Well, they tried. They really tried. And in a sense, I suppose they succeeded. They certainly raped me of my time, but not my money. My victory, if I can call it that, is marred by exhaustion and aggravation that lingers even now, hours after the ordeal.
Note: Although I have nothing against it, I'm not much of a "blogger blogger," if that makes sense. I don't spout about my day, or my life, or what I eat for breakfast. I save that for emails. Sometimes not even then. I generally keep my mouth shut, and let my written pieces speak for me, should anyone be listening. However, today I told a tale to no less than 5 people. It was the same tale, and it was told over a period of 3+ hours. This tale filled me with fire that made my mind a diamond. Well, eventually. The initial shock of the attempted rape had me staggering blind for a while, but I came out of it. Incendiary.
I'll begin at the beginning.
I've never owned a new computer. I've subsisted on hand-me-downs and used computers scavenged from Craigslist for years. I can't complain. They've served me well. For the longest time I resisted even the internet, using my ancient machines simply as word processors. I've always been a firm believer in paper, stamps, and the Post Office.
Early rejections came in the mail as slips of paper. I've made bookmarks out of all of them. The process was slow, and often painstaking, but there was a certain integrity to it that still swirls inside me today. Mailing actual letters to people was, and remains, a pure joy.
But, like many or most, I finally buckled. I got online. I began submitting my work electronically. It took some getting used to, but I found my comfort zone, and now it's hard to believe I once wasted so much paper. Was it a waste? I don't know. Maybe not. Debate for another day...
My last computer was an old clunker with 15 GB of hard drive. What? Yeah, 15 GB. Not a typo. It was slow as shit, but it got the job done. I drove it up until a few days ago, when I buckled yet again and decided to shit some money and buy a new computer.
I'd been keeping an eye on the fliers. I'd been keeping an eye on Best Buy. When a good deal (well, what I considered a good deal) popped up, I jumped on it. The original plan was to buy it directly from the store, but I figured I'd flex some modern prowess and buy the mother online, then just pick it up at the store. So I did. I bought it online. Then picked it up at the store.
It was a package deal. It was a sale item. Computer and monitor bundle deal. Sweet little machine. Fast as all hell (to me). 320 GB of hard drive. Lightning. Amazing. I brought it home, wired it up, then fired it up.
The monitor was cracked in the left corner, a jagged, festering crack of a crack that drove me nuts. Not visible until you turned the monitor on. Awesome. But no big deal, I thought. Sure, a modest annoyance, but nothing a quick swap at the store won't solve.
So I boxed it up and brought back to Best Buy this morning, where the attempted rape came with great boldness and alacrity. I wasn't ready for it. Maybe I should have been.
When the girl handed me my new receipt, I was credited $26. I looked at it a few times. She was already wandering off doing something else.
"Excuse me. I don't understand this. Why am I only being credited $26?"
She came over and took the receipt.
"When you return a sale item that was purchased online, you lose the sale price. We charged you full price for the computer, and this is the difference for the returned monitor."
I looked at it again. I still didn't know they were trying to rape me.
"So, can I get a replacement monitor now?"
The question seemed to surprise her. She pointed toward the back of the store.
"The monitors are back there. You can pick whatever you like."
"And I have to buy it?"
I could feel my anger rising like the tides of Pillor beneath the electrical skies of Zigmundt(reference to Pooh in Meatspace. Read it today!).
"So," I said, leaning close, trying to invite some confidence, trying to garner an ally within the system, now feeling the cold hands of Best Buy on my shoulders while something else slapped against the back of my jeans. "Let me get this straight: I bought a new computer online. I picked it up here. The monitor was damaged. I brought the monitor back. Now I'm being charged full price for the computer, and I have to buy a replacement monitor out of my own pocket?"
"I'm sorry," she said. "There's nothing we can do here at the store. Purchases online are completely different than in the store."
It was early. The store was pretty dead. Lots of sleepy employees walking around. Maybe she cared but wasn't in my zone yet, and despite my posturing appeals to her humanity, it was becoming increasingly and painfully clear that I was fast becoming the victim. So I fell to frustration.
"This is dirty business," I said in a hard whisper. "This isn't right. Why am I being penalized for something over which I had no control? I received the monitor damaged."
She backed up, all hands and glasses.
"I'm sorry," she said. "Call 1-888-BESTBUY. There's nothing we can do at the store regarding online purchases."
Staggering rage. I stormed to the back and grabbed the first blue shirt that got in my path.
"Where are the 20 inch HP monitors?"
He guided me to them with no words. Perhaps he'd heard my conversation with the worthless customer service clerk through his toolish headset. He pulled out a box and I took it. I went back to the front. As I approached the girl who had doled out the onset of my rape, she quickly diverted me to another clerk, then disappeared through flapping plastic curtains that looked like over-sized linguine. I reckon they want to offer some kind of warehouse appearance, but I'm not sure why. I wouldn't trust a single Best Buy employee on a forklift. They'd probably kill each other. Hm.
I bought the monitor. With money out of my own pocket. No exchange. No zero effect. In retrospect, I coughed up the money like an idiot, thinking an angry call to 1888BESTBUY would cure everything expeditiously. So stupid. But what was I going to do? Go back home without a monitor?
I ranted to a friend on the ride home. He laughed.
"Google it sometime," he told me. "Best Buy is notorious for dirty tactics like this."
That was awesome. Great to hear that. My experience with buying a brand new computer was being sullied at an alarming rate. When I got back home, I hooked up the new monitor and gave it a thorough once-over. Then I gave it another once-over. Then another. Then, satisfied I hadn't picked up a lemon, I lined up all my receipts and my bank card. I called 1888BESTBUY.
