Monday, December 25, 2006

Xmas Vacation

Well... It's that time of year again. Everyone gets crazy, and I get lazy. Not celebrating Christmas has it's perks -- especially when it comes to the cash outlay.

Actually, I'm in Louisville, Kentucky right now sitting in a Waffle House on Christmas morning. It's packed.

I'm here with Chris Perry, a good friend of mine. We came up Friday for the Winter Family Weekend -- a big event put on by the church every year. They have Bible studies, seminars, dances, events, and a LOT of sports. It's going from Friday through Wednesday, although I'm only staying until Tuesday morning. Chris and I have to get back in time to see the Houston Aeros play hockey Tuesday night.

Anyway... It's been a fun trip so far. We've racked up a lot of hours at one of the BW3s here (going Friday, Saturday, and Sunday). They're closed today (christmas) so we won't have wings today.

Yesterday we had breakfast in Indianna. We wanted Cracker Barrel, so we just kept driving until we hit one. Kind of odd to have to go to another state for breakfast. Oh well... It was cool.

Breakfast has arrived... So I'm out.

David L Good

Sent from my BlackBerry Wireless Handheld

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Gift Cards Stink

Why is it that so many people purchase gift cards? Because they "care" but aren't sure what the person really wants? Isn't that a good reason to just give them cash? I know I'd appreciate cash. You would too, I bet.

So why do so many people think that cash is a bad gift? "Because it shows no thought at all. It's not personal." Really? And a gift card is? Give me a break!! A gift card for Home Depot, for example, is supposed to be the same as cash... only you can't spend it anywhere you like. That's like giving someone one hundred Euros. It's like cash, but you can only spend it in Europe.

Think people, think!! Forget what you've been taught... as it's all a lie that we keep circulating. Everyone says cash is a bad gift, but find me one person that would toss it in the trash after getting it -- or take the wad of cash and let it sit in the garage under some big heavy boxes for years on end -- or re-wrap it and give it as a gift to someone else. It's the PERFECT gift. So why do we believe that it's not a "thoughtful gift"? Because that's what "everyone else says." Really? Do you realize that everyone else is saying it only because they believe that's what everyone else believes? You see... we're all following some sort of "code" of gift-giving, yet no one out there really knows the source of this "rule." We just blindly follow it because that's what everyone else is doing... and everyone else is blindly following it because they think that's what everyone else is doing. It's a loop of insanity that needs to be broken.

Also, you don't need to register at some crappy department store to get the gift of cash. Why? Because it doesn't matter if everyone gives you the same thing. You're not going to be disappointed at Uncle Bob's gift of cash just because someone else already gave you the gift of cash. It's wonderful. Plus, cash can travel everywhere... it fits in your pocket, and can fold up nicely to go wherever you go. You can even take wads of it to the bank and still use it through your bank card. Show me a program as sweet as that... that's free! You can't. Only the sweet gift of cash can bring this much joy and connivence into your life.

"Okay, Dave. I get your point. But I know Mark is really into hand tools and power sanders... so what's the harm in getting him a Home Depot gift card?" Because you're limiting Mark to Home Depot choices. What if Mark needs to buy gas in his car more than he needs a new sander? The gift is still cool, but he'll have to get someone to drive him there to pick it up.

Some of the biggest things I hate about Gift Cards:

1 - They're NOT the same as cash. Many of them have limitations on when/where/how you can use them.
You can not take a gift card to a shop and have it exchanged for cash. If you get a $100 gift card from Home Depot you would think that you could take that gift card into Home Depot and get cash for it, right? WRONG!! Even Home Depot doesn't respect the gift card as an equal to cash. You HAVE to buy something from Home Depot in order to use the card.

