Maggie doesn't approve of Santa

As I was getting ready for work the other day, I heard a Christmas ad on the radio. I know that I need to face the facts and accept that the holidays are almost upon us, so the ad itself didn’t bother me. However the content of the ad kind of did.

There’s a mall in the area that’s opening at 3:00 AM on November 24. Three o’clock in the morning! They’re making it an event called Rockin’ Shoppin’ Eve, and the radio station’s morning drive DJ will be there to host. They’re having live music, Starbucks coffee, and a variety of prizes and giveaways. Honestly, I think it sounds like fun. I would never get up to be at the mall at 3 AM, but I might consider staying up to go there at that time.

But then there’s the other side of it. Character Builder‘s husband is a manager (manager = salaried = no overtime pay) at a retail store. As it is, he has to be there at an ungodly hour on the day after Thanksgiving. And that’s just the first day in a six-week series of Very. Long. Days.

This is just crazy! Do we really need to start shopping earlier and earlier every year? I know Kmart is open on Thanksgiving Day itself, and they’ve been doing it for a few years now. I don’t think that it will be too many years before it becomes commonplace and acceptable for all stores to do it. There are already signs of the promotions and sales starting before Thanksgiving.

What’s your prediction—in what year will the Christmas sale promotions start November 1?


Macy*s Mania

The chair that caused it all

You may remember that about a year ago, J.P. and I were working on finishing our living room. We installed crown moulding, painted, and got new furniture. Well, we completed all but one element of the living room before the baby shower that we held at the end of April. The chair pictured above didn’t arrive in time, and it turned into quite the little saga. Here’s a brief summary.

January 2, 2005
We order a couch and two chairs from the Macy’s furniture store in Cherry Hill, NJ. The sales person informs us that the furniture will arrive in 10-12 weeks.

Late March, 2005
I call Macy’s to see when our furniture will arrive. I’m told that one of the chairs and the couch are in, and they’ll deliver everything once the second chair arrives.

Early April, 2005
Still no furniture. After having several of my calls go unreturned, I happen to reach the store’s sales manager. I explain the problem, and while chair #2 still hasn’t arrived, she agrees to deliver the other two pieces so our baby shower guests have a place to sit.

April 20, 2005
The couch and chair #1 arrive. Chair #2 still MIA.

Mid-May, 2005
Macy’s still has not located chair #2. The manager thinks it may be lost in the warehouse. I think it may have been sold to someone else. She agrees to re-order the chair, and offers me a $60 Macy’s gift card for my trouble. Of course it will take another 10-12 weeks for the chair to arrive, and I’ll get my gift card after delivery. I’m not too happy with peace offering or the additional waiting, but the baby shower has already occurred, so it’s not that big a deal.

Mid-August, 2005
Macy’s calls to schedule delivery of our chair. Yeah! We’re almost there!

Early September, 2005
J.P. works from home so he can accept delivery of the chair. He calls me at the office to tell me of its arrival:

J.P.: Hey, honey, our chair is here! Do you want the good news or the bad news?
Me: Uh, oh. What’s the good news?
J.P.: Our chair is here!
Me: Um, okay . . . what’s the bad news?
J.P.: It’s the wrong one.
Me: &(*#^$@)!#!! Are you kidding me?!?

Yes, that’s right. They ordered the wrong chair. The delivery guys couldn’t believe it—it looked just like chair #1! Yep, it looked just like chair #1, but it wasn’t SUPPOSED to!

Macy’s reorders the chair (again!), and this time puts a rush on the order.

Mid-October, 2005
The chair arrives! The correct chair! Woohoo!

You might think the story ends here. Oh, how I wish it ended here. But remember that $60 gift card the manager offered me? Yeah, it was going to take more than that to make me happy.

I called Macy’s customer service number and explained the situation to the woman who answered the phone. Guess what she offered me? Yep, a $60 gift card. First of all, sixty bucks was NOWHERE NEAR enough compensation, and second of all, the LAST thing I wanted was to spend more money at Macy’s. I wanted cash on the barrelhead! There’s more to this part of the story, but in the end I got a 25% discount on the price of the chair.

Think that’s the end of it? Nope, not yet. When we placed the initial order, we put down a 25% deposit. When the couch and chair #1 were delivered, they prorated the deposit and applied a portion of it to our account. Cool. But guess what? When chair #2 was delivered, we didn’t get credit for the rest of the deposit. AND! When we paid what we owed on the chair, they applied it to the wrong portion of our account. So we had a credit balance on the regular revolving part of the account, and still owed them money on the major purchases part of the account.

While the late fees piled up, I struggled to explain (to no fewer than six different people) that the portion of the 25% deposit that they owed us was NOT the same as the 25% discount they gave me as compensation for screwing up so royally. I finally convinced them; the remaining deposit was applied, the late fees and interest were removed, and they got all of the numbers into the right columns.

In the end, they owed us about sixty bucks. And today, March 25, 2006—447 days after we placed the initial order—our refund check arrived in the mail.

The saga finally ends



Okay, time for a new post, if only to push the cupcake photo down the page. Every time I’ve come here in the last few days to read comments or click a link, I’ve had cupcake cravings.

