Sunday, November 02, 2008

Egads, I've Been Hoodwinked!

I guess I'm not very observant…and I've always prided myself on the fact that I am. I was hoodwinked in broad daylight and walked out of the store, over-charged and didn't realize it until the next day. I was at the Payless Shoe Store on Garth Road and seeing that my favorite pair of down-at-the-heel tennies are beginning to look like something Forrest Gump wore in the opening scene of said movie, I decided to get another pair of twenty-two dollar Payless sneakers.

Now in my defense, I had just left the San Jacinto Hospital after a serious scare by someone dear to me and was just a tad distracted, to put it mildly. In fact, this is why I stopped to peruse the shoe options. I needed a distraction and this was the perfect excuse and opportunity. Instead of going for the ever popular old dude with the Michael Jordon look, I opted to purchase a pair of soft leather lace-up hiking/work boots, as I have been thinking my off-the-path trekking might benefit from something sturdier than my twenty-two dollar synthetic sneakers afforded.

Arriving at the casa, grin on my face and boots in tow, I began to puzzle over my receipt and noticed I was charge five whole bucks more than the boots actually cost (and still plan to tender the receipt back at the store for recompense). This in itself is no great amount, as stuff like this occasionally happens at almost any store, or so I thought at the time.

Two days later I made an after work stop at the local Wal-Mart with every intention of purchasing the EAS Carb-control protein drinks I consume each morning and a dozen containers of the microwavable soups that Campbell's offer. They are about a buck-fifty each at Wal-Mart and almost a dollar more everywhere else, so when I frequent Wal-Mart, I usually buy a bagful. The Chicken Corn Chowder and the Mexican Tortilla flavors are my favorites, cause they're delish.

Well, wouldn't you know there were no available grocery carts in reserve, even though there were a great number of carts lined up in various places in the parking lot (with no evidence they were in the process of being returned to the staging area). I spoke to the unthreatening greeter person at the door and asked about the carts and they did an Academy Award winning imitation of Ben Stein and said "No carts". Ugh!

So, I find myself in a long line of folks at one of the five open registers (it's 4:30pm) holding four four-packs of the EAS protein drinks and successfully resisted the feral urge to go through one of the six open self-service registers. It's finally my turn and I swipe my debit card (who decided this word swipe didn't mean steal?) and read the question "Is your cashier friendly? Yes or No", on the little debit card machine window.

I look at the person checking my groceries and decide, "Hey, it is Halloween after all" and punching the Yes key, sigh. Using my elbows like Charles Barkley going after a rebound, I make my way back out to my hoopty and deduce I will have to make yet another stop at a convenience store to complete my must-have list, so I motor down and into the Super Stop Shell station at the corner of North Main Street and West Cedar Bayou Lynchburg Road.

In my normal no nonsense manner, I grab my items and wait for a fellow with grunting English make what I can only imagine was an extremely insightful and most likely prosperous pick of six different lottery quick-pick tickets. I am then told the total for my purchase is about seventy-five cents more than I know it should be. You see it's still fresh on my mind that I was over charged at Payless and this time I'm paying attention and have no intention of paying more than I should.

The fellow behind the counter corrected the amount I stated without so much as a question and then stared at me. I gave him a pretty dead-on mirror image right back and he finally offered "Well, would you like a bag for that?" and I said, "Uh, I guess I would". He bagged up my purchase and said, "Have a nice day".

As I motored off in my hoopty, it dawned on me that I should either go back and buy the winning Texas Mega lottery ticket - as the stars must be aligned just right for me to experience two separate over-charging rare occurrences in two days, or this is happening quite often to unsuspecting and unobservant shoppers. I think I'll skip the lotto ticket purchase and put my money on the later.

Doing a brief research on the Internet reveals the sad truth that this practice is very common to the tune of as much as ten per cent at some large chains. Now I admit, both incidents I experienced here in Baytown this week may have been innocent enough, but you can bet your sweet bippy, I'll be watching from now on when I make a purchase and I suggest you do the same.

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