I pushed 1 for English.
I pushed 3 to speak to a live person.
I spoke to a live person.
I told her my tale quickly, again trying to push through their protocol armor with phrases like,
"Do you believe this?"
"This is outrageous. Do you feel me?"
The thread of underlying sympathy was there, but I could feel another wall coming my way.
"Okay," she said. "Let me direct you to someone who can handle this. But I must warn you: We've been having problems with the line today, so if your call is lost, call back in 35 minutes."
Yet another good omen. Maybe they knew I was going to call. They're all linked. Conspiracy.
She transferred my call to a raging busy signal. I hung up and pounded a glass of milk. I paced for a while. I ground my teeth. I called back, got another phone loser, told my tale again, got transferred successfully, told my tale again, gave out my personal phone number.
"The credit department will receive your issue and contact you," said the man.
"What? What do you mean? They're going to call me?"
"Well, what kind of window can I expect to receive the call?"
I wanted to choke him.
"Listen, what if I miss the call? What then?"
"You'll have to call back and set up a better time to reach you."
Fuming. Rape rape rapage runaround. Too much. It's comical now, but at the time I wanted to crush people.
"No," I said. "This is pure nonsense. This is no good. Who can I talk to today, right now, that can handle this? Give me a direct number to the credit department. I don't have time for this."
"I'm sorry, sir," he said, his tone inflected with those minuscule traces of apathetic sympathy borne through countless hours of dealing with attempted rape victims such as myself. "I don't have that number."
I gasped. Did I believe him? Maybe. Maybe not. He whined a bit more about how there was nothing he could do and that my only option was to wait for the call.
I thanked him. I'd been saying "thank you" to every moron I spoke to in the hopes of breaking through to that one elusive inside ally I knew existed. It wasn't the phone jerk, but I knew there was someone out there who could push the fucking magic button and make it all better.
I called the store.
I told my tale again.
They gave me static, more runaround, but they were my last option and I wasn't going anywhere until I made some real headway. After a botched transfer, I finally got the store manager on the line. I should've started there, earlier, when I was at the store and Best Buy was tugging at my jeans like an aggressive drunk in the back of a shitty barroom. But I was reeling then, stupid. I wasn't anymore.
"Have you been briefed on my situation?" I asked. I didn't want to repeat it again.
"Yes," said a deep, calm voice.
"What can you do for me?"
"Do you have all of your receipts and paperwork?"
"Yes. In my hand."
"You'll have to come back to the store."
"I'll be there in 15 minutes. Will you be there, or will you be out to lunch?"
"I'll be here," he said. "We'll take care of this."
Finally, a comrade.
"Thank you. You're the best person I've talked to all day."
I made sure I got his name. Then I drove back to the store.
It was past noon now, and the store was busy. I asked the man by the door where Terrance the manager was. He pointed to a tall black man a few feet from me. I tapped him on the shoulder.
"Excuse me? Terrance?"
He turned and I offered my hand. He shook it.
"Mel Bosworth. We just spoke on the phone."
"Do you have your receipts?"
I waved them proudly like a set of gold medals I'd won at the Best Buy Olympics. The events: Shit Eating, Shit Eating...and, well--Shit Eating. It's such a big event it counts as three.
He took them and asked me to follow him to the customer service counter. My old friend from earlier was there. She gave me a fast glance and nothing more. Terrance handed her the receipts, then coached her through a series of button pushing. They spoke in hushed words. The vibe I got was that they wanted to hook me up somehow. At least that's what I thought. I reiterated that all I wanted was the money back I'd spent at the store today, although an additional gift certificate would've been nice.
But when it was all said and done, they passed me a fistful of cash (since I'd bought the monitor with a debit card) and assured me that the $26 from the initial return would be credited to my account within 2-3 business days. Ha. They also passed me back all of my receipts which I will guard with my life for the next 14 days.
After some quick math, I put myself ahead about $5, but only once the $26 drops into my account. It better drop.
I wanted the two of them to share in my excitement of having slipped from the grubby mitts of Best Buy's scumbag upper echelon. But they just grinned, somewhat disconnected, perhaps too weighted down and desensitized by the unethical plight of their superiors that they, as mere minions, must carry out. I try not to hate them. In all honesty, I don't. They are just worker bees. Worker bees who've made their career choice. Underhandedness runs deep in any corporation. It's hard to blame the lower level entirely, but they're certainly enablers. But they've got to pay the bills too. Is that a good excuse? Again, debate for another day.
I texted my friend when I got to the car.
"What did you have to do?"
"I had to kill a hooker."
"Atta boy! Way to stick it to The Man!"
I got home, again. I sat in my chair, face in hands. It had taken me nearly 4 hours to return a monitor. It had taken me nearly 4 hours to come out, potentially, $5 bucks ahead.
I didn't win. Not really. They paid for my gas to get to the store and back, but the time was gone. Lost and gone forever. But the computer system was whole. I just had to hook up my old printer.
I pulled out the Windex and the paper towels and cleaned up my old reliable printer so it looked shiny and new. I wanted it to look proper sitting next to my brand new computer. I've had this particular printer for a few years, and I'm a big fan of it. I also dropped $35 on fresh ink recently.
When I turned the computer to find the printer port, my eyes narrowed, and I laughed.
My printer isn't compatible with this computer. I have to buy a new printer. Maybe I'll have better luck at Target. I'll be sure to bring my rape whistle.