Rants


Today I had a message in my email InBox telling me that I had a new bill waiting for me from AT&T.
Long Distance Bill
This particular bill was for my home telephone and DSL service. When I first got DSL, it was $15 a month. My home phone and DSL bill was around $30, and I was happy with that. Over the past couple of years, my bill has slowly crept up in price. The DSL price was an introductory price… A year or so after that went away, they decided to raise the price of DSL again.. So, my bill has been getting more and more expensive.

Today’s bill was for $44.xx. I thought that seemed annoying, so I went to their website to check it out. I noticed that last month’s bill was for $42.xx, and I decided to investigate.

It turns out that the difference was the long distance bill. I use my cell phone to make my calls. I don’t see any reason to do anything else. EXCEPT, in one very special case: When I need to send a fax. I was checking out a prospective tenant last month, and the previous landlord’s needed a fax of the authorization sheet. So, I had to send it to them. I ended up sending 3 different faxes for this. Each one was 1 minute long, and I was billed 12 cents for each minute. 36 cents, right?

WRONG!!!

My long distance bill was $2.34. The extra $1.98 was for fees and taxes. Let’s get one thing straight. I’m all for giving people what they need to survive. I understand infrastructure costs and all that jazz. But, when I spend 3 minutes on the phone at an advertised cost of 12 cents a minute, it annoys me to see a bill of $2.34.

When we look at the bill in more detail, we can quickly see that the majority of the cost is for AT&T’s Carrier Cost Recovery Fee, which is $1.49. Seriously, AT&T? Did my 3 one minute phone calls really cause you to need to recover $1.49 in carrier costs?

Anyway, if you’ve ever had issues with this sort of corporate capitalism, feel free to post below. I feel slightly better now, but I’m still $2.34 poorer for 3 tiny phone calls.

After what many would say was “too long”, the Qdoba matter is finally resolved. Read the whole story at

Problems With The Local Qdoba

I just sent this email to Qdoba corporate. We’ll see how things end up.

Hello,

I am writing to complain about a Qdoba restaurant visit earlier today.

On January 25, we purchased 4 $25 Qdoba gift certificates from this website:

http://wcia.frugal-fridays.com/index.php?index_type=promo-detail&pid=31017

You can see in the right column that it says that the denomination is $25. I’m not sure when the red text at the top was added that says you get five $10 certificates. In January, it said 2 $25 gift certificates per “deal”. We purchased two deals, therefore we got 4 $25 gift certificates.

A week or so back (on March 8th) we went to Qdoba for the first time to eat. You can see on that webpage that each certificate can be used for multiple visits. The way this normally works with these certificates is that the person at the store makes a note on the back of how much foot was purchased, and how much is remaining on the certificate.

We were told in the store that we couldn’t use the certificate for multiple visits. We explained that it said very clearly on the website that the certificates could be used for multiple visits. The manager went in the back, and called a higher up manager and came back out front and said that they were wrong, we could use it, there was some confusion, but everything was OK, and the manager made a note on the back of the certificate about the price of the food, and everything was OK.

We were a bit annoyed that we were being told that we were wrong when we knew we were right, but we were satisfied at the outcome.

Today we had a decidedly different experience when we visited about 1pm. We didn’t expect any difficulty regarding the gift certificate, but the manager on duty today absolutely refused to believe us and would not let us use a portion of the gift certificate. She told us we were wrong and that the certificates could only be used twice, which makes no sense and isn’t mentioned anywhere.

I had thought that the customer was always right, but at this store we were definitely told we were wrong, even though the above URL clearly shows that we were, in fact, right.

Since we had no desire to waste close to $20 in remaining gift certificate on a single burrito, we left the store and decided to approach this more rationally by getting the web page proof, since our word was clearly not good enough.

So, we are now stuck with about $94 in gift certificates and a store that has apparently decided to change its policy from what was stated on the webpage where we bought our gift certificates.

Please advise on how I can best get this resolved. I don’t feel like I can make any progress with the managers at the store, and I’d hate to have to get a lawyer involved over this.

