Meandering Thoughts

My American Life - Freebies!

Part of the human condition is that we really, really like free (sometimes we get very upset when something is not free anymore). Unlike reports to the contrary, I am human and thus also very much like free stuff. Moving involves breaking and buying items: I did a lot of both during my recent move. Before my journey I bought an external hard drive to back up my data1 and a friend bought me a suitcase—I needed a second one for my travels. Unfortunately both of these items broke: the hard drive refused to be recognized and the handle of the suitcase would not retract.

Returning these items was not high on my priority list at the time. There are things more important than Amazons return policy, like having a mattress. So off to Ikea I went, picked out some furniture—and a mattress. When getting the home delivery set up, the lady assured me the mattress would not be forgotten: it had to come from a separate building, but she had put a note with my delivery. Off I went back home, to sleep on/under a combination of carpet, pillows and duvets.

You can guess the next bit. Two days later my furniture arrived—but no mattress. Fortunately, when I went to Ikea with my newly arrived roommate a few days later, I asked—nicely—to bundle this new delivery with my mattress and they let us, saving $59 (plus 7% tax, that’s a whole other story). I got the ball rolling on the hard drive, and Amazon gracefully allowed me to return it to the UK and pay for postage, after traversing through some opaque websites, I found a relatively cheap option ($10-15) and off the hard drive went. The suitcase however presented a problem: postage was more expensive than the item itself. Originally no recourse was given, but when I diagnosed the problem by disassembling the suitcase and finding the handles quite bent a picture (that I sent with a request for spare parts) resulted in them offering me a new item delivered free of charge. If I can get Samsonite to send a replacement for the handle, I will have 2 suitcases for the price of one!

To reward myself for getting admission to a graduate programme in the States, I gave myself a bike: a Trek 2014 Madone 2.5, which was on sale. Great was my surprise when I came back to the shop to pick it up, that the store sale was now going on, and that if I had bought my bike a day later, I would have gotten $100 off pedals & shoes: fortunately when I mentioned this—nicely—they said this was not a problem, and I got the $100 off. What I have learned from all of this that, engaging in conversation and asking nicely will get you a long way in getting freebies! In my case, $306.62 in a fortnight.

  1. Some say: “there are two types of people: those who have never lost data, and those who make backups”. They are wrong, there is a third category of people who will make backups of backups, because they have had their backup system fail. I fall in that category, and had 2 external hard drive on my journey (the new one, and the more trusty (but less capacity) one I have had around for ages and a backup on the desktop I have sold on, plus some data backed up back home at my parents. 

By Henk-Jaap Wagenaar.

Last generated: 2023-12-19 11:21