Holiday Shopping Puzzlers

il_340x270-1.1358738970_n9r8I actually enjoy holiday shopping but sadly my family has ruined it for me. Now, I get lists where all I have do is point and click to their on-line shopping bag. Efficient? Yes. Fun? No. This means the only real shopping I do is for myself because, yes, I buy my own presents.

There are though a few things that puzzle me about shopping in December and one of them is the music being played in stores. Props to Bath and Body Works for their traditional approach in regard to holiday tuneage. Burl Ives gentle crooning on “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer” is something to be treasured and lulled me into buying yet another “Fresh Balsam” holiday candle. And when Johnny Mathis started singing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” I felt duty bound to double up on my “Peppermint Twist” bath gel purchase.

Sadly, the music segued to ghastly at the next store I went into. What’s up current singers butchering a classic? Jingle Bells doesn’t required vocal gymnastics? I’m tone deaf but even I don’t think that “dashing through the snow in a one-horse open sleigh” requires a show-offy take on the lyrics.

Another thing that confuses me are coupon conundrums. Pretty much retail speaking, no matter what store you go into everything is marked down by at least 30 percent. You also then have your digital coupons and loyalty savings for a “joining” the store “club” etc. The problem is that the math required to use your coupons is ACT worthy and presents a mathematical brain teaser.

Can you combine the current discount with your coupon and loyalty card? If the answer is no, you then have to try to figure out what will be cheaper just taking the discounted price or going the coupon route combined with the loyalty reduction? And then what if you return the purchase will you get your loyalty bucks back?

The people who say you never use math once you graduate are fools. I use math every time I shop and not to brag but I can add up what’s in my Target cart and I’m usually not off my more than 15 cents. It still amazes my kids. My son once asked me how can I do that but not know basic algebra? I told him my skill set was “everyday math.”

Holiday shopping also woos me to make dumb decisions. As in I recently bought a hat. Not a hat to wear when I walk my dogs, but a fashion statement hat. A beret to be exact. J Crew had all these cute berets laid out on a counter and the fact that they looked like giant macaroons might have influenced my decision to buy one. (I was hungry.) As soon as I attempted to wear my beret in public, I felt very self-conscious, like the people might be feeling sorry for me kind of self-conscious.

I just don’t have the face or the head for a beret. But, then not two days later I was seduced by a fedora at Anthropolgie. It didn’t help that some very lovely young ladies were in the store wearing fedoras. I decided to give it try and let’s just say it wasn’t for me.

I was bummed. I want to be the kind of woman who can pull off a hat. But then I started thinking positive about my beret. I was going to wear it but only when I go out with my daughter. At 18 she’ll be mortified to see me styling a huge hot pink wool macaroon that’s perched on my head at a very jaunty angle. Hmm, maybe that beret wasn’t such a bad purchase after all.



The Upsell is Ticking Me Off

53853949c74cb236cae412a229775635I want to live in a world where you can get your oil changed and aren’t subjected to a five-minute upsell on various fluid replacements and the granddaddy of them all – new air filters. I’m no conspiracy theorist, but I’m beginning to believe that each oil change shop has one all-purpose grimy, Darth Vader black, air filter that they keep behind the counter to convince you that you do indeed need to spend upwards of $100 on new ones. And because I was having an annoying morning I floated that idea to the oil change guy.

I told him the air filter he was showing me looked like I daily drove my car into the belly of a coal mine. There was no way that was my filter. Mainly because I just had my filters changed last time. Dropping that bomb got the guy to back off on the upsell which was a good move on his part. There was some bad mojo happening inside my brain and I felt like I was about to lose my mind. I had the tag lines for all the Real Housewives of Atlanta stuck in my head (which FYI is a million times worse than having a song on cranial auto loop) and it’s was making me super cranky.

If you’re right now going huh over the whole tag line thing here’s a quick Real Housewives primer. The opening of every Real Housewives show features the “ladies” (Yep quotes around ladies because the women who are featured as “housewives” don’t demonstrate even remotely the gentle graces of that appellation. If there was truth in tilting all the shows would be called the Real Shrews of Insert City of Your Choice Here.) saying some ridiculous one liner about their lives. For instance on the Real Housewives of New York one unemployed woman, getting a divorce for the last decade, and quite possibly suffering from some sort of Botox poisoning that has led to delayed cognitive skills says “I have a taste for luxury, and luxury has a taste for me.”

When the oil change guy was berating/scaring me about my filter I was this close to belting out Atlanta housewife Kandi Burruss’s tag line from 2015 “I’m not about the drama. Don’t start none, won’t be none” which would have been muy embarrassing. Plus, I know it’s not the oil change employee’s fault he’s aggressively trying to upsell. It’s part of the 21st century retail experience.

There’s not a store I can think of you where you can complete your transaction without some sort of upsell or continued invasion of your privacy. It’s gotten so bad when I check out at Target I immediately look the cashier in the eye and politely state that, “No I do not want a Red card in either debit or credit form.” Even worse are all those stores with point systems and now some retail conglomerates have grown greedy tentacles and created point octopuses. This is where you can sign up for points at say a clothing store and also get gas points at a convenience store that’s not even in your time zone.

It’s so confusing that to use all those points you would need at least a Bachelor of Science in forensic retailing. Forget about the reality TV show Extreme Couponing that’s for amateurs. Clipping coupons and digging through dumpsters for newspaper circulars is downright remedial. The real drama would be watching someone track, sort, and use all their shopping points.

Enter the RPI – Retail Point Investigator. (Think of it as a CSI combined with the shopping acumen of Black Friday groupie.) This breed of scientist would look at your points and determine their DNA (ie what store they really came from), if there’s any cross contamination between retail establishment thus rendering your points invalid, use the latest in mass spectrometry to find important clues like if  your points have been combined with your husband’s or if there were cast off points and if there’s trace evidence to suggest if you should be receiving double or bonus points. I can’t be the only one who thinks this would be must watch television. If there’s a CSI:Cyber there’s no reason why there can’t be a CSI: Retail Points Investigator.

Plus imagine the viewing audience it would pull in. Thankfully most of us have lives that aren’t touched by a murder, but all of us have retail points. I’ve already got a great idea for the pilot. A woman walks into an oil change shop and just as the guy is trying to sell her a new filter she whips out a points card. Does the woman buy the new filter with points? Does the oil change guy declare that they no longer honor those points? Is there a throw down? Is it time to call in the Retail Point Investigator? Stay tuned.