When we left today, the manager was saying that she’d get in trouble if she let us use a portion of the gift certificate. Oh well… their loss. They had already made our burrito and we were checking out when we decided to just leave and eat somewhere else.

On an unrelated note, I’d recommend the Pad Thai at Basil Thai on Green Street.


March 24th, 2008 at 1:27 pm

This morning, March 24, I got a voice mail from Qdoba corporate.

It was Guest relations, and they wanted me to call them back. At 2:17 this afternoon, I called them back. I gave them my report number and they escalated the call to a different person, Emily, who I talked with for several minutes.

Her computer was running slow, and I told her the story. We agreed that this probably wasn’t a “corporate” thing, but she decided to call the franchise operator and verify with them the situation, and she said that she’d be getting back with me later this afternoon or tomorrow about this situation. We’ll see what ends up happening.


March 25th, 2008 at 3:39 pm

Next day, 4:35pm. Got a call back from Emily. She has been in contact with the franchise operator here in Champaign, and the franchise operator doesn’t have any awareness of this promotion at all. So, she is still working with them to figure out what is going on. She said that the franchise operator was OK with accepting the coupons once the franchise operator figures out what is going on, but they are still trying to figure that part out.

This is, by the way, for the Qdoba on Green Street here in Champaign.

She said that she just wanted to call me and let me know what the current status is, and she’ll get back with me as soon as she finds out more information.


March 27th, 2008 at 3:51 pm

Two days later, 4:10pm. Got a call back from Emily. She said that the franchise operators didn’t want the employees to have to keep track of the running totals on the back of the certificates. I didn’t decide to press this issue.

She asked me if I was a member of the Qdoba loyalty club. I said no. She said she could sign me up. She said that they would credit my loyalty card with an amount equivalent to the credit that I had left, which, if it was around $94 would amount to about 17 entrees.

She said that she could send me an “empty” card, and when I give proof of the gift certificates, that they would then “load” the loyalty card. We determined that she could mail me the loyalty card via snail mail, and I could mail her the certificates via snail mail, and all would be good.

I asked for more details on the loyalty card. She said that it was a card for frequent visitors and after they purchase/etc a certain amount, their card is credited with something, like an entree. So, she was proposing to credit my loyalty card with 17 entrees. I asked her if I could just get one of the credit-card style gift certificates instead. I might, as I told her, want to just run in there sometime and get a beverage or something. The loyalty card would be useless for that.

She said that she didn’t think a gift card could be loaded with that much money, and I asked her about multiple cards. She said she’d have to check. So, she put me on hold, and came back a little later saying that she’d gotten the voice mail of who she was looking for.

We exchanged email addresses so that we could send each other snail mail addresses.. The contents of my email:

———–
Emily,

My US mail address is:

Kirby Vandivort
etc.

I don’t have the exact amount that I used from the one cert handy, but
I’ll let you know as soon as I get that information.

As we discussed on the phone, the “credit card style” gift
certificates would be a fine substitution for the paper certificates
that we had before. Thanks for your time and efforts in helping me
get this resolved. It was disturbing for us to be told we were wrong
by the workers there, and, frankly, I’m still not happy about that,
but I’ve been quite pleased with how you have represented “corporate”
.
————-

So, the saga continues. Isn’t life fun!?


March 28th, 2008 at 3:23 pm

Next day, early afternoon. Got a voice mail from Emily. I called her back at the Qdoba customer satisfaction number. Got “Exavier” and told him I wanted to talk to Emily about a specific case number. He said rapidly, “Oh ok. Let me put you in the Senior Queue”. A few seconds later, Mariam answered. She said she worked with Emily and could help me out. Put me on hold for a minute or so and came back on the line and said that Emily had a note in the file that she wanted to talk to me directly.

So, when Emily finished helping another customer, she got on the phone with me. Said that her colleagues said that they could preload a gift certificate with the amount, but that they need the gift certs before they will send out the preloaded card. So, she said she’d email me with the address to mail things to. We ended up finishing our phone call and a few minutes later I got the following email:

———
Dear Kirby,

Thank you for contacting us regarding your recent visit to Qdoba Mexican
Grill. Again, I apologize for any inconvenience you experienced, and can
assure you we are following up with appropriate management.

