Thursday, December 29, 2011

Shop 'Till I Scream (Or Pee My Pants)

In search of a perfect black sweater, I ventured to the mall braving the post-holiday flux of bargain shoppers. A deal is a deal, even if it means death by stampedes of heartless hunters out for "The Deal."

After visiting two stores, I found my perfect black sweater, on sale with an additional thirty percent off. I felt the rush of fine tequila without lemon or shaker of salt. Adding to my euphoria: NO LINE AT CHECKOUT! Had I died and gone to Heaven where I'd most likely wait in line, or sent to a waiting room for sentencing? For me, when I can enter a store, snap up an item without having to try on more than two things all within a matter of twenty minutes, it's a successful trip.

And then the counter clerk asks, "Do you have a Banana Card?"

"I do," I replied as I dug out my not-a-credit-debit-card.

Says lovely counter clerk, "You can save an additional ten percent if you use your Banana Card."

"Uh, no thanks," said I while choking my inner voice that wanted to scream, "Do you know what the interest is on that lousy Banana Card or did it slip your mind?"

Seriously, ten percent so I can swipe my card and later pay an APR of twenty-four percent isn't my idea of "The Deal." Yeah, yeah. I know what some might say: "Well, if you pay the entire balance you aren't charged the interest."

I don't have time to look up the statistics, but having known many people in possession of credit cards, few will honestly say that they pay off the balance each month. The rest are lying because credit card companies are masters of smoke and mirror tactics. They make it appear like "The Deal," and soon credit card use turns into a substitute for crack.

All this went through my mind as I stood at the check out, my lofty nirvana squashed by the check out clerk also known as Torquemada, the Grand Inquisitor. "And you also will get bonus points for every dollar you charge," she chirped, "and receive reward gift cards!"

Oh, spare me, although I'm thankful that she didn't tell me how many dollars I need to charge in order to get a lousy ten dollar gift card that's only good when used with my Banana Card. After all, my mission had been accomplished, black sweater almost in the bag.

"May I see your signature on the card?" she says.

Little did I realize that I resembled an identity thief. I flip my card for her to see. She takes it to study closer. My bladder sends a signal that we need to leave the store soon. And then she says, "Can I have your zip code?"

A test to get the coveted black sweater from dressing room to shopping bag. Really? Should I have studied first? Couldn't they have posted a warning nearby the cash-wrap that there would be a Q&A upon check out?

So much for twenty minute shopping trips. Post Bah-Humbug! No wonder consumers prefer on-line shopping (she says as she finishes blog posts and wanders to the Zappos web cite).

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