Retailer Impressions

Rocky's lost Santa gift

Now that the holiday shopping season is winding down, were there any standout retailers, good or bad, in your experience? I shopped plenty of different venues, everywhere from Amazon.com to my local Target. Here were some of my impressions.

First let’s get the bad stuff over with. Just a minor offense by our local Golfsmith store but they allegedly ran out of gift boxes in the first week of December, no doubt due to the swarms of golfers who hit the store so soon before Christmas. Really? You couldn’t estimate better than that? Old Navy lost points in my book because they were charging for their boxes. Even at Christmas time? Here’s the worst of it. Disneystore.com lost my child’s Santa gift before it even got to UPS. It was a Mickey Mouse bean bag chair I know he would like (were any of you lucky enough to get this one?), I ordered it a month before Christmas (just to be safe) and they still botched it up. Worse, they stayed in denial throughout all of my communications with them until it finally came down to the wire and then they had no choice but to fess up. By then the item was out of stock and too bad for me. Grrrrr. But wait, the customer service department, who annoyingly told me they wanted me to have a “magical experience” every time I corresponded with them could only muster enough magic to present me with a $10 voucher on Dec. 21 to be used towards shipping of another item. Do I really want to put myself through this again? I think not, the voucher didn’t even cover the cost of the 2 day shipping I would need. Upon further presenting my case, one sole rep decided I should get more for my trouble. My ears perked at the sound of this, I’ve been sick this week and didn’t particularly want to go out in the rain looking for that last minute item, I was hoping for a Disney pass or at least a decent gift card. I got a $12 plush Mickey to arrive on Christmas Eve. I’m not holding my breath on that one. I also found a couple of other friends who have had bad experiences with the online Disney store so scratch this vendor off my list.

Now the good. The JC Penney store, which, like many stores now, had to do away with their gift wrap department (so sad to see this service go) came through on the boxes, I even got extras just for the asking, no hassles. They put out some great coupons like $10 off anything (yes, you could actually get a $10 item for free) and had decent markdowns and lines that were tolerable. Macy’s had some super sales and huge discounts, boxes included as well. Nordstrom tends to be pricier and the sales less impressive but the customer service is usually right on and everything is so nicely folded in tissue and placed in great sturdy bags. Online stores Sears.com and BarnesandNoble.com came through with my orders in a timely manner, everything packaged nicely and bonus points/special offers were received. Sears has a club that’s free to join and Barnes and Noble has a free kid’s club that allowed us some extra discounts. Free shipping was a plus as well as the ability to return gifts at their local stores.

That’s a wrap for me. Happy Holidays!

Nothing is Forever

Do you recognize this character?

I know the Christmas season is all about being charitable but it seems everywhere I  go now I get hit up for more money. It used to be I could just give to the Salvation Army reps who stood outside the stores with bells and buckets, alerting me to their presence but  never harassing me when I walked by. There were school and church fundraisers where I could buy from people I know. Now I get people who want money and food for a homeless shelter actually accosting me EVERY time I go to the grocery store, not just for the holidays. “Don’t make eye contact,” I tell myself. I don’t like being this way but otherwise I feel the need to explain why I’m not contributing each and every time I shop for food. Retailers now make the employees ask outright, would you like to add a dollar to that for this or that? In this case, I usually end up saying yes because they all sound like good causes and who wants to say no to the children’s hospital in front of all the other customers? Plus there is no way to avoid eye contact with a cashier. Unfortunately, it all adds up and by the time I find a cause I really want to give a more sizeable donation to, the money is gone. Then I feel guilty like maybe I shouldn’t have splurged on a facial I got last month.  (It was AWESOME by the way.) Too late! Guess I’ll be signing up for more volunteer hours instead. Letters to the military is an easy one. I can’t remember what blog had the idea about giving kids allowance and asking them to save a portion of it in a jar and then choose what causes to use it for the following year, but maybe it’s time to inspire my little man.

Speaking of charitable causes, here’s one that won’t break the bank. All you have to do is have your child write a letter to Santa and drop it into a designated mailbox at any Macy’s store. For every letter they receive, Macy’s donates $1 to the Make-a-Wish Foundation up to a million. They even have a cute web site for you to create and print the letter: http://social.macys.com/believe2010/#/home. Rocky sent a letter asking to be surprised and then added “unless I am on the naughty list for not following the rules at school and yelling at mommy”. He’s pretty curious to know if Santa really would give him coal. He’s torn between testing the theory and risking his presents.

Does anyone know if a Swiffer Wet Jet really is a good buy? Rocky got hooked on the idea last year after watching a commercial. He continues explaining to me that I need it because it is especially good at cleaning corners.  My sister’s son has a similar affection for Aqua Globes. Do those work?

What is your best bargain find so far? I got one of those free $10 certificates that JC Penney sends out every now and then and bought a gift that also happened to be 65% off the day I went in the store. I paid about $5 for a $45 item. Sears sent me a certificate from their club program that I used to buy $65 shoes for $6. Should I even bother putting a gift receipt in those boxes? Found a $90 Lennox table cloth for $12. Oh and so far I’ve managed to get three free magazine subscriptions just for being a member of magazines.com and for ordering flowers. Just in time to let all my paid subscriptions slide.

Just heard the tune “Hey Ya!” on the radio. Always puts a pep in my step even though if you listen to the lyrics it’s not an entirely happy song. I hate being tricked like that.

Sent your Christmas cards yet? Me neither. Quit your bloggin’ and get to it! I mean me, not you. You can hop on over to the Unmom for more randomness.

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