Monday, January 19, 2009


The movie Network was one of the items on my Christmas wish list. As it turns out, I received two copies, one from Katie and one from my sister. Procrastinator that I am, the two have just sat there all this time waiting for me to return one of them. Since Katie said she bought her copy at Borders, whereas my sister ordered it from Amazon, I figured it would be easier to return the one to Borders and see if I could exchange it for something.

I didn't know which copy came from which store; I looked at them both and they seemed identical so I chose one and took a short trip to Borders at the Santa Anita Mall. I had called the day before and asked if I could return it without a receipt and was told normally they didn't allow it but I could ask a manager when I brought it in.

First thing that happened when we walked in the store was the security alarm started beeping. I must have brought back the Amazon copy with me because I doubt they would desensitize the enclosed security device inside the case if it was being mailed out. Right away I felt like a criminal.

Just so they would see I hadn't been wandering around the store, I quickly got in line and then asked the clerk about an exchange. He said the store policy didn't allow them to accept anything without a receipt. I mentioned the phone conversation I had and so he called the manager over. She punched in the numbers from the case, came back and said they would make an exception this time but next time I would need a receipt. I was given a Border's gift card. I was pretty amazed; what cost $10 from Amazon was $26.99 at Borders!

I thanked them and went to go peruse the store for something to get in exchange. Finally I settled on a blu-ray copy of Dark Knight, marked $35.99. So it was another $10 more - that was still a good deal compared to what I'd have to pay for it without the credit. I took it up to the desk, the clerk rang it up and apparently it was on sale for $29.99. I ended up shelling out an extra $3.00, not a bad deal at all.

Even though everything I did was legit, I still felt guilty about the whole thing, as though I was trying to pull a fast one on them. But then I thought, if they really sold the Network DVD for $26.99, that's kind of like pulling a fast one on people who bought that because how many regular DVD's do you see these days that cost that much?

Anyway, the clerk was nice about it - he kind of looked like Chevy Chase. He bade me a good morning instead of saying "goodnight, and have a pleasant tomorrow," and I took my new loot out of the store. Still, I felt dirty.

After that, while Julie went to J.C. Penney, a store in which I find absolutely nothing of interest, I went to Suncoast Video to browse and discovered a near empty store. They were going out of business and were selling what little junk was left for 50% off and the fixtures as well.

There were lots of vacant spaces in the mall and lots of sales going on. You can see the hard times in the economy just from walking around. Given the price difference between buying DVD's at full-price places like Suncoast or Borders versus the low prices at internet retailers like Amazon, not to mention the savings in sales tax, it's going to be tough for any of these brick and mortar places to survive.

Later on in the day I went to Target and finally used a $50 gift card I had won at our company's 2007 dinner dance (actually Christmas party but we can't call it that) on TaxCut software to do my tax return. I hated paying full price ($49.95) but otherwise since Julie nor me hardly ever shop there, it would probably never get used. And these days, holding onto gift cards is a risky propositon.

Not a bad day bargain-wise.. Dark Knight on blu ray for $3.00 and Tax Cut federal and state tax software for $4.00.

Here's something to think about. According to Yahoo Answers, about 135 million people filed tax returns in 2005, of which nearly 100 million actually ended up paying income taxes (i.e., 35 million got all their taxes refunded). Wikipedia says in 2007 there were about 138 million who filed returns but it doesn't say how many actually ended up with a net tax liability for the year.

Now think about that $700 billion in bailout money. If that was given back to the 100 million or so people who actually paid taxes, that amounts to $7,000 per person. If we gave $7,000 each to 100 million people in this country, don't you think that would stimulate the economy far more than wasting it on the stupid bozos who ran their companies into the ground and have no shame holding out their hands asking for more??? $7,000 would make a nice down payment on a reliable car instead of giving billions away to a manufacturer who makes junk.

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