Tuesday, February 23, 2010

May I have my reward, please?

  I have a Staples reward card. I get a few pennies back for every purchase I make at Staples. It is a free promotion and seemed like a good deal at the time. Most of merchandise that Staples sells is more expensive that Wal-Mart or Amazon, but their print shop gives excellent service and sometimes they have some very good specials and close-outs. I almost bought a computer for our church’s raffle prize last year, but as soon as I told the clerk what computer I wanted, he explained to me that the computer was really just a piece of junk that HP wouldn’t stand behind and I would be well advised to purchase the extended 3 year warranty directly from Staples. I thanked the clerk and got the same computer on-line for less money and only a 1 year warranty.

  Last Friday after I drove home 60 miles in the snowstorm, I stopped in the Staples on the way home. My mouse and flash drive were both going bad and I wanted new ones. It is extremely frustrating to be winning a game of chess on the Internet only to lose on time because your mouse quit working. I found a Microsoft wireless mouse and a SanDisk Flash drive for $15 each. Both were the same models I had and I was delighted at the good price. When I got to the checkout, I remembered that I had received a statement saying that I had $13 in Staples rewards a few weeks ago. I asked the clerk if I could use it and she said that I’d have to being in the statement. I went to the manager and was told the same story. I asked what would happen if I couldn’t find the statement (they expire after awhile) and was told I could print a new one off the Internet. I asked if I could print it at the store as long as I was there and was told the store did not have Internet access. Right.....I told the manager that I wish Staples would make it as easy for me to use my rewards as it did for me to spend my money. I did not feel like driving across town and back to find the statement and paid for the merchandise with a credit card and will accumulate more rewards I’ll probably never use.

  A new type of reward is President Obama’s rebates for buying new energy efficient appliances. It reminds me of the cash for clunkers. I didn’t think too much of that program. I owned a Chevy Aveo (30mpg) and it wasn’t inefficient enough to be a clunker. Previously, I had owned 2 Geo Metros (45mpg) and a Chevy Cavalier(30mpg). Instead of being rewarded for consistently helping the environment with my automobile choices, I’ve gotten to watch the SUV crowd reap the rewards for temporarily setting aside their gas-guzzling ways. Do you really think when they get a little money or credit that they won’t trade in their efficient car for the current incarnation of the Hummer? Rewarding poor behavior only teaches people that poor behavior gets a reward. The more Iran is offered to stop their enrichment of uranium, the more they know they will be offered if they continue the enrichment.

  I’d like to see taxes on tobacco products settlements from the tobacco company lawsuits go directly to people who don’t smoke. If you are a smoker and want some extra cash, just quit smoking you will start getting checks. We could fund all the non-smokers retirement accounts with the cash. Every deposit would be held for 5 years to make sure we haven’t just stopped smoking for a few months to get some cash. There could even be a bonus for people who have never smoked. This is the right way to legislate behavior if one insists on doing so.

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