough of a trial, but the holiday season sends me straight to the computer. We may be in the midst of an economic crisis, the the malls are still crowded.

The other factor is the holiday sales help. Now, I'm glad that there are still jobs in retail, and that the stores feel confident enough to hire extra help. I'm sure the workers are also grateful for employment during these rougher times. So, I try to maintain my patience as I wait for clerks to figure out how to use the register, or how to handle discount coupons. I'm also enough of a Scrooge not to accept, "we don't do that" from one of these obvious newbies without speaking to someone who's worked there more than a week.

I had a coupon for a free iTunes card with any toner/ink purchase. She immediately said, "inks aren't included in special offers," and I had to show her the coupon that said, "good with any HP ink/toner purchase." Then she said, it was only for purchases over $75. I pointed out the cartridge went well over that figure. Guess she's not familiar with the stock yet.

And, I was buying a new backup battery supply system for my computer. I asked my IT guy hubby which one to get. He went on line, printed the page and handed it to me. I took it to the store, found the item. So far, so good. BUT, the price was higher in the store than on my printout. I showed the clerk, and she said, "We don't honor on-line prices." Since the catalog page clearly said, "available in store" and nothing about "Prices may vary," I asked to speak to the manager. When he finally appeared, he glanced at the ad and told the clerk, "we honor catalog prices." So, I saved my $6, the clerk learned something new, and all was well. Except for the extra 10 minutes I had to wait for the manager, and the extreme slowness of the clerk ringing up the sales. On the bright side, I already learned my lesson about how to use the iTunes card from the last one I had. Unlike the rest of the on-line shopping world, the iTunes store requries you load the card BEFORE you make your purchase.

This year, I had an actual specific request for a gift from my daughter-in-law. I checked on line, and I could have sent her a gift card to the store, but I took a moment to see if there actually was one in her town. Nope. Closest would be over an hour away. Didn't seem fair to make her drive, or pay shipping if she used the card on line, so I went to our nearest mall, which handily housed one of those stores.

I got to the mall shortly before it opened, and found a convenient parking spot. So far, so good. Inside, I passed a humongous Christmas tree, and lines already snaking around the center display for pictures with Santa. The music, as always in that mall, drowned out all but the underlying cacophony of voices raised to be heard over the music.

I found the store, asked a sales clerk where the item I needed was. He took me there, and I ALMOST said 'thanks, that'll be all.' Almost. Especially since this store sells audio gizmos and they were also on to demonstrate their capabilities. But were they playing the same things? No, of course not.

I browsed for a bit, wondering if I could find something for my son who has everything as long as I was going to have to ship a box. Or for hubby, although we're not really exchanging gifts this year since South Africa last year was a multi-year, multi-occasion gift.

I broke down and bought one gadget for the 'household' although I'm sure I'll be the one to use it. Resisted the 'today only, reduced price on this, that, or whatever with purchase' sales pitches.

Had a $10 off coupon for Victoria's Secret, so I wandered down that way. More noise. Why would someone want to spend more than $100 a cashmere nightgown? Or nearly #300 for the matching robe? Trouble with Vicky's place is that I can't leave 'would hubby like this' out of the mix. So, I think I'll give HIM the $10 gift card and if he sees anything, he can buy it. After all, even though I wear it, it'll be a gift for him.

In the 45 minutes I was inside, the parking lot filled considerably. I'm glad my car is orange.

Round trip, portal to portal, under an hour. Out past the humongous Christmas tree again. The looks of awe and excitment in the kids' faces as they walked by, almost tipping over backward as they tried to see the top, did melt a bit of the Grinch in my heart.


Dara said...

Thanks for the laugh! I think I've had that same clerk at multiple stores;-) I love to shop and even more to shop with my mother (who occasionally still hands me her credit card for my purchases since I push her around in a wheelchair these days). It's best when you get in and out early - I do the same thing.

Terry Odell said...

Hi, Dara -- I will say, once in a while it works out. I remember being a customer at Waldenbooks at the Florida Mall shortly after arriving in Orlando, and dealing with an obviously new and nervous salesperson. Over the years, I watched as she stayed on and rose through the ranks.

My parents are prone to paying when we go out, but at this point, I think our kids make more money than we do, so aside for treating them to meals when we visit, they can well afford their own mall purchases.

Jess said...

*most* of your kids make more money than you. ;) I went into all of 1 store to go holiday shopping this year, but have hence made 3 international customer service calls (with one more on the way) to solve the catastrophic failure of trying to order you a Hanukkah present!