Category Archives: saving money

My World and Welcome to it.

Republican Senator Ron Johnson may be the stupidest member of Congress (a difficult goal to achieve but he may, indeed, be the stupidest one of all time despite what you’ve read about Ted Cruz, Michele Bachmann, Todd Akin, and others).

Why am I painfully aware of this? Because he’s from Wisconsin, the state with which I also (as you may have guessed) have some small acquaintance.

In fact, he’s so stupid he even has his own website: ourdumbsenator.com, which induces sufficient astonished face palms to cause whiplash.

His latest display of Tea Party genius: using federal tax dollars to sue the federal government to make his office staff pay more for their health insurance. Then giving them raises (funded with federal tax dollars) to pay for the higher cost of coverage if his lawsuit is successful.

Because it’s all about protecting the taxpayer.

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Do you want fries with that?

That defender of free enterprise, that bastion of corporate capitalism, the esteemed  Wall Street Journal, just published an article detailing a longtime challenge facing McDonald’s: getting its workforce to provide service with a smile.

You read it first at the WSJ: breaking news none of the customers had ever suspected. No one who patronizes the restaurant chain could have known the dark truth that the employees might be “rude or unprofessional.”

The riveting exposé blows the lid off what’s happening behind the counter at McDonald’s: “service is broken.”

In a comprehensive industry comparison of customer service at fast-food chains, McDonald’s consistently tanked.

And of course it has nothing to do with keeping workers part-time, paying minimum wage and offering no benefits. People love jobs like that – especially when it means their skin is permanently saturated with the aroma of eau de fries and they get to wear greasy uniforms.

And of course management understands the problem is completely unrelated to lousy pay.

Nope, highly-paid upper management knows everyone is born with the passionate career goal of “Order Taker” under the bright yellow arches at the home of the revered “Big Mac.”

“The fast-food giant, whose restaurant sales in the U.S. began to slip last year, is pushing franchisees to improve staffing and service amid mounting complaints about rude employees.” Corporate HQ was shocked – shocked! – to learn that “customers find service ‘chaotic.’ “

“But achieving speed and friendliness of service across the chain has been a particularly elusive goal, at least in part because about 90% of McDonald’s restaurants in the U.S. are owned by independent operators.”

That’s right, folks, in a stunning tour de force of insightful analysis, the blame lies not with the company, but with the franchisees!

If only the corporation owned all the restaurants! Then lousy service would never be a problem!

McDonald’s declined to make executives available for interviews, and won’t publicly say what it will do to “address complaints,” other than giving top management more big increases in their compensation packages.

When learning that the reason behind the rise in customer complaints could be because customers now have ways to complain, including the email address on food packaging, the CEO immediately demanded who was the meathead who came up with that bright idea.

According to a memo sent to franchisees, the company is doing several things to improve service, such as providing electric shocks for employees who fail to smile and releasing flying monkeys to attack workers who forget to include ketchup packets in orders.

Under a new “dual point” ordering system that is being rolled out nationwide, the customer places an order at one end of the counter. When the order is ready, a “runner” will dash across a bed of hot coals to deliver it, thanking customers and begging them to come again because otherwise workers get an extra beating at the end of their shift.

“Dual point provides personalized one-on-one service. To the customer, we appear friendlier and better organized.”

Mythical Creatures

Tooth Fairy. Bigfoot. Hassle-free rebates.

Proctor and Gamble, that sexist Satan worshipping corporate alter-ego for the devil incarnate, offers rebates. Lots of rebates. They suck you into buying their stuff by offering you stuff in return. Good stuff like money and cookware.

And you believe it. (Cue evil laugh.)

It starts so innocently. And it’s so easy! Just buy an electron microscope, read the fine print on the rebate form, mail the completed form and required proofs of purchase to the P.O. box in Strongsville Ohio and, in a few short weeks, a set of highly desirable and exceedingly valuable cookware will be yours, free!

And you believe it.

Two weeks later, my envelope was returned to me marked “return to sender – no such address.”

I got out the microscope so I could read the contact number on the form. I called. The people at Proctor and Gamble said that was impossible.

After I explained I was Satan’s niece and could sniff out whoever had stamped “return to sender” on the envelope, they said I could fax or email it to them.

I faxed it, within minutes, writing “Attn: Karen” on it with my phone number, as I was directed.

A few days later, I found a message on my answering machine from Theresa telling me that she understood I wanted to submit my rebate via fax so call her back to arrange it.

Which of course I already had done.  And of course the only way Theresa could have my number was if she had received my fax.

I decided, despite possessing Satanic powers, to just scan all the rebate materials and email them.

The next day, I received an email from “Sade” at P&G Promotions, addressed to “Dear Minnesota Wit.”

Yes, you are correct. My name – which is clearly written on everything – is not Minnesota Wit.

Sade promised she had received my “information and will send it over to Special Handling. This process will take 3-5 weeks to get the rebate sent out to you.”

Thirteen weeks later, I started to wonder where it was.

Phone call #1: We have no record of you submitting anything.

