The Sofa Thickens and the Season is Merry (and frustrating)

14 Dec

Plan for today:

1. Bigster’s German School Christmas concert, 9.30-1pm

2. Choose sofa 1-3pm (including travel)

3. Buy gift vouchers (same place)

4. Family friends’ Christmas party, 3pm-

5. Our friends’ Christmas party, some time after 5pm.

What actually happened:

9.11 leave, late for Christmas party. It is PELTING down with rain.

9.40 realise that we have gone OMG A WHOLE MAP PAGE TOO FAR because I screwed up and thought we were driving down the map not up it. (Note: In my defence, this is unusual. I am usually a Very Good Navigator)

9.47 arrive at Christmas party. They are about to start, but haven’t.

11.25 start queuing, subtly, to order lunch. Now there are 2 people in the queue, it suddenly gets a Whole Lot Longer.

12.00 kitchen opens, orders taken. Somehow I am now 5th in line.

12.30 ready to leave but oh no the raffle is on

12.50 “10 more items” in raffle

12.52 “10 more items” in raffle

12.55 “10 more items in raffle”

12.58 “just 12 items to go” in raffle

1.20 finally leave. We won 1 small prize in the raffle but were within 10 tickets many, many more times than might be considered reasonable. And within 1 place 3 or 4 times. Sigh.

1.45 arrive at shopping centre. OMG MAJOR TRAFFIC JAM and it takes us 15 minutes to get to the upper level – but we find a great parking space. Did I mention pelting down rain? Also, we are all dying for the toilet.

1.50 ahhh, sweet relief.

1.55 choose sofa. Fraser worries about the cost and points out that the cheaper (uglier and less comfy) sofas are $2600 as opposed to $4000. I point out that we are saving OMGFORTYONEPERCENT so the $4000 sofas are actually $2600. He has no answer to my amazing logic and succumbs to the lure of shopping. We check fabric patterns and decide not to get the one with the floral pattern (called “Mia”) and instead to go for the stripes (called “Rose”). I check the pattern names with a staff member, because they are counter-intuitive. She says “well, the fabric samples are in order. It must be right.” I worry that my celery green stripy sofa might become a celery green flowery sofa. I decide to trust my Nice Man In The City to make it right.

2.05. Literally. We go to the Lay-by and Service counter which actually has the first sign I have seen advertising the bonus shopping vouchers. Fraser wants to go to a normal checkout but I point out (with my amazing logic) that these people are the EXPERTS and we should wait for them as it will be simpler. He succumbs again. At least there are seats, here.

2.15 Finally it is my turn to be served (there were only 2 people ahead of me in line … maybe this should have been a clue?). I have to choose 8 different gift cards as they can only load $500 onto a single card. Then I have to swap some as they are for lots of shops and this deal is only for this shop. This takes all of a couple of minutes. We have a conversation about the special deal and how I want $3000 in vouchers plus the $300 bonus vouchers. Yes, that’s fine. Then I watch the checkout chick highly trained staff member process the vouchers. She has to:

  1. Press a button on her register
  2. Swipe the card in the EFTPOS thingo
  3. Enter some information on the register or the EFTPOS thingo
  4. OK it
  5. Rinse and repeat. OK, not rinse. But you get the idea.

This process takes around 15 minutes. We are now at 2:40. Not sure how that happened. Did 10 minutes get sucked into the void or was my internal clock off? Maybe it was only 2:30. Time meant nothing anymore, although I could check the credit card slips to see. She asks me to press OK for the VISA card transaction (why pay cash when I could whack it on my credit card?). I do, then notice that SHE HAS CHARGED ME $3300. 

I point this out.

She gets huffy and says dumb things like, “You can’t pay for gift cards with gift cards” and other things and I patiently and calmly point out that we had discussed the bonus and there was one and I was getting it. Fraser gets up from the comfy chairs and wanders over. I fear that this is not going to end well. Her manager comes over, and gets the point. She is told to cancel the transaction and void the gift cards and the manager will put the new transaction through.

