Sunday November 20, 2005
There were at least three road closures for maintenance today between here and Boston. Only one of them was on the main road but the posted diversion led straight in to another and, because I misread the diversion sign on that one, we were led into another. At no point was I lost but I could have done better. A lot better.
“Settle back and enjoy the drive,” I said. “Not often you get to see all these strange sounding place names.”
I was aiming for Coningsby at that point, and passing through New York, looking for the turn to Brothertoft.
“All I wanted was a quick dash out for a new Christmas tree.”
“Yeah. I know. Best laid plans and that.”
“Ain’t that the truth.”
We got there in the end, and pulled into the car park by the Homebase DIY store that’d been advertising a 30% discount on Christmas trees. There was a bewildering display of the things, in all colours, sizes and styles. That wasn’t the only puzzle, though. The discount wasn’t as straight forward as it was advertised to be, either. Signs posted here and there around the store offered the information that the discount was on the original sale price, which was shown on the tickets in tiny print I couldn’t read. The bold price, and the only one I could read, was in fact for a previous discounted offer and nothing to do with the discount they were offering today.
So, when we finally selected the tree that seemed best to fit our requirements, I was mightily puzzled when the discount applied at the checkout was less than I’d expected. I puzzled over the till receipt all the way to the car.
“There’s something wrong here,” I said.
“How do you mean?”
“They’ve given us a ten quid discount when it ought to have been a little over twenty.”
“Right. Back we go, then.”
“I don’t understand the discount you’ve given me,” I said to the young man on the customer service counter.
“No,” he said. “A lot of people are saying that. The 30% applies to the original price, like the sign on the display says.”
“There’s no ‘original price’ marked on the till receipt,” I said. “Just the previous price and the discount. And they don’t add up.”
“The original price isn’t shown on the receipt,” he said. “It’s held in the computer.”
“That’s a rip off.”
“Well, it’s certainly confusing.”
“I want my money back,” I said. “I don’t need any more confusion in my life.”
“Fair enough, Sir,” he said, and proceeded to re-scan the barcodes on the till receipt, and the box holding the tree.
That was when things started to go really wrong. The computer rejected the refund transaction, not recognizing one of the barcodes.
“Seems your computer is as confused as your customers,” I said.
“It’s no problem, Sir. I can put in a manual refund.”
At this point there was a distinct reduction in the queue of people waiting to pay for new Christmas trees as they abandoned their purchases and exited the store. It’s not that I was being loud; I don’t do loud in these circumstances and in fact I was being my very best, quietly-spoken but assertive self. Seems I’m not the only Bostonian shopper who doesn’t like to be confused into paying more than he’d bargained for.
The refund got done in the end, and I was handed a clip of paper as evidence, containing the original receipt, the credit card slip, and a refund slip. I stuffed the whole into my wallet against the end of the month when I shall check my MasterCard statement very carefully, and we went back to the car.
“Not the most successful of enterprises, this,” I said.
“No,” Graham replied. “Tell you what. You go and do Tesco’s and I’ll have a look in the other DIY store. They’re advertising a discount on Christmas trees, too.”
That was a failed enterprise, as was an exploration of another store, Tesco’s, and WalMart. A new Christmas tree doesn’t seem so easy to find as we’d thought.
“We’ll just have to get up early tomorrow and see if we can pick one up in the Spilsby market,” I said as we motored out of Boston on yet another diversion.
“No,” Graham replied, sternly. “I’m fed up with Christmas trees now. We’ll make do with the one we have.”
“Good. This is a pretty route.”
“Isn’t it, just. Look — the river’s frozen over.”
“So it is. Just like Christmas, in a way.”
“I’d rather not think about Christmas just now, if you don’t mind.”
“Yes. I can see that. Sorry.”
Just then, the diversion delivered us to the turn at Frithville where I’d gone wrong on the outward journey.
“Good heavens,” I said. “This is actually a much better route into Boston town centre than the way we’ve been going all this time.”
“Will you be able to find it again?”
“Oh, sure. Just so long as I don’t get confused.”