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I See a Friday, and I Want to Paint it Black

November 26th, 2004 · 1 Comment

Black Friday — the epitome of consumerism and materialistic prostitution. To some, Black Friday is a day in which all holiday gift shopping must be accomplished with no exceptions. For others, Black Friday is a day to seek revenge on the corporate whores that exploit the average individual’s wallet the other 52 weekends each year.

This year, there were reports that dedicated shoppers (or, colloquially, total losers) were present and waiting patiently at the gates of the mall since 3AM. By the time I arrived at 6AM, I was shocked to find that not only was the parking lot in the Palisades Center approaching capacity, but also that the underground parking garage was locked down completely, with scores of holiday shoppers immigrating into the mall’s cavernous hallways.

I am not one to allow myself to be exploited by this perverted holiday ritual. One year, I participated in ‘Buy Nothing Day’. Of course, I realized that this was completely retarded, seeing as how I would need to do holiday shopping anyway (such as not to disenfranchise my friends and family). This year, I decided that the best form of protest was subtle and strong.

In previous articles, I described the Monopoly Best Chance Game 2.0 at McDonalds in extensive detail. I discussed methods for obtaining free game pieces (and the “No purchase necessary” fine print), and also then how to even turn a double profit by redeeming coupons online and in-store. With all of my dedication, I mailed in 25 game piece requests — each of which afforded an individual ‘Best Buy Buck’ coupon at a cost of $.74 to me. In essence, I spent $.74 in stamps for each $2 in Best Buy store credit that I accrued. But what would I spend this credit on? I redeemed the coupons online and purchased a combined PS2/Xbox component video cable, which by the way made both console systems look absolutely amazing on my progressive scan plasma screen. I also purchased a full size tripod, because as many visitors of this site know, I am very much into photography. I needed to redeem the coupons in-store. I had redeemed a single coupon to test the waters, and realized that it was not a simple process for Best Buy employees. Redeeming even a single coupon required a manager’s intervention.

To complicate things even further, I was also intending to redeem $85 in ‘Reward Zone’ gift certificates, and another $10 on a stored value card. At the end of the day, I was going to pay for my purchase with four types of tender. Before spending a single coupon, I actively searched the Best Buy flyer for ‘lead-in’ products. A lead-in product is one that is sold at a heavy discount, or even loss, such as to attract consumers. Often these items are stocked in limited quantities. The intent is not to offer the best deal possible — the intent is to advertise the best deal possible — luring in lodes of value hunters that will not be able to acquire the products that they came seeking. Last year, I foolishly arrived no later than 10AM only to find that literally every product that I was seeking was already sold out. Apparently, other shoppers had the same experience. This year, by 6AM, there was already a line outside the single entrance to Best Buy that stretched all the way down to Bed Bath & Beyond. Literally hundreds of people were standing in line, waiting for the right to enter.

Hundreds of customers wait outside of the Palisades Center Best Buy as if it were a popular club such as Studio 54, except Best Buy is way lamer than Studio 54. (11/26/2004, Photo Credit: Pete U.)

Without hesitation, I stood in line anxiously. I entered the store minutes later, laptop in-hand, knowing exactly what I wanted to do. I had an agenda: attempt to return an item I had already purchased weeks ago, and then purchase deeply discounted merchandise while paying as little as possible, and inconveniencing as many people as possible. Other shoppers were fervently determined to ‘beat’ me to the same deals they saw advertised.

Picking up the JVC 1000 Watt stereo system and 50-pack of blank DVDs that I desired (but failing to acquire the already sold-out wireless router I wanted for $9.99), I went to go wait on line for check out. For those that are unfamiliar with the Palisades Center Best Buy, allow me to quickly summarize. The check-out line stretched past the cash registers, through the home theater section, around past the appliances, through the camera section, past the computer section, then around the customer service desk, and back to the area where the cash registers were located. Literally, a line of customers waiting for check-out stretched around the entire perimeter of the store.

The line of customers at the Palisades Center Best Buy stretches around the entire perimeter of the store (11/26/2004, Photo Credit: Pete U.)

By some peculiar stretch of luck, a single cashier working in the center of the store was able to take individual customers so long as they were not paying any cash. Armed with fists filled with store credit, I eagerly cut ahead of the rest of the fools that would be waiting for hours and jumped into a line no longer than five or six other customers. Within moments, the line I was in was also flooded with customers. I was eagerly standing ready to redeem my coupons.

“Credit only on this line,” blared the employees behind the kiosk. He seemed to be looking at me, and so I said, “No cash here!” When there were two other customers in front of me, I told Ally to go pull the car around since we were parked so far away. Within a few more moments, the time of reckoning was at hand. I unsuccessfully attempted to return a PS2 cable I had purchased weeks before at the Albany store. Unabated, I continued with my peaceful protest. The cashier scanned my items and proudly (and within moments) declared my total to be approximately $414. I smiled widely, and then pulled out my Reward Zone certificates. This reduced the price by about $90. I then pulled out my gift card for $10. The total continued to spiral downwards — as did the expression on the faces of the employees attending to me when they saw me pull out a small plastic bag filled with McDonalds Monopoly Best Buy Bucks.