We got a new Eddie Bauer catalog today, and it features these:

Maybe it’s because I’m tall and can never find pants that are long enough, but I just don’t get this. I actually do have some capri pants, but they’re casual and I wear them with sandals. I don’t understand wearing them as part of a suit. The other day I saw a woman wearing them with nylons. Stacy and Clinton would’ve had a field day with her.

Also? The gauchos? Who decided this was a good look?

What’s the big idea?

My typical mid-winter doldrums were intensified today when J.P. and I visited the mall. Since before Christmas, Casual Corner has been advertising its going out of business sale, and now in the 13 remaining days they’re down to the dregs of their inventory. I stopped in to see if I could score a bargain on a spring coat, but it wasn’t meant to be. I gave the store one last look and dried a tear from my eye as we walked out the door for the final time.

I’ll miss Casual Corner, especially when I need to find a businessy outfit to replace my usual workday uniform of jeans. But I knew this day was coming and was somewhat prepared. I wasn’t prepared for what happened next.

We were walking through the mall and approached the store where I usually buy my workday uniform of jeans as well as 90% of the rest of my wardrobe. But instead of the warm wood tones and bright lights of the store, we were greeted by a temporary wall erected by the mall.

Eddie Bauer is gone! No warning, no sale, no postcard in the mail.

As of tomorrow, I’m beginning my preparations for life as a recluse. Because come spring I’ll have no clothes that are suitable for wearing in public.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year

In a lapse of judgment about six weeks ago, I scheduled haircuts for J.P. and myself for December 10. At the mall. One of the biggest malls on the East Coast. Since that was Saturday and it’s now Monday night, I think I MIGHT be able to write about our experience without having a stroke.

The mall was crowded, but mostly manageable. The problem was the parking lot. We drove around for a good 15 minutes in search of a parking space, and finally found a spot. We were about to pull into it when a woman walked between the parked cars and stood right in the vacant spot! When we paused with the blinker on and gestured for her to move out of the spot we had claimed (as her husband waited behind us in their car), she looked bored and waved us away. She didn’t even have the sense to look sheepish or guilty, or try to explain that her father was on his deathbed and they just had to get him an iPod for background music as he made his trip to the other side. Rather than cause an altercation, I began to seethe and we moved on.

Up one aisle. Down the next. Up another. Down the first aisle again. We zigged and zagged our way through the lot for several minutes, even stalking people with baby strollers and packages. We were prepared to wait while they spent 20 minutes loading their cars. But of course, they were just dropping things off, or faking us out by walking down our aisle when their car was three aisles away.

At last we turned a corner and saw two guys walking toward their BMW. No heavy packages, no whining kids. Perfect! J.P. turned on the blinker and pulled into position. Meanwhile, two other parties returned to their cars on the other side of the aisle, and two additional cars assumed their waiting positions. From overhead, it looked very similar to this:

As we waited, a black car carrying three teenage boys pulled up behind us. They honked, but there was no way we were going anywhere. Then they pulled in front of us. I thought they were just going to go by and continue their own search, but it soon became clear that they intended to take the spot that we had claimed.

I couldn’t believe it! Without even thinking (J.P. was in mid-sentence), I jumped out of the car, ran over, and stood next to the BMW. As it pulled out, I stepped into the middle of the parking space. (Good thing that nasty woman gave me the idea!) J.P. was able to maneuver around the other car and park. Buoyed by our victory, we headed toward the mall.

We looked over our shoulders to see the kids in the black car pull into space B, which car #2 had rightfully claimed. Even two days later, my blood pressure rises when I think about it. I’m not prone to vandalism, but I really think I could’ve keyed that car. And I don’t think I would’ve regretted it or felt even a little bit guilty. J.P. was nicer—he wanted to let the air out of their tires. I bet the people in car #2 would’ve helped us, too.

Thank God for internet shopping.

My husband, he’s a keeper

We’re sitting here watching the Dooney & Bourke hour on QVC.

JP: “What about that one? Why don’t you order that one?”
Me: “It’s too big. And besides, it’s almost $300.”
JP: “So? Stop being such a tight-ass. Just order it.”
Me: “I want the purse I already have (a Franco Sarto that I got at Stein Mart for $32), just in a different color.”

Part of QVC’s sales pitch involves giving the measurements of each purse handbag (apparently when you pay a lot of money you get to call it a handbag). So what does J.P. do? He gets the tape measure out of the junk drawer and measures my purse.

What do you suppose I might get for Christmas?

Driving J.P. Crazy

So we’ve decided we need to replace the Passat. I love it, but there are less than 10,000 miles left on the warranty, and it’s had more than its share of repairs. Like the new transmission they put in at 1,500 miles. And the ignition coils, vacuum hoses, and charcoal filter (who knew cars even have a charcoal filter?). Each of these repairs would’ve probably cost us several hundred dollars if they hadn’t been under warranty.

The trouble is, what to get? I want something that’s equivalent to the VW, but I’m cheap and don’t want to spend a fortune. So we’ve been test driving late-model used pre-owned cars. J.P. thought he had a winner with a 2004 Infiniti I35 yesterday, but then I wavered and he . . . well, he got a little frustrated with me. Understandably so, too. He’d done a bunch of research at that point, and then I came in with my big old veto pen. We’re going to test drive another one tomorrow night—a 2003 with only 11,000 miles on it. It seems too good to be true. I don’t want an SUV, and it has to have four doors. Other than that, I’m pretty open.

So, do you have ideas for me?