This week we’re supposed to write about a time when I’ve been duped or tricked by a retail outlet. I gave this a lot of thought, but I really had a difficult time coming up with an example of a business that actually cheated me. I suppose that’s because I rarely shop. And I tend to shrug things off more easily than some people, so maybe what some people would complain about I would attribute to a lack of understanding on my part. I suppose I like to think the best of people.
So I started to think about times when what I got didn’t seem to jive with what I thought I’d get. Almost all of them were instances when I ordered by mail. I learned my lesson quite early – no clothes shopping or purchasing of items if I can’t feel, touch, smell, or otherwise examine them before purchasing. I still order a lot of things online – but they’re usually things like office supplies, oboe reeds (from a supplier I’ve purchased from in person and trust), and gifts that my kids or grandkids have chosen and have sent me the links for.
So when have I been misled about what I was purchasing? The first time I recall this I was in my late twenties and wanted to present my new mother-in-law with a nice Christmas gift. I happened across a flyer showing a picture of a lovely stained glass Tiffany-style oil lamp at an astonishingly affordable price. The lamp in the picture was artfully arranged, on a reading table with a nice leather bound book next to it. I knew this was the gift to get me in good graces with my in-laws. I filled out the forms, wrote a check, and mailed them in (this is in the days before online shopping). A few weeks later a box arrived, containing a tiny plastic lamp. Plastic??!! I couldn’t recall any mention of plastic. It didn’t seem logical to have an oil-burning lamp made of a material that could melt. Of course, I couldn’t find the ad, and I didn’t keep the information on the package. I just threw the thing away and bought her something else.
I’ve also been disappointed whenever buying clothing by mail or online. Even when I buy apparel made for petite women I have to shorten dresses and slacks, and my waistline is several inches larger than the manufacturers think it should be. Since I don’t enjoy holding my breath all day, I don’t choose to purchase those items. But just once, I wish I could look like the women in the catalogs! If only the clothes could make me look so elegant and well-groomed and… Oh, well. Guess I’d better stick to the local stores.
High-end restaurants often have me shaking my head. I don’t mind paying for quality, but there have been times when I’ve questioned how the establishment justified their prices on things, especially on desserts. My father once took me to a fancy restaurant for my birthday (well, it was fancy to our family) and he allowed me to order a dessert. After reading the descriptions I thought I was getting a luscious chocolate creation. I got THREE tiny chocolate spheres – no more than an inch in diameter. Yes, they were tasty. But I felt sooooo cheated. I guess that’s why wealthy people tend to be so thin. They’re used to paying big bucks for not much food.
So there it is. I don’t feel I’ve been duped, cheated, or misled by corporate America, mostly because I tend to buy things I know about or things that people I trust have recommended to me. And I think I live fairly simply.
How do you keep from being cheated?