THE CYNICAL SHOPPER

    I bought a new laptop computer on-line the other day, and the sales person treated me well – even saved me 50% on next-day delivery charge.  Naturally, I became suspicious.

“What’s up with this?” I wondered. “Why is she being so nice?  What am I missing?”

“You’re one of the most cynical people I know,” the wife chimed in when I spoke of the incident later that night.  “You always look at the negative until proven otherwise.”

“I look at the world with a critical eye,” I countered.

“Well, that’s how you couch it,” she volleyed back.  “But if someone sees it the other way you just say they are being naive.  Not everyone can be horrible.”

“Give them a chance,” I parried.  “Besides which, my cynicism has been well-earned.  Remember the last time I bought a laptop on-line?”

It was about a $1000 unit, and I was going to pay for the thing outright, as I usually
do.  Then the sales person said, “we are running a special promotion this week.
If you pay over three installments, we’ll throw in some (unremembered upgrades).  And there’s no charge for the three-month line of credit.”

I hemmed and hawed for a bit, explaining that I come from Depression Era folk who are loathe to purchase things on credit. But she convinced me of the sincerity of their offer, and I over-rode my better judgement, and agreed to the terms.

So three months go by.  I got the computer – worked very nicely – and on the first of each of the next three months I wrote out and sent along a check for $333 thinking that would be the end of that, win-win.

One month later, however, I receive another bill.  This one for $200 for what they were now claiming was a “late charge”.

I called the company, and explained the entire process, including the special three-month promotion, and my initial hesitance to sign up for it, and how this must be some terrible misunderstanding since my three bills were paid promptly on the first of every month.

“Well, you see, sir,” began the artful computer company staffer/former aluminum siding salesperson (just a guess). “If you look at the fine print on the contract you will see that promotion ended two weeks before we received your last check.”

“Wait a minute. You’re telling me that I’m being charged $200 for signing on to a promotion that you talked me into without first informing me that the thing was going to end two weeks before my last payment was due?!  Is that the level of gall you are now presenting me with?”

I fumed and fulminated. Many “harrummphs” ensued, yet she held firm to her “it’s out of my hands” non-involvement personal escape mechanism. Finally, I asked for her company I.D. number, and informed her I would have my lawyer call the eponymous owner of the computer company to pass along my unhappiness, her and other company I.D. numbers of the people I had spoken to, and to make sure that he was fully aware that this was how his company chose to make money off its customers.

That combination finally registered, and I was allowed safe passage back to shores of sanity without the aforementioned $200 penalty.

So next time when the wife accuses me of being cynical after hearing a computer sales person offer me special treatment, naturally, I become defensive.  Wouldn’t you?

Oh, the new computer works just fine, and it’s all paid off.  An HP, BTW.

END

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