The mailing address for Qdoba Mexican Grill is:

I will call you once I receive the certificates just to let you know they
have arrived, and we will have the gift card sent out, also via certified
mail, that same day. I appreciate your continued patience and your
flexibility in resolving this matter. If you have any further questions or
concerns, please feel free to contact us.

Sincerely,

Emily
Senior Guest Specialist
Qdoba Mexican Grill
———

So.. here’s the rub: Last week, when this whole thing started, I thought it a good idea to have a scanned copy of the partially used gift certificate. This cert seems to have been left in the scanner and taken by someone else.

So, it looks like I’m only going to have $75 in gift certs to mail them, and it completely destroys the testimony that I’ve given so far, etc etc.

But, my plan is to tell her in the mail exactly what happened and explain that the cert wouldn’t even have been scanned in the first place if this whole thing hadn’t happened. In addition, I can include (hopefully) the receipt from the original purchase, if that is still lying around. Stay tuned. We aren’t in the clear yet!


April 1st, 2008 at 9:23 pm

After a delay, we found the other certificate! So, I have all of the gift certs. I’ve written a letter and I’ll be mailing the certs to Emily tomorrow morning. PDFs and pictures will be posted regarding this as soon as I get a chance.


April 2nd, 2008 at 12:42 pm

This is the letter that I sent to Emily. The letter went out certified mail earlier today.

==============================
April 1, 2008

Qdoba Mexican Grill Guest Relations
Attn: Emily Hoch

Re: Qdoba Gift Certificate issue.

Emily:

As we had discussed on the phone, I am enclosing the four gift certificates from the Frugal Friday promotion that the Qdoba on Green Street in Champaign, IL was affiliated with. Three of the $25 gift certificates haven’t been used at all, and the fourth one (as can be seen from the back of it) has $18.71 remaining after a single purchase on March 8th.

This really has been a big hassle for me. On March 8 when the manager on duty had to call another manager for confirmation it was unsettling, but on the March 20 visit, it was downright offensive for my date and myself to be told that we were wrong and that we didn’t know what we were talking about. I can fully understand that a business might decide to change terms to simplify bookkeeping for future promotions, but I find it incomprehensible that they think that they can retroactively change the terms of promotions. I am hopeful that procedures are being put into place to prevent things of this nature from happening to other unsuspecting guests of your restaurant.

While you have been extremely helpful and courteous, it has been really disheartening to have spent so much time jumping through hoops just so I can use the gift certificates that I purchased with the full expectation that I wouldn’t have to spend additional hours just to be able to redeem them under the terms that they were offered. In fact, I thought that I was getting a pretty good deal with the Frugal Friday promotion, but when I add in the value of my time, the postage, and the mental anguish, I think I might have been better off just paying the normal rate for each restaurant visit.

Based on the business relationship that we’ve built, I fully trust and expect that you will send me back a gift card with an appropriate balance. In the event that this letter somehow gets lost on the mail I have made copies of the gift certificates and scanned them into the computer to be added to my blog page at:

http://blog.omnux.com/index.php/2008/03/20/problems-with-the-local-qdoba/

Thank you for your time and effort in helping get this issue resolved.

Kirby Vandivort
==============================


April 2nd, 2008 at 10:00 pm

Pictures of the gift certificates, ready to be mailed.


April 3rd, 2008 at 9:39 am

Track the package as it heads to San Diego!

USPS Tracking


April 4th, 2008 at 7:07 am

Is it odd that I scanned in and uploaded the tracking receipt so that everyone out there in internet land could look at it?

USPS Certified Mail Receipt


April 4th, 2008 at 6:50 pm

Package delivered, this morning at 10:28 am.


April 8th, 2008 at 3:51 pm

No update as of this afternoon. Emily said that she’d contact me the day that she got the letter and the gift cards would be mailed out that same day. Nothing yet. I’ll send an email tomorrow morning.

In other news, the blog is starting to get websearch hits.

A few of the things that people are searching for on Google to find this blog:

Qdoba how much does a manager makes
qdoba problems
qdoba corporate profits

Hopefully this will get resolved soon.


