See if you can follow this because to me it was crystal clear — basic math, and certainly not brain science. I went to a beauty store (part of a national chain — yes, that one) to make a return. I was returning three eye pencils which had been offered as a “buy 1, get 2 free” deal, along with a free gift. After I had made the purchase, I realized that no, I didn’t really need three more eye pencils and the free gift was worthless to me. So back they went. Still with me, right?
Okay. Now, in addition to those pencils, I had also bought $20 of other merchandise. Plus, the store had offered $5 off any purchase of $15 or more (sometimes I think these offers on top of offers are just silly).
Now what this chain does is take off a percentage of the $5 from each item in the purchase (why, I have no idea). However, given that I was returning $8 worth of eye pencil from a purchase of $28, my $5 off should stay with me.
One would think.
The salesgirl (really, she couldn’t have been more than 19) couldn’t quite grasp the concept.
Me: Hi, I’d like to return all three eye pencils plus the free gift. Everything is unopened.
SG: Reason for return?
Me: I realized I don’t need the pencils and the free gift isn’t what I thought it would be.
SG: But you’re only paying for one pencil and getting three plus the gift.
Me: I understand. But I don’t need them.
SG: If it was me, I couldn’t return this stuff. I’m a hoarder.
SG: Okay. Let me process the return.
Me: I saved $5 because the purchase was over $15. Even with the return, it’s still over $15, so I should still benefit from the $5 off.
SG: Right, hon.
Me: (Hon? Seriously?)
SG: Okay. Please run your credit card through.
Me: Uh, no. It looks like I’m losing nearly half of that $5.
SG: That’s because of our computer system.
SG: That’s what it does (giggle).
Me: You need to fix the error.
SG: Okay. Let me figure this one out. (Presses a gazillion buttons on the register, answers two phone calls, and goes to assist the sales infant next to her.)
SG: Okay. All good now.
Me: Thanks so much.
SG: Don’t worry about it, hon.
Me: (Once again, seriously? I’m the customer, I’m not the one who made the error, and do not call me “hon” — I’ve been using eye pencils since before you knew how to write.)
The motto of this story? If an offer sounds too good to be true, it’s probably not worth it in the end.
© 2012 Claudia Grossman