2 - You have to spend MORE than the value of the card in order to maximize it's face value.
Have you ever been in this situation: You get a gift card at the Faberge Gift Shop for $350,000.00. You walk into the shop and see a nice Faberge Egg that you'd really love to have. It is a work of art, and has all the necessary jewels encrusted to make you smile. The egg is marked down at a bargain price of only $349,900.00 (with tax). WOW!! What luck. You use the gift card and walk out of the store. It's at that time you realize, "Hey... I've still got $100.00 left on this gift card. But there is nothing at the Faberge shop that sells for less than $100.00. What do I do?" Well... it looks like you just got screwed. Well, the person who purchased the gift card for you just got screwed, rather. It's no skin off your nose. So what do you do?

This is a common scam that stores pull. In order to use all of the gift money on the Faberge gift card you would have to purchase something that was exactly one hundred dollars, or more. The store wins... because if you buy another egg, they're going to get another $349,800.00 out of you. What a WIN!!! But if you don't buy another egg, the remaining $100 on the gift card is useless... so you pretty much just toss the card. The store wins AGAIN!!! You just gave the STORE the gift of $100 FREE DOLLARS!!!

Can you see why this is starting to suck? If the original person just gave you $350,000.00 in cash then you'd both be happy, and the retail stores wouldn't be fatter than they need to be. If you want the egg, then the Faberge store will be more than happy to take your money -- but they're not going to get a dime more than they need to. If you don't want an egg, you can pocket the cash or just go get a new boat or something. Or just invest it and turn it into the gift that keeps on giving.

To be fair, there are more and more stores that are getting away from this policy. I don't know of ANY that will give you the cash value for a gift card, but many of them will give you "change" for what is left on the card if you come close to the face value. There are various rules and limitations all over the place, so you really have to read the fine print.

3 - The Cards Devalue Over Time.
What? The cards DE-value?? Wha??? Yes, folks -- you heard correct. You see, many cards (again, not all) actually CHARGE YOU INTEREST on the value of the card if you don't use the card within a specified period of time. Can you believe that? They CHARGE you for giving them CASH for a gift card!! If this were a poker game, someone would have been shot already.

So.... I get this card from a friend for some store (I don't even remember any more). And I don't use the card for about a year and a half. When I finally remember that I have this card, for some crappy store I only go into every other year, I take the card to the store and purchase some cool things with it. The card was for $100.00, so I found some items that, with tax, would cost somewhere in the $92-$97 range. The clerk rings up the items and I hand him the card and he informs me that there is not enough money left on the card for my purchase. What? Well... how much was the purchase? "$98.27," he tells me. "But it's a $100.00 gift card, and I haven't used it once," I tell the man. We were both pretty perplexed, and I had no clue what was going on. The only thing the guy could offer me was, "maybe you used it and forgot about using it?" I just looked at him for a few seconds and asked him, "what in the world do you sell in this store that only costs $1.73 after tax??" He didn't have an answer.

Well... the answer became obvious later. As it turns out, after a period of time the store was deducting what they called "interest" off the card. In other words, if I didn't use the card quickly they would actually CHARGE me for allowing them to hold on to my friends CASH that he used to purchase the card. Can you believe that crap??

A lot of cards are that way. Granted, a year and a half is a long time to use a card, but that's another reason why I don't like gift cards. I don't go into every store every day, or even every week... and will I remember to bring the card? I don't want to be hoisting 20 pounds of gift card plastic in my pockets every day just for the slim chance that I might need to go into a Bed, Bath & Beyond to purchase some crappy off-white hand towel. So, the cards sit at home for a "planned visit." Naturally, when I do need something I just go straight from work, or during lunch... which means I never get to use the card.

Either way -- they're charging YOU for money your friend already gave them. That's like buying a gift, say a blender, for someone. Well... maybe they're not in the blending mood, so they stick the blender in a corder on the counter. Now... imagine charging them a FEE every single month that they don't use that blender. That wouldn't be a very cool gift, now would it? No.