April 9th, 2008 at 9:38 am

Just sent the following email:

——–
Emily,

I hope that things are going well for you. From the US post office website, the certified letter that I sent you with the gift certificates arrived last Friday am, and I hadn’t heard anything from you, so I thought that I would check up on things and see what’s going on.

Thanks for your help,

Kirby
————


April 10th, 2008 at 10:50 am

Update from Emily. She called a couple of minutes ago.

Said she had gotten my email and that they had received the certificates. She said that she was waiting for confirmation from the qcard rep to make sure that the card had been loaded with the proper balance.

She said that it might be as late as next Tuesday before they get the confirmation and she’ll let me know when she’s sending it out, as well as give me the certified mail tracking number when that happens.

Other than this minor delay in getting back with me since last Friday, I’ve been quite pleased with how Emily has handled this situation, and, to be honest, because of how she’d done up until that point, I really wasn’t worried about how things would proceed.

Looks like this will hopefully be taken care of within the next week or so.


April 16th, 2008 at 9:41 am

Yes, friends. It is Wednesday, and I haven’t heard back from Emily. Rather disappointing.

Just to keep everyone informed.. After I mentioned that random websearchers had been finding this blog from doing searches, a couple of you apparently decided to have to some fun (you know who you are). So, to give you props, here are a few more searches that showed up. Not all of these appear to be from blog readers. A mix of that as well as random web searches.

qdoba – (Multiple times. Actually a search via the pictures)
Guys named Kirby who have problems with Qdoba – again, from pics
Qdoba certificates – from pics
problems with local qdoba
how much does a Qdoba manager make

Kirby talks to Emily about his problem with Qdoba

I’ll get ahold of Emily later today.


April 16th, 2008 at 3:45 pm

Just sent this to Emily

———
Emily,

Tuesday has come and gone and I haven’t heard anything (maybe the email got lost!), so I’m just wanting to find out what is going on with the problem that I had with the local Qdoba in Champaign, IL.

I must admit, I’m a bit disheartened. I feel like we’ve had a nice, responsive transaction up until a couple of weeks ago. However, I haven’t had what I feel to be very good response time since then. This is unfortunate, because that change just happened to coincide with me sending my actual paper gift certificates to your location. Hopefully you can understand my concern: While I had the proof in hand, things were going well. Since I have, on good faith, mailed my paper gift certificates to you, things seem to have stalled, or at least haven’t been proceeding in any concrete way that I can discern. Though I’m confident this isn’t the case, my more paranoid side is wanting me to think that I shouldn’t ever have agreed to mail the paper copies in!

The most recent update that I have from you was on the morning of April 10th when you said that you were verifying that the money had been put on the “q card”, and that you would know something, at the latest, by yesterday. It seemed to me at the time that verifying an account balance on the qcard should be as simple as calling the 1-800 number on the back, but I assumed that the process that you were having to go through was more complicated than that, and I’m sure it has been.

If there are other delays, I can handle that, as long as I know what is going on. Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you.

————


April 17th, 2008 at 1:38 pm

Got a voice mail from Emily this morning at 10:12 am. She apologized for not getting back with me. Said that the card had been mailed out late Tuesday or early Wednesday, and that I should have it in a few days. Now, I can say that hopefully this will be over soon.


April 20th, 2008 at 10:47 pm

Resolution!!!!!!!

Snail Mail received on Saturday, April 19.

I won’t belabor things. $100 dollar gift certificate, and 3 coupons for a free burrito. The letter that was attached said that I had 4 coupons, but only three were in the envelope. And, there was a typo in the letter, but I guess I can’t complain too much.

Am I happy with the outcome? Well, I am. It cost me a lot of time, and, to be honest, the time spent probably wasn’t properly compensated. But, I have a gift card now that I won’t have to worry about using. It didn’t feel good to be treated like a common liar, and I shouldn’t need to worry about that with this.


So I just got this via email. I’m not saying that it will work, because, for whatever reason, stuff like this never does.. But it was amusing. I don’t buy from Exxon or Mobile anyway, so I’m automatically on board!

