|A magnificent tire inflator.|
Pay full price with cash in the store.
I always carry a tire inflator in my car. It is a small 12 volt powered air compressor that plugs into the cigarette lighter plug and will re-inflate a flat tire providing that the leak is small such as a nail. It can't work miracles, if your tire suffers a blow out from a large puncture or the bead becomes unseated from the rim you are SOL. But those are relatively rare incidents. More common is just the lowly nail, and having an inflator has saved me from having to change a tire under less than ideal circumstances. I simply inflated the tire and then drove to the tire place to get it repaired.
A couple of years ago the cord on my then inflator went bad. I had a low tire and was at K-mart so I went in and found a cheap Craftsman unit (K-mart now being in cahoots with Sears) that I although I was not satisfied with bought anyhow because I had a damn near flat tire in the parking lot and it was on sale for only $22, so what the hell. It turned out to be the best unit I ever bought. It is small, but relatively fast compared to my older units that I spent a lot more for and it has a very nice digital tire gauge. I have been quite pleased with the unit. Yesterday I saw that K-mart had the unit on sale on the Internet for $19.99. Normal internet price is $34.99. So I decide I am going to be a responsible father and buy my son one of these for his car.
I do the Internet buy here at home flawlessly. I will pick it up at a K-mart on the way to my son's house. I wait for the return email to come which took a lot longer than when I have done similar transactions at Sears, but still within 90 minutes I got the Your Package is Ready For Pick-up email. So I called my son and said hey I want to drop this off. When is a good time for you? He says he will stick around if I can bring it now. He lives 40 minutes from me and the K-mart I selected is on the way to his place...I am smart that way. HA! OK, I will get it now, see you in hour. Yeah right.
So I get to the K-mart but I have no idea where to go to pick it up. I go to customer service desk which is staffed by one person. Two women are in line in front of me with bundles of returns. The service rep is taking care of the customers, answering the phone, and has an inter-store communicator with a head set that he keeps talking into as problems arise in the store. So I wait for about 10 minutes. Finally one of the registers calls him to clear a register, so I catch him enroute and ask him where to pick this up. At the registers. Thanks.
So I have blown 10 minutes. Two registers are open, so I get in a long line that surprisingly moved fairly quickly. In front of the registers are these big locked cabinets that scream in bright red THANKS FOR SHOPPING KMART AT THE INTERNET. YOUR PURCHASE IS HERE! JUST LOOK ABOUT STUPID YOU DON'T HAVE TO STAND AT CUSTOMER SERVICE FOR 10 MINUTES.
So I get to the register and hand over my email and the cashier smartly goes up unlocks one of the cabinets and gets my purchase. There is a receipt print out with the package that has my name and a bar code and the fact that I paid for it on line with my credit card. I have piece of paper that says the same thing, I have the credit card, and my photo drivers license. The only thing I could have done better was to have my birth certificate and a passport.
Yes! It is me picking this up. Yes! The inflator is available sitting on the checkout counter. Yes! I am properly identified. Yes! I have the credit card used to pay for it on-line. No! Nothing is expired. Yes! I and the store both have the documentation. The flesh and blood employees of this store want to give my my tire inflator. Everything is in order. The computer, however in its infinite wisdom, will not release the item. Yes he did make this purchase, yes you have it here at the register and yes it is him. TOO BAD YOU CAN'T RELEASE THIS SALE. So the cashier, bless her heart tries and tries. She goes over to the other cashier who knows how to do this. She is doing it right. She talks to the guy at customer service on the walky talky. Yes she is doing it right. The mood of those behind me in line is souring. I start to fear for a little for my personal safety. I am tempted to say screw it, but I have 25 minutes of driving, a gallon of gas, and 20 minutes of waiting already invested in my 15 dollar savings, plus I still have to drive home and a busy son waiting for his kind but somewhat fuddy duddy father to show up with this stupid tire inflator so he can get on with his day. I soldier on.
"I can't do this. You have to go to the customer service desk." So I said OK and I go to grab the inflator. She says, "I'll get that." I said "Oh, that's OK, I'll carry it over, and you can take care of everyone who have been patiently waiting" trying to ingratiate myself to the impatient hordes behind me. "No you can't, I have to carry it." I guess they were worried that I was going to dart out of the door with the tire inflator that I paid for on the Internet. More huffing and aheming in the line behind me as we walk away.
So now I get back in line at the customer service desk. The guy is on the phone with a customer that insists that K-Mart should cash their check with an expired photo ID. On and on it goes. Meanwhile the guy is taking care of the customer returns. Finally I get up to the counter. The paperwork gets scanned yet another 43 times. I am still me, I still have my photo ID, I still have my credit card, they still have a piece of paper with a barcode that says that this inflator is mine already paid for and I have the same piece of paper...but the computer remains unmoved. I do not deserve this inflator, and it will not be cajoled into releasing my already paid for inflator into my very present awaiting well identified hands. The guy says in exasperation, "I can't give you this." I said very cooly, "There has to be a way." He said "You're right, you have been very patient." So, after perusing all the documentation, we agreed to do it the old way. I signed and dated the email with a note that I received the material, like I did hundreds of times with industrial suppliers in my career of buying things worth hundreds and at times thousands of dollars. I walked out of the store triumphant with my purchase having only spent 30 minutes, to save 15 dollars. Fifty cents a minute. Not bad!
Now all I have to do is watch my credit card bill. I should be charged 19.99 plus tax. I have a sneaking suspicion that I will get a bill for something on the order of $1,668.37 which will account for my original purchase and the other 77 times the bar code was scanned trying to appease the computer. When I am at my trial for refusing to pay more than $21.39, I hope common sense will prevail that the local K-mart could not possibly have had 78 units in stock. Perhaps my lawyer will be able to subpoena store security cam footage with me standing in lines for 30 minutes and leaving the store with one small bag. However, I estimate legal fees and court costs will probably be on the order of $5,000 so maybe just paying the bill will be the smart move.
If I were to repeat this transaction today, I would go to the bank and get fifty bucks in small denomination bills. I would then go to the K-mart and pick up this inflator off the counter and walk it to a register. It would probably cost $39.99 in the store. I believe 34.99 is the normal internet price. If the sale went flawlessly, I would give the cashier a 5 dollar tip. I wished I had done that yesterday. It would have been so much simpler.