So she starts. And the machine won’t read the gift cards, so it can’t void them, so it can’t void the transaction. (Note, they couldn’t just ISSUE ME WITH A $300 REFUND, oh no). After about 5 minutes and a call to the help desk, it starts to work. They blame the EFTPOS system but I can’t see how the EFTPOS system could be responsible when these transactions ARE NOT GOING TO THE BANK THEY ARE JUST GOING FROM THE DAMN GIFT CARDS. Ahem. I valiantly try not to show frustration and paste a smile on my face.

Eventually, all the cards are cancelled. I get my $3300 refund and wonder how my bank is going to feel about all this. And I hope that the refund is applied TODAY so I don’t suck on interest for all this. And I feel very glad that I used my credit card and not my debit card, so this is not yet real money and the bank will have a chance to sort it all out eventually, if needed.

Now Bozo the original helpful highly trained customer service staff member really hits high gear: She tries to RE-LOAD value onto the gift cards. The single use, now voided gift cards. 

Manager steps in and I move to a new counter, leaving Fraser with her as we also wanted to buy ballet tickets to see Angelina Ballerina. OMG The Real One. Somehow this stops happening and she starts dealing with other customers. We are not toooooo upset.

Meanwhile, Manager processes the new gift cards. Otto is by now completely feral and is running around trying to escape, barefoot, into the Land of Christmas Ornaments. Bigster is alternately whining and dobbing on her sister. Which would be helpful except for the aforementioned whining. And dobbing.

Manager: I am so sorry about this. Thank you for being so understanding.

Me: *laugh* I told my husband we had to come here, because the transaction would be quicker and simpler than at a regular register.

Manager: Actually, we are the only place in the shop where you can get the bonus gift cards.

That’s right. These people were the experts.

Manager rings up the purchase price: $2800. 

Me: Something’s wrong.

Manager: Oh no, I rang one up as $300 instead of $500.

Me: Can you just add a $200 card to the transaction?

Manager: No, it’s finalised. I’ll just do another separate transaction for the $200

Me: (slowly and with great care) But then I won’t get the bonus for the last $500, because it is split over 2 transactions?

Manager: (panicked) Oh. No. No, I can do it anyway. It’s okay.

Me, Fraser and Manager: *big sigh of relief*. The prospect of having to rinse and repeat was scary.

By the time I got my gift vouchers, it was after 3:15. 

Then we had to get the tickets for Angelina Ballerina. Which we did, without too much ado. And I paid for them with one of the gift cards. Which was labelled $200.

After I paid for the tickets, she put a sticker on the gift cardto tell me how much value was left on it. I had paid $140 for the ballet tickets, so I had $160 left on the card.

Fraser opened his mouth. I trod on his foot and dragged him out of the gift card service area. It was simply not worth discussing.

It took him a moment to realise why I had paid for the ballet tickets with the gift card: I was just wanting to make sure that they actually worked.

Fortunately, the traffic jam in the car park had cleared. We got straight out. I am not sure what I would have done if we had not but it might not have been pretty. It also occurred to me that they were kind of lucky that I was buying the gift cards and not Fraser, who has a somewhat shorter patience span and politeness threshold than I do. And not anyone else in the world, who probably has a shorter patience span and politeness threshold than he does. Because: AN HOUR AND TEN MINUTES to buy gift cards???? WTF???

We got to the first party at 4. It was still bucketing with rain.

We did not make it to the second party.

I had a headache and went to bed, leaving Fraser to heat frozen pizza for the kids.

It is now 1am. I no longer have a headache, but it is still bucketing with rain.

I am hoping that the gift cards *work*.

Meanwhile, we told the story to my brother, who works in Merchant Fraud for one of the big 4 banks. As in, preventing merchant fraud. He went pale with rage.

They have had a major program working with this store, as gift cards are a major source of fraud. So the store have agreed to sight photo ID for every gift card purchase over $150. There has been a major training campaign around this.

Notice anything missing from my detailed story of pain?

That’s right. No ID. None requested, none sighted. For a purchase of over $3000 in gift cards.


1 Comment

Posted by on December 14, 2008 in rant, shopping


One response to “The Sofa Thickens and the Season is Merry (and frustrating)

  1. Friendless

    December 16, 2008 at 11:14 am

    I am one of those people you guys are much more patient than. I hope your fraud succeeds, you deserve it :-).


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