*ATTENTION:** THIS IS NOT THE ‘DON’T BUY’ GAS FOR ONE DAY APPROACH, BUT IT WILL SHOW YOU HOW WE CAN GET GAS BACK DOWN TO $1.30 PER GALLON. *

This was sent by a retired Coca Cola executive. It came from one of his engineer buddies who retired from Halliburton. If you are tired of the gas prices going up AND they will continue to rise this summer, take time to read this, please. *

Phillip Hollsworth offered this good idea. This makes MUCH MORE SENSE than the “don’t buy gas on a certain day” campaign that was going around last April or May! It’s worth your consideration. Join the resistance!!!!

I hear we are going to hit close to $4.00 PER gallon by next summer and it might go higher!! Want gasoline prices to come down?

We need to take some intelligent, united action. The oil companies just laughed at that because they knew we wouldn’t continue to “hurt” ourselves by refusing to buy gas.

It was more of an inconvenience to us than it was a problem for them. BUT,this is a **plan that can **really work**. Please read on and join with us!

By now you’re probably thinking gasoline priced at about $2.00 is super cheap. Me too! It is currently $3.19 for regular unleaded in my town.*

Now that the oil companies and the OPEC nations have conditioned us to think that the cost of a gallon of gas is CHEAP at $1.50 – $1.75, we need to take aggressive action to teach them that BUYERS control the marketplace..not sellers. **(OPEC announced this week that it would not increase production, thereby insuring that oil continues to sell for $104 per barrel and higher.)

With the price of gasoline going up more each day, we consumers need to take action.

The only way we are going to see the price of gas come down is if we hit someone in the pocketbook by not purchasing their gas! And, we can do that WITHOUT hurting ourselves.

How? Since we all rely on our cars, we can’t just stop buying gas.

But we CAN have an impact on gas prices if we all act together to force a price war.

Here’s the idea: For the rest of this year, DON’T purchase ANY gasoline from the two biggest companies (which now are one), **EXXON* *and **MOBIL.

If they are not selling any gas, they will be inclined to reduce their prices. If they reduce their prices, the other companies will have to follow suit. **(But, when they lower prices, you must resist rushing to their pumps in order to buy their gas. You have to avoid buying their gas completely, knowing that other service stations will follow suit in a matter of days. So hang on! Eventually prices WILL fall.)

To have an impact, we need to reach literally millions of Exxon and Mobil gas buyers. It’s really simple to do! Now, don’t bug out on me at this point…keep reading and I’ll explain how simple it is to reach millions of people!!

I am sending this note to 30 people. If each of us send it to at least ten more (30 x 10 = 300) … and those 300 send it to at least ten more (300 x **10 = 3,000)…** and so on, by the time the message reaches the sixth group of people, we will have reached over THREE MILLION consumers. If those three million get excited and pass this on to ten friends each, then 30 million people will have been contacted!

If it goes one level further, you guessed it….. THREE HUNDRED MILLION PEOPLE!!! (And that’s more than every gas buyer in the USA .)

Again, all you have to do is send this to 10 people. That’s all! Well, and, of course, stop buying gas from just one company.

How long would all that take? If each of us sends this e-mail out to ten more people within one day of receipt, all 300 MILLION people could conceivably be contacted within the next 8 days!!!

I’ll bet you didn’t think you and I had that much potential, did you! Acting together we can make a difference.

There is nothing wrong with corporations making a reasonable profit. But $40.6 billion in just 13 weeks is a little over the top, don’t you think? With millions of Americans losing their homes and with taxes going through the roof, we need some relief somewhere and there is no sign in sight that any politician will help us. So, this is up to us. Either hang together on this one or hang separately–one at a time.

If this makes sense to you, please pass this message on. I suggest that we not buy from EXXON/MOBIL UNTIL THEY LOWER THEIR PRICES TO THE $2.00 RANGE AND KEEP THEM DOWN. THIS CAN REALLY WORK.

Please Keep This Moving, and, Thank you!

In case you aren’t aware of craigslist, it’s a great place to find stuff that you might need.

