When Free Is Not Free

I frequent a store that gives you “cash coupons” for charging their merchandise. This week my coupons were expiring, so I went to the store to get a little something for myself. I also brought a 2015 holiday $50 gift card, to ensure that I wouldn’t be spending any of my own money. That’s what I’m striving for, as you know.

I picked an item, the price of which was two-thirds the value of all my coupons; the remaining third would come out of my gift card  (I thought). For context, the item was less than $30.

The customer in front of me—a middle-age blonde in modern, snappy clothes—was laughing it up with the cashier. A bad sign. I’m not a chatter and laugher. I’m more a tolerater and smiler.

I put the item on the counter, put my coupons down, and had my gift card in hand. At no time was I going to take out my wallet. If I went for that, it was all over.

The cashier said I could not buy the item with my coupons and the gift card. That combination wasn’t how they work it. Cashier said that my item would cost 40% less if I used my store credit card with the coupons, but I had to put some money on my store credit card. Even $1 would do. “I can’t put a balance on the gift card after the coupons?” No.

I then said something to the effect of, “So I have three times the amount of your store credit that I actually need to buy this and I have to pay something?” and I started to pull away from the counter. Cashier got grumpy and said that if it were to ring up with all coupons I couldn’t return it. I huffed that because the item was so generic and inexpensive, I would not return it. Then Cashier said that both coupons would probably not go through. They went through.

I got the item for free. Well, not free. I’d previously spent tons of cash in the store and then received the “reward” that the company set up in some marketing room. I don’t blame Cashier necessarily; the whole procedure is unfair.

Nevertheless, I paid nothing. I would say that’s a win.


I’m up, I’m up

Got up at 8 a.m. to start working. Couldn’t sleep any longer. Lots of rumination: a regular occurrence for me. If I can get this minimum amount of work done this morning, I’ll have time for other work later. And maybe an afternoon with the kid that doesn’t include electronics. I really need to get other clients, get more work. Lots of pressure.