4 - "Same as cash" doesn't mean "Same as cash."
Ever get those cool "movie bucks" from a friend? Or win them on the radio? Or get them from your boss? Or, maybe you purchased theater gift cards. Some of them come in booklet form, or they look like cartoon money. Those suck big time!!! The next time you give someone one of those I hope you get smacked hard. Why? Because, you give the theater $20.00. They give you a book of "gift certificates" or "movie bucks" or whatever that CLAIM to be $20.00 in value... but they may as well have given you standby tickets for every movie out there. Why? Because, if you read the fine print (depending on if they're movie ticket cards, or movie bucks cards) you can NOT use the gift card for "prime movies." Guess what? Except for "The Neverending Story" that's playing at the small theater at the end of the hall, ALL of the movies are "prime." Anything that's a new release in the theater is "prime" or anything that's considered a box office hit is labeled as "prime." You have to wait six-to-ten weeks for a "prime" movie to become acceptable for use with your gift card. By that time, you've either paid to see it with cash, or you might as well wait one more week and just see it in the dollar theater. What's the point?

And those movie bucks? You might as well be giving me Canadian money, because all those freshly-hired non-trained employees always look at you like some retarded counterfeiter when you try to buy popcorn with their movie bucks. Obviously, learning how to identify the theater's own promotional items is not part of the crash course in training new employees. After a manager comes by they sometimes restrict what you can buy, or how many movie bucks you can use at a time, or even if you get change back for them. I've had all those scenarios happen and the ONLY way out of it is if you toss a big fit in front of everyone directly at the manager. At that point, they'll give you whatever you want just to not cause problems in front of all the other customers. And I HATE doing that. I'd almost rather just walk out and take my loss than have to act like an ass to the manager. But sometimes you just have to stand up for what is right. Otherwise you'll always be treated like a sucker, as will everyone else. So you're really doing everyone a favor by standing your ground. Of course, by doing this you're automatically no longer in the mood to see whatever movie you wanted to see, so either way you lose.

Okay... that's about all I have time for right now. I've got a dozen other reasons why gift cards are bad, and cash is good... but if those top ones don't make you see the light of day, nothing will. You are hopelessly lost and are the victim of the world's views. If everyone in the world hated Jews, you probably would as well. Get a backbone... don't believe "everyone else" because they're all thinking that some "expert" came up with the gift card rule, and that's why they're following it. Truth be told, it was marketing people that came up with the gift card idea. Why? Because they instantly get your money, don't have to restock shelves, and there is always a chance that you'll lose the card (100% bonus for the store); or you'll sit on the card (bonus for the store as they depreciate the worth of the card); or you won't be able to spend all of the money on the card (bonus for the store as they get the "change" -- multiply that by the millions of people who don't spend the full amount and you have a multi-billion dollar business); or you'll spend OVER the amount on the card just to use it all up (bonus for the store because they've made additional sales off you when you normally wouldn't have purchased from them).

CASH PEOPLE... CASH. Or booze. Either is a fine gift.

Idiot Me

Okay... so I'm updating the Mr. Fruggs and Pugitta website by adding a post about Shane's Birthday and I accidentally deleted the MeetIn page section.

That really stinks. Of course, I still have all the master content and I can always recreate the section... but it's just a pain. The title section will have to be recreated, as that's what I accidentally replaced. Oh well... I guess I need to pay closer attention the next time I'm working on those things. The funny thing is, that's the ONE index page I DIDN'T have a backup for. Ironic.

Monday, December 11, 2006

It's new.

Well... since I can only update my Mr. Fuggs and Pugitta website blog when I'm A) at home; B) in the mood; C) have loads of free time; I've decided to start up my Blogger account. This way I can at least update my blog whenever I feel like it, and from anywhere in the world with an internet connection.

Another thing that looks interesting is the new service they're offering. If you register, you can take photos with your cell phone, type a description and/or send a bunch of text to the eMail and it will automatically get posted to your Blogger page. This means I can be blogging from anywhere -- thanks to my trusty BlackBerry (although it doesn't take photos).