And, if you have stuff that you want to get rid of, it’s a great place to post stuff.

If you are going to post, though, don’t be dumb about it. Use some common sense and follow the terms of usage when you do your posting. If you don’t follow the rules, you will likely find craigslist readers flagging your post as being wrong (in one way or another) and it will disappear on you.

To that end, here are a few things that I’ve noticed recently…

  • Post to the right craigslist. Craigslist communities exist for most medium to large towns. If you don’t know which one to post to, go to Google maps and plot the distance from where you are to where the possible craigslists are for. Find the closest one, and post to that craigslist. If you post in others, you’ll likely find yourself flagged for not posting in the right one.
  • Craigslist allows you to have a single running post for a given item. If you want to “bump” your item up on the listing page, delete the old posts for that item first. If you have 2 or 3 going at the same time, that’s a great way to get yourself flagged. Why should you be able to ignore the craigslist rules when everyone else tries to follow them? Oh, and changing the way the ad looks, but still advertising the same item just makes everyone think that you’re trying to be sneaky. Craigslist rules don’t say that you can advertise the same item as long as you change the presentation. They say you can’t advertise the same item multiple times. This also goes for the price. You can’t put up multiple ads for the same item with the price changed by a buck or two. Still the same item!
  • Oh, and even if you delete other postings for a given item, Craigslist still has rules that say you can’t post a single item more frequently than every 48 hours. If you try to post the same item every day, expect to get flagged.
  • Speaking of items.. Every post you do needs to actually be about an item! If you have a furniture store and want to write a post about a terrific new, one of a kind bed that you have, that’s great! Post it in the furniture section. Good luck, and hopefully you’ll find a buyer.

    However, if you decide to post a generic ad saying that you “sell furniture and would love to help people out” in the furniture section… Prepare to be flagged. Craigslist says that item posts need to be about an item. If you want to tell everyone that you sell furniture, put it in the Services section.

Good luck! Have fun using craigslist. Just follow the rules, and make it more enjoyable for those of us that use craigslist to find the stuff we need and want.

🙂

Many moons ago, I chose MCI as my long distance carrier of choice. I don’t even remember why. They had some deal going at the time where I paid 2 or 3 bucks a month and got long distance call for a couple of pennies a minute or something. Distant history, and not really important. When I got my cell phone with free long distance, I didn’t need to make calls from my home phone anymore, so I switched to a plan from MCI that didn’t cost any money per month, but the calls were more expensive per minute. No big deal, since I wasn’t making calls from the landline anyway.

At some point a few years back, the MCI computer system was screwed up and decided that it owed me a penny one month. I had autodebit going from my credit card, so a 1 penny credit showed up on my credit card. And, the same thing happened the next month. And the next. Here we are, 3 or 4 years later, and I’m maybe 30 or 40 cents richer. Needless to say, I haven’t made any long distance calls. I’m sure that if I had, the 1 penny thing would have sorted itself out.

Postcard from MCIYesterday, I received this postcard in the mail. Seems that MCI doesn’t feel rich enough. Effective on the first of next month, MCI is going to start charging a minimum $5.99 per month for the enjoyment of having their service. Plus all applicable taxes, fees, and surcharges.

I bounced over to MCI’s website to see if they had any sort of announcement for this. I didn’t find anything (imagine that!) So, I figured I should tell the world via my blog. Consider yourself told. While I was at MCI, I looked over their long distance plans to see if they had some special “no minimum monthly charge” plan. I didn’t find one. I did learn that the surcharges on most of the other plans amount to probably $10 a month. If that holds for my plan, that means that I’d be paying $16 a month for long distance on my landline, which I haven’t used in 3 years or so.

So long, MCI.

Good riddance, hasta la vista, bon voyage, and adios.

I’m now in the hunt for a new long distance company. Alternatively, some people in town apparently don’t have a long distance carrier at all. I might do that. I need to have long distance for the rare case where I might need to fax something from my fax machine. But, I can use a 10-10 number or something and come out far ahead of where MCI has dropped me off at.

Gotta love big business. I guess it makes sense that they wouldn’t care about me since I’m not making them any money. They won’t miss me.

