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Taking "Free" too Far

July 19th, 2007 at 06:04 am

Yesterday, I saw an embarassing sight. While shopping for groceries, I witnessed an entire family gathered around the bakery counter, where they have the free samples. The family was literally stuffing their faces with these samples. Not just that, they were blithely having conversation while continuously biting into and reaching for more pieces of bread/cake/doughnut, like they were at a restaurant. I was standing in line for about five minutes and the family was still eating when I left.

Does anyone else see something wrong with that picture?

Another example would be those who "rent" items for a weekend from Walmart or Target. I admit that once upon a time, like during college, I had friends or roommates who purchased a dress for a party but did not cut off the tag. After the event, they would go return the dress. At the time I thought they were being smart, but now I question the act. Recently, I watched some father, still decked out in flip flops and smelling of suntan lotion, return a whole bunch of beach gear to a rather peeved Walmart associate. The cooler looked in ok condition (though I wonder if the inside still contained ice or water) but the umbrella still had sand on it. He even shook it out (all over the counter, too) and then proudly showed his receipt. Wow. All I can say is, he had some guts.

Again, I wouldn't do it- I'd feel too guilty about purposefully buying stuff that I intend to use and then return. But are these people smart or stingy? There's some moral line here that I feel is being crossed...

12 Responses to “Taking "Free" too Far”

  1. Nic Says:

    At Costco, the hungry hoards come close to knocking and running each other over just to get a very small free sample of something. Even if they don't normally eat it, all they see is FREE.
    Re: the person returning items after a day at the beach...I wouldn't call his actions gutsy, I'd label it a lack of integrity. This is the example his children live by and a whole new "gimmee generation" will be raised w/the "I'm entitled" mentality. Sad.

  2. fern Says:

    I think it's pretty cheap and nothing to admire.

  3. Aleta Says:

    I blame that on the policy of the store. In some stores, there are signs that say that a sample will only be given to a child if the parent is present. I have seen some of the sample givers refuse a customer who they know they gave a sample to earlier. Sometimes the customer will say that the sample giver is confusing them with someone else, so the sample giver at that point will give them a very small piece knowing they won't come back again.

    First, the samples should be for adults first that will be buying the food, not a bunch of kids. Then we wonder why children don't learn to wait and stand in line patiently.

  4. mbkonef Says:

    I think both behaviors show a lack of integrity. When I am at the store with my kids and free samples are offered, I have always taught them that they may take one only - leave some for other people. As far as returning used items, I find that totally unacceptable. It is one thing if you tried to use the item and it was defective but otherwise, if you cannot afford it, make due, borrow from someone (not a store!) or do without. I have also seen cases where people buy two of something - one an expensive version and one a much cheaper. Then they return the cheap version in the box for the expensive thing, betting that the customer service rep will not really check. This way they get their money back for the expensive one while paying only for the cheaper one. This is stealing as far as I am concerned, as is using and item and then returning it. The store most likely cannot sell it for full value so you are basically stealing money from the store. Shame, shame, shame!

  5. baselle Says:

    Re: sending back the outfit after wearing it for an event. It really means that - hah, hah - the next person buying the outfit is essentially wearing thrift store rags too.

  6. koppur Says:

    I completely agree that it's wrong. There have been times when I've had buyers remorse, but if something was opened or used, too bad for me. I have to suck it up and deal with it. Teaches me to think before I spend. I do have to say, however, that as long as somehting if broken or doesn't do/work as it is supposed to, then it is ok to return it.

  7. daylily Says:

    Disgusting behavior for sure.
    I'd never have the nerve to try to return something like that. If it was something that turned out to be defective, OK. But a day at the beach?

    I actually know someone who purchased shoes for a wedding and then returned the shoes afterwards. That is just WRONG.

    Here's a good one along the same lines. When I was a kid, I went along to Sears with another family. The kids were going to have their portrait taken there. The mother found clothes at Sears, put the clothes on the kids, went to the portrait studio in Sears, then returned the clothes to the racks! It was embarassing just to be with them.

  8. mrs. Thrifty Says:

    It's a sad reality that there is more and more of this type behavior. If a person thinks it is ok to do this type of thing then what other areas are they showing a lack of integrity?

  9. Nora Says:

    It's utterly reprehensible behavior. I'm no fan of big corporations, but if you're willing to blatantly screw a store, you'll eventually be comfortable screwing a neighbor. Not to mention the lesson getting passed down to kids.

    It's made doubly disgusting by the fact the there are thrift stores that sell really good clothing in almost every community. Why can't this people admit their financial situation?

  10. loveandsalt Says:

    I'm enjoying your blog. But tell me: what is the $20 challenge? Thanks!

  11. Kamarulzaman Baharom Says:

    In my country, I have never heard that we can rent cloth or something like that over the week end. Wow ! Is it really exist?

  12. Pawnsensei Says:

    Hello. Just found your blog and think it's hilarious! BTW, just fyi, if you were born in the US then you are a second generation Chinese-American.

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