Their faces dropped — and they attempted to scan one of the coupons. As planned, their terminals froze completely, waiting for a manager’s authorization. “Void it,” I said, “and take care of some of these other customers.” Hearing myself say this, I laughed inside; knowing that the cashier could not, in fact, void the transaction. The terminals were programmed to either be authorized or denied, but only by a manager. The terminal I was at became useless until a manager became available. The cashiers nervously paged for a manager through the store’s intercom system, to no immediate avail. As could be expected, the managers were busy with a number of other problems that were arising. After all, if it was nearly impossible to walk in the store, how could it be possible to manage the store? With scores of other customers waiting behind me, the line came to a complete stand-still. The bumper-to-bumper stop and go traffic had become a complete parking lot. The cashiers fervently tried to cancel the transaction, but without a manager’s password, there was nothing to be done. “Try 1-2-3-4,” I suggested, “Or 0-0-0-0. How about the store number? Did you try 1-2-3-4?” With the same sadistic smile on my face, I watched the anguish on people’s faces as they waited.

Ironically, the Indian gentleman behind me in line was quick to be supportive of me. We had an at length discussion about how silly it was to make the process of redeeming one dollar coupons so lengthy. “Who would even try to rip them off for one dollar coupons,” he queried. I could see other customers getting equally frustrated. I smiled even wider as I saw all the other people getting frustrated not with me – but with Best Buy.

A manager finally arrived, and looked incredibly pissed that I was redeeming Best Buy Bucks. In fact, she initially attempted to deny me the right to use them – but very quickly recanted her position when I began spouting out the official rules of the game that stipulated that I could, in fact, redeem my coupons any time between the time I accrued them and December 11. Her sneers did not deter me, however, and she authorized the transaction and began the arduous process of scanning each individual coupon. Then, completely unexpectedly, they told me that they would have to begin the transaction over again because they had made some error. Oh, joy!

Suddenly, the customers in line began to get very upset. The cashier rushed to re-scan the stereo system and blank DVDs, and then redeem the Reward Zone certificates and gift card. The Best Buy Bucks, however, were apparently not worth their time. They took ten percent off my transaction total and even returned some of my coupons to me (the value of which was more than should have been refunded to me). In total, I spent approximately $238 – not bad considering that after rebates, I will receive another $80 – bringing my total to a measly $158. This was extremely pleasing to me, as I later found out that if I were to have purchased the stereo system online, the lowest price I could have found was $260 plus shipping for a refurbished unit! Then throw in the 50 pack of blank DVDs on top of that, and you have one very happy shopper here!

As for the other customers in line, I sensed a pretty good amount of tension and frustration. I considered it a wild success.

When all was said and done, my single transaction had taken over 30 minutes to complete. The entire line of customers that waited for this cashier had literally not moved a single customer in 30 minutes.

Upon completing my payment, I pulled the cashier close and told them that they were saints for being so patient. I wished the rest of the shoppers behind me luck in the rest of their shopping days. The Indian gentleman seemed relieved, but annoyed at Best Buy nonetheless. In the end, many people got very upset with Best Buy, missed out on the deals they desired, and wasted a lot of time. Black Friday was a big stinking pain in the ass, just as I had hoped it could be. Mission accomplished, and then some. Looking at my stereo, and thinking about all the people that I inconvenienced in order to get it, I will enjoy it more than if I had received it for free.

CONCLUSION: I successfully protested the perverted consumerism that embodies Black Friday and the holidays in general in a peaceful, legal, and restrained manner. I made out like a bandit, fulfilling my McDonalds Monopoly destiny, and in the process, made a firm statement in opposition to a culture that prides itself on material goods and a need to shower those that we love with objects at least once a year. Best Buy was egged in the face, the rest of the shoppers of Best Buy were substantially delayed, and I only had to write out envelopes to earn myself a stereo system. All things considered, I would rate this Black Friday as a ten out of ten!

Remember that if we want to tell those close to us that we care for them, we need not buy them heavily discounted merchandise. We can achieve a far more fulfilling relationship with those close to us by just reminding them how much we care every day.

Happy Holidays from!

Tags: Best Buy · Business · pwn3d! (Hacks and Tricks) · Skippy Stuff

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 » McDonald’s Monopoly 2007 // Sep 13, 2007 at 9:20 pm

    […] Best Chance Game. But not only do I horde the coupons, I try to go overboard with the things I get. In 2003, I bought a stereo system and some other gear on Black Friday — but this year, who knows, maybe I’ll buy a bunch of cameras or […]

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