Dick’s receipt
You might recall my previous post about Dick’s Shenanigans where they gave me grief about returning a Maglite which cost about $13. I had used a $10 gift certificate, but they didn’t want to credit me with that $10 upon return. The receipt looks approximately normal.

Today’s post is related, but different. Yes, Virginia, they’ve found another way to get my attention.

Last night I went to Borders and used a $10 gift certificate (thanks, Mike Moutray!) to buy a $10 book. Here’s my receipt. Everything looks normal.

Border’s Receipt When you look closely at the receipts, though, you will notice a difference. The Dick’s Maglight, worth $12.99, cost $0.24 cents in tax. The Borders’ book, worth $9.99, cost $0.77 in tax. Dick’s based the tax on the post-gift certificate price. Borders based the tax on the pre-gift certificate price.

OK… Dick’s managed to save me $0.53 cents by doing what they did. But, I’m pretty sure that the state of Illinois, Champaign county, and the city of Champaign wouldn’t be happy to learn that they didn’t get any tax on that $10. If Dick’s is doing this for all of their gift certificates, they are robbing the government from a lot of revenue.

Just some food for thought…

A few months ago at a Champaign Park District 5k race, I won a backpack thingy and a $10 Dick’s Sporting Goods gift certificate for knowing that Alison Krauss is from Champaign. (They asked trivia questions after the race, and I was the first one to answer some question where Alison Krauss was the answer).

Back before Christmas, I was wandering through Dick’s looking for something to buy for someone, and I ran across their Maglite selections. Hey, everyone can use a Maglite, right? They had them on sale, so I picked up a 2-aa battery Maglite for $12.99 plus tax. After the gift certificate, I think I paid $3.23.

A few days later, I was looking around at Home Depot and they had stuff on sale as well. They had a combo pack… a 2-aa Maglite, as well as a 2-aaa Maglite. Their price for both lights? $10.74. So, I bought the Maglites from Home Depot and figured I’d return the Maglite to Dick’s. That was strike 1 against Dick’s. (high prices!)

So, I headed back to Dick’s. Made my way up to the cashier and told her I wanted to return something. She acted like she could help me with that, so that was cool. I didn’t have to find a magical service desk or anything. I handed over the light and the receipt. She asked if I had the credit card that I had charged it to, which I gave her. She started punching numbers, clicked her little “I need a manager” light, the manager showed up, pressed a few keys, and she proceeded to give me the money back for the Maglite: $3.23. And only $3.23. Strike 2.

I told her it was more than that. She said, “No, that’s what it was.” I showed her the ticket, and she proceeded to tell me that since it was a gift certificate, I didn’t get a refund for that. Huh?!! She said that $3.23 was all that I get. So, I return a light that’s worth $13 (according to them) and they want to give me three bucks. Good thing I didn’t have a $1,000 gift certificate and wanted to return something that cost $1,003. She’d have told me that I only deserved $3 in that case, as well.

So, I told her that was crazy and didn’t make any sense. She assured me that was the company policy. I tried to be reasonable. I asked if, at the very least, she could just give me another gift certificate then. I could use the gift certificate for something else in the store that way. She then assured me that, according to company policy, “They weren’t supposed to do that either.” I told her that didn’t make any sense, and if that’s the way they were going to be, to just give me the light back. So, she rung up the light, applied a magical $10 gift certificate to it, charged me $3.54, and I left with a light that I didn’t want. No, I didn’t leave satisfied. Strike 3.

Since then, I’ve thought about this a fair amount, and I’ve come up with the perfect solution, if I wanted to lie about it. I could just take the mag light in there, tell them I had gotten it for Christmas, didn’t have a receipt (but was assured it was from Dick’s) and wanted a refund. They’d have insisted on store credit only, and I’d have gotten store credit for $13.23, and all would have been well. It’s pretty bad when I’m tempted to lie just so a store will do the right thing. I could still do that, but I don’t plan to. I’ll live with the expensive light, but I’m not the same man as before. I’m a little bit wiser, and I’ll take things like this into consideration when I decide where to spend my future money.

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