Phone call #2: We received your submission, but it was never processed. No, we don’t know why and we have no way of ever learning why someone stuck your submission in a drawer and never processed it. We’ve never heard of “Sade.” Or “Karen.” Or “Theresa.” And we ran out of cookware in December, no sets are available, so we are sending $50 gift cards.

The next day, they sent me this email:

Thank you for participating in the P&G Breast Cancer Awareness Program. Your submission has been received and is currently being processed. Your FREE Pink Cookware set will arrive in 10 – 12 weeks.

The next day, they sent me this email:

Your submission was processed and shipped Fedex smart Post three days ago. You should receive it shortly.

Phone call #3: What does “shortly” mean? Because it’s not happening.

Phone call #4: The last time I called, you said “shortly” actually means 6-10 days but that would mean already here and it’s not.

Phone call #5: The last time I called, you said that 6-10 days actually means 6-10 business days but that would mean here by last Friday and it’s not.

Phone call #6: The last time I called, you said it actually didn’t get shipped until Friday and that it would be here today and it’s not.

Phone call #7: The last time I called, you said it actually shipped on Thursday and that it would be here today and it’s not.

And that’s when they said they were sending me a gift card in addition to the cookware and it should be here tomorrow. Via special delivery by Santa and his team of unicorns.

More Fun With Lists

So here I am. Writing my blog again. Why am I writing a blog instead of earning real money writing real articles like “15 super-frugal saving tips“?

Because I’d rather rip off my own fingers, one at a time, than write something that 1) people already know or 2) is really, really stupid. Or both.

Doubt me? Here’s the caption after the title: “Big-time penny-pinchers will go all out to cut back on spending. These strategies can help them save more than the average consumer.”

Here are the actual tips (the comments are mine):

1. Take cold showers: this bright idea will save money by lowering power and water bills through shorter showers (reducing energy and water use).  Until you consider the medical expenses for men after their testicles retreat into their bodies seeking warmth or the real risk that people will skip showers altogether, increasing usage (and adding the cost) of air fresheners and colognes.

2. Get rid of your car: Great, just great. The .001% of the population who has access to affordable public transportation gets to save a whole lot of money. The rest of us (you know – 99.999%) can commute on foot or bicycle. All year long. Including winter. When, during that long, dark, bitterly cold bike ride home, you get frost bite and hypothermia. Requiring the amputation of two toes, an ear, and your left pinky. While recovering in the hospital, brighten your day thinking about how not having the expense of a car will let you pay .001% of your hospital bill.

3. Stop using a fridge: We know how much money the Amish save with this tactic. Or do they? Can’t they use gasoline-powered generators? So maybe they don’t save any money at all. Or is it the Mennonites? They both look the same to me. Does that make me a bigot?

4. Replace your house with an RV: what could be cheaper – or easier – than traditional housing? So much less to keep clean! So much less space to call home! Or seek privacy! Which you remember a split second too late after you have a fight with your roommate and stalk out, slamming the door as you exit the RV while it rolls down the highway at 60 miles per hour.

5. Bake cookies in your car: really? What whack job thought this up? Oh. That’s right. The same whack job who thinks that parking your car in the sun on a 95+ degree day and waiting 2.5 hours for the cookies to bake is okay. Nobody waits that long for cookies. Just eat the damn cookie dough. Same amount of energy saved, no waiting.

6. Reuse plastic sandwich bags: the only tip so far that makes any sense. Except when the bag is used to transport body parts, anthrax, or arsenic.

7. Turn car off while it’s still moving: Best idea yet! What could possibly go wrong? Let’s just turn off the engine while we’re coasting even though the car isn’t burning any measurable gasoline. Just be careful not to turn the key to the — wait a minute! Ack! I accidentally turned the key to the “locked” position! Look out for that truc–

8. Make your own cleaning supplies: like Tip #6, not a bad idea. Better idea: don’t clean, save even more!

9. Stop drinking soda (or other beverages): Sooo smart. Stop drinking beverages of all kinds. Save money for the funeral which will happen shortly after you die of dehydration.

10. Move in with your parents: I’m betting it wasn’t a parent who thought this up. Better yet – don’t give them the chance to say no. Just say you’re coming home for a visit and then never leave.

11. Buy in bulk: because everyone needs a closet full of gallon jars of olives. Which segues nicely to …

12. Stockpile supplies: won’t necessarily save you money, but in the event of a zombie attack, you won’t have to risk a trip to the grocery store.

13. Compare prices: First, make sure you convert to the same unit of measurement. For example, when buying steak, note that filet mignon, at $19 a pound, looks more expensive than the caviar at $18 an ounce, making the caviar look like a better deal. Until you realize that caviar is raw fish eggs and THAT could mean you’d eventually cough up a sturgeon and you don’t even like fish.

14. Cook big: nothing saves money like eating leftovers for a week because by the third night you’ll decide not to eat anything at all, saving even more!

15. Plan ahead: be a “Surprise! Just thought I’d drop by, my that smells good” uninvited guest who coincidentally happens to arrive as people are sitting down to dinner. Change destination nightly.