I’m Going Broke!

I think it’s funny how I look for ways to save a few bucks by 1) buying multiple Sunday papers (at least $4) to clip coupons, 2) endure all the annoying pop-ups and adware to print coupons from websites, only to have my information sold to unscrupulous advertisers who send me ads for their products, which I buy…

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Seriously, I look for the cheapest place to have my oil changed (with coupons of course), only to spend four times the coupon amount on brake fluid, a radiator flush, ball-joint replacements, and a new battery, all of which is “absolutely necessary” if I want to “safely drive my car home “.

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I think most people are the same way. We always seem to spend more, but focus on the “amount saved” while spending more. It doesn’t compute, but we have to view it that way in order to feel like a savvy shopper. How much do we have to spend in order to save money?

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I had a wife (yes, I’ve had a few) who once told me she saved us $300 that day. I knew all too well what she actually meant by that, so I stuck out my hand and the dialog went like this: “Great! Where is it”? “Where’s what”? “The $300”. “Huh”? “The money you saved us. Where is it”? (You might be discovering why I’ve had a few wives) “Well I don’t actually have the money”. “I see. So, how much did you spend to save us $300″?

We all seem to fall victim to this kind of marketing ploy. I love the supermarkets who reward their valued customers who have a vip card, or whatever they call it. When you’re at the self checkout, doing their job, as every vip should, the computer tells you that you saved 35 cents today. Oh, you mean the 35 cents that the idiot who doesn’t have a loyalty card has to pay? Woo-hoo! Score!

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We leave the store feeling good that we saved money, even though we’re fully aware that we would have saved $5 on the same items at the no frills grocery a few miles away – where you originally really saved money by bagging your own groceries.

Now we pay more money to ring up and bag our own groceries, thinking we’re saving time, which is great until the computer keeps stopping to notify an attendant to help you three times during your speedy check out, so it would have been faster to have someone with experience check you out AND bag your groceries.

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I have three problems with these systems. 1) they were designed to eliminate jobs in a day and age when we are supposed to be creating them 2) as mentioned above, it often takes longer because there is an unskilled worker – me – driving the bus. Every customer should, just like employees, have to complete a training program before being allowed to use the system, and 3) I just spent more money doing all of the work when I could have saved money at the no frills grocery and only had to bag the groceries!

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Why would anyone fall for this? I should get a substantial discount to do the work. The “think tank” responsible for the concept are full of geniuses. Seriously. Somebody said, “Hey, I have an idea that will save us a fortune! We’ll get the customers to work for us! That way, we can lay off half of the checkers, still have the staff (us) to do the work for free and we don’t even have to train them or pay benefits”! Brilliant!

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It’s amazing how marketing people can get us to do their bidding. By disguising the real motive as something new and fancy. Sort of like the joints where they make your pizza, but you have to take it home and cook it. They hire only kids, there is no delivery service costs, the pizza about the same price as a place where they still bake the pies and send you on your way with a delightful meal that you can eat immediately by just opening the box!

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Ugh. I really don’t like where our customer service industry is headed. But there is one saving grace. At least at the self checkout stations you can still scan your coupons.

See you tomorrow.

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Facebook: Jerry Mabbott
Twitter: @jmabbott

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