Wednesday, April 4, 2012

"Dude, where is my $15?"

Months ago, I received a coupon from Dell for being such a good customer.  $15 off a purchase of $50 or more.  The discount portion of my head went off: 5, 10, 15 → 3: 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50 → 10.  Wow, 30% off a future purchase of ink!  I put the coupon in the computer desk drawer since I had enough ink.  Although I can be a procrastinator, I’m also known for being cheap.  Well, thrifty.  Well, let’s just say I have a deep connection to my money and don’t like parting with it.

At any rate, I think I have lots of time and extra ink, so I put the coupon in the back of my mind.  For reasons unknown to me, I think the coupon expires 12/31/2011.  I am so sure, I don’t even double check.  So eventually the ink in the printer finishes.  I’m looking through the drawers and realize I have no more ink.  With my old printer, I could take the ink out and shake it to get the last drop.  Not this printer.  It insisted that unless I replace the black ink, nothing will print.  When I grab the coupon from the drawer, I realize it expired 10/31/2011.  Damnit, I’m TWO months late! 

Well, Dell sent it to me specifically, so I don’t see why they can’t honor it.  Right?  I mean after all it was sent because I was such a loyal customer for over 10 years.  I went on the website and started chatting with a representative.  I explained my dilemma, and he assured me that they’ll be able to help.  Unfortunately I was multitasking, as usual, and the 800 number he gave me disappeared along with the conversation.

I went back on chat and another representative gave me a number.  I called and was eventually transferred to a supervisor who kindly told me that unfortunately the coupon had expired and as much as he wishes he could help me there is nothing that he can do for me.  Well, I’m still learning when to give up, but I haven’t gotten there as yet, so I responded, “Well if you really want to help me, such a loyal customer, you could just give me another coupon.  After all, you are not really helping me by saying no.”

Of course I tried all kinds of strategies, and the blame game was on.  “Why didn’t the other representatives tell me this before?  Why did I have to go through three people to hear this?”  Not even guilt worked.

He kept repeating that as much as he’d like to he couldn’t, and after the sixth time, I realize I’d lost this battle.

But I’d have to find a way to get back that $15!

As much as I tell my kids that in life you win some and you lose some, I was having a hard time coping with the fact that I just basically threw good money away.

And it’s not the fact that I lost money because when I was 19, my church youth group was going on a trip.  I took about $200 or $300 off my account and lost it before my lunch was over.  I didn’t even blink.  I just took some more money off and secured it properly.  After all, losing money is part of life, but holding a physical coupon in your hands that is useless is another thing.

And 30% off ink is a steal of a deal.  First I’m not doing anything extra.  It’s a phone call away.  And the shipment comes to my house.  Second, when I put it on my credit card, it takes at least 30 days before I have to pay, so it is doubly worth the trouble.

Sometimes it gets tempting because everyone likes free or near free stuff.  The other day, some McDonalds coupons came in the mail, and I couldn’t wait to use the 29¢ for medium fries on February 29.  Would you believe it snowed on that day?  All winter, nothing.  Then on that day enough snow came for the school to be closed.  It totally messed up my schedule, and there was no way I was wasting gas to buy fries for 29¢.  So I guess I’ll have to wait until 2016……

Two weeks ago I went to Gymboree because it was time to use my Gymbucks.  Basically for every $50 spent, you get a certificate for $25 to be used in the future for every $50 you spend.  Now you know I’m not going to forget to use a 50% off coupon.  And I whipped out my Gymboree Credit Card and got an extra 5% off.

So I got home, and I’m totally happy with my purchase, and as I’m looking through my wallet, I see a 20% off coupon.  How could I miss that?  Then I start speed thinking.  It doesn’t make sense to drive 45 minutes just for a 20% off because really I’m only saving $5 since my purchase came to $55.  If I had used my 20% coupon, the purchase has to total a minimum of $66.  That would take it down to about $53, then my extra 5% off would take it to about $50 and change.  Because it’s Gymbucks time again, and I’m not getting left behind.

Then I hear my daughter whispering, “El Cheapo is not letting that 20% discount pass her.”  But I explained that it wouldn’t be worth it since the store is so far.  But then I think again, “Hey, that’s an extra $5.”  So by 6:30 pm I rounded up the kids quickly and got in the car.  I drove no more than two minutes then said, “Myra, come on, by the time you get back, it’ll be almost 8:30.  It’ll be dark and you’ll be nervous because you can't see the road, plus you need to get the kids to bed.  It’s just not worth an extra $5 or even $10”……..Well maybe $10 would have been worth it.  At any rate, I reversed and tried to figure out when I can  use that 20% coupon again.

It’s such a fine line between trying to save a penny and going out of your way to save it.  At least I’m not one of those people who drive the extra mile to get cheaper gas.  (You know who you are!)  I did the math.  Let’s say one gas station has gas for $3.699 and another for $3.659.  If you put 10 gallons in your car, you are only saving 40¢ by going to the cheaper gas station.

40¢!  Look, even if that gas is 20¢ cheaper, you are only saving $2 on 10 gallons of gas.  You might think it's a big savings, but is the wear and tear on the car worth more than $2?

Perspectively speaking, it’s not even worth it!


  1. Her cheapness has helped me tremendously. so go all the way El cheapo

  2. Oh thank you so much for writing this. You totally made me laugh. I loved the entire post. I am just like that, when it comes to thinking about whether it is worth it or not to drive back because you forgot to use some coupon. I also am scatterbrained and will lose stuff like the phone number after just getting off the phone with someone, like say Dell's, which I also hate when they make it sound like they will help you and then you call the number and they say something completely different. That's bad customer service for very loyal customers. I loved the "El Cheapo" part too. Hilariously funny! By the way thanks for following me. I am now following you back.

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