My Holiday Was On Schedule, Until Customer Service


Here’s how organized I am: I have completed my Christmas shopping and have already started on my returns. You know which day is a good day to return things? Black Friday. While the other shoppers are lined up three deep at checkout, I have the customer service people all to myself.

I fish into the depths of my bag and come up with the proper gift receipt and a flugelhorn-shaped cone mounted to a box.

“What’s wrong with it?” they ask, turning it over in disbelief, as if they’d never seen one before.

They probably hadn’t. I’m guessing very few of these things came through the checkout.

“I found out someone else is getting him one,” I reply.

It sounded unbelievable, even lame, but it was the truth. Jen and I happened upon a 30 percent off counter in mid-November and we lost our minds.

We should’ve known better. The counter was filled with ugly Christmas sweaters and oddball gifts that would easily qualify as gag gifts, but we were all hopped up on hot cocoa and peppermint and, suddenly, anything sporting a holly sprig seemed like a wonderful idea.

“What is it?” one of them finally asked. I’ll call her Thing One.

“You stick your cell phone into the slot, and the sound is amplified,” I explained.

“But can’t you just adjust that right in the phone itself?” she asked.

Her co-worker (Thing Two) poked her with an elbow.

“It’s a clever gift,” Thing Two said. “Are you sure you want to return it?”

“I don’t want him to get two,” I replied, shifting from foot to foot.

At that point, I didn’t even want him to get one. The customer service people shrugged in unison and rang my gift receipt back into their register.

“Here you go… $20,” Thing One said.

“But I paid $25. Don’t I get back what I paid?” I dared ask.

“We gave you Lucky Bucks. We have to deduct for the Lucky Bucks,” Thing Two said.

“But I didn’t even use them!”

“You should have.”

“Can I use them today?”

“Sorry, no, they’re only good for three days.”

“So if my gift recipient had returned this themselves, they would’ve only gotten back $20?”


“But that’s not fair! I spent $25 on him!”

“You could’ve given him the Lucky Bucks, too,” they offered.

“But they would’ve been expired!”

Thing One and Thing Two looked very sad. “Yes,” they mourned.

But as I turned to leave, they inexplicably brightened. “Merry Christmas!” they shouted, the jingle bells on the ends of their hats jingling madly.

Merry Christmas? Here’s how organized I am… It’s only Nov. 30, and I am already in a bah-humbug mood!