February 5th, 2012

Peter G

Keep Your Receipt

With DanCon coming up, my presence there is becoming more acute in my mind.  As I've mentioned, I'm probably the only person there whose stock in trade is all ages stuff.  Combined with my Doctor Whooves fanfic, and I expect I'm going to get a lot of people looking for something for their younguns.  "Hey!  This guy draws My Little Pony!  Can you do a sketch for my kid?"

Since I have some real estate, I decided to make what I was up to obvious.  Target has a special crosspromotion deal with Hasbro, carrying all sorts of exclusive Friendship Is Magic merch.  And among them was a large stuffed Twilight Sparkle, roughly the size of my life size Pikachu you see in my icon.  It's so big and fluffy!  It takes me a couple of tries to locate one, they've apparently sold pretty well.  But last week, I managed to find one and marched out the door with it.  I paid cash.  Spoiler alert:  this will become a problem later on.

As I'm going over my stuff during the week, considering what books I will be taking to DanCon, I take another look and notice something I didn't see before -- the stitching next to one of the eyes is torn.  It's a small gash, but it's all my eye zeroes in on.  That will never do, so I decide, when the weekend hits, to exchange it.

I head for the Target I got it from.  I ask for an even exchange, and she says sure.  I head for where they are, knowing there were two there last week.

It's gone.

When I get up front, the lady asks me if I have the UPC tag.

No, I threw it out.

"I would give you a refund, but I need that UPC to look it up in the system."

Can you look it up in your system?  I can tell you the day and almost the time I bought it.

"No need for that.  Let me see the card you used."

I paid cash.

Her face dropped through the floor.  "I can't look up cash transactions like that."

We talked for a couple of minutes, trying to go through options, but ultimately, without something to identify the product in their system, she can't give me a refund.

As I'm out, I start going over options in my head.  I decide to just find another Target and swap it out there.  After a couple of tries, I find a Target and it has two Twilights.  I go back to my car, grab mine, and head for the service counter.  (There was a line, and I think I threw people that a full grown man is just standing there with a large purple horsey under his arm and not seeming the slightest bit embarrassed.)

I get up, explain the situation, including that I paid cash and no longer had the receipt.  "Even exchange?  No problem.  Just grab one, bring it up here, and we'll do the rest."

I go to the back, grab a Twilight, and head for the service counter.

There's a different person there.  I explain the situation.

"Do you have the receipt?"

No, I paid cash and didn't realize there was a problem.

"We need the receipt."

Even for an even exchange?

"Yes, I'm afraid so.  We need it to keep our national inventory records accurate."

I grab my original Twilight and stalk out to my car.  It's an even exchange.  Not only that, but it's a product that is ONLY available at Target, so they can't say I bought it at Toys R Us and brought it there.  Anytime I've tried an even exchange anywhere, including Target, they just swapped it out.  This is the first time I've even been told I need a receipt to do an even exchange.  I could probably find one online, but I'm too afraid of getting one that was owned by a plushiephile (if you don't know what that is, don't ask.  You don't want to know.  Just stay in your happy, safe little world).

I catch my reflection in the rearview mirror.  I say to myself, "Alice, let's cheat."

I go back into Target on the other side where the service desk can't see me.  I go, grab the Twilight plushie, pay for it in the electronics department, and exit out that same door.  I then drive to one of the previous Targets that didn't have the plushie.  Grabbing my original, the tags from the new one, and the receipt, I go up to the service counter and say, I just bought this, but it's got a rip.

She looks it over.  "Do you have the receipt?"

I produce the tags and receipt.  Here ya go.

She looks it up.  "I don't see we have anymore in the store.  Would you just like your money back?"

That would be great.

Ka-ching!

Have any of you been running into this lately?
Peter G

Repeat Performance

Longtime readers know of Fermata, my Android tablet that I'm almost never without.  I love that thing.

Well, mostly.

Fermata, a Cruz Velocity T104, was my first Android tablet.  $200 out the door with extended product protection and everything.  Dandy little machine, but very limited.  The interface was laggy, seemingly accepting presses at random.  Video playback was fine within certain limits.  Running 2.0, which was outdated when I got it.  Even worse now.  I couldn't even load the US Constitution app, which just displays the text of the US Constitution, on it.

As much as I loved the little bugger, I could tell I was not happy with it.  I was behaving the same way I did just before I ditched my Cloudbook in exchange for Kylie, my IBM S10 netbook.  I would spin through the tablet aisles in the stores.  Around Christmas, I was actually considering buying a new one.  Wasn't sure what I'd do with Fermata (I don't usually get rid of tech unless it breaks), but I really was getting tired of having to coax the tech to make it work.  I'm very good at coaxing tech (I ran WindowsME for three years), but I was just tired of doing that.  I refuse to pay the price of a new computer ($600) for a tablet.  I kept my eyes open in hopes of finding a decent one (with authorized Android) and that the price would come in in the $300-$400 range.  I really didn't want to spend that much money, but having a tablet with me has become indispensable.

Last week, Fermata stopped charging her battery correctly.  Despite being plugged it, she went from over a week on standby to just under two days, even worse if you actually turned her on to do anything.  Replacement battery (what I initially thought was the culprit) was $35 plus shipping.  But I really wasn't thrilled with Fermata anymore, and not charging the battery was a decent enough excuse to use the product replacement plan to trade her in, get my money, and use it to knock down the price of a new tablet.  I stop by Sears and talk with the guy.  He points out a Toshiba Thrive.  16G, $400.  This thing was loaded, more than any other tablet I had seen.  It has a full size USB port, meaning you can plug a regular keyboard into it to type with.  Full size SD card slot (when you get to higher memory, full sizers are about half the price of micros).  GPS.  The whole shebang.

I call up Sears product center and they give me two options.  I can send Fermata back to them as defective and get a gift card.  Or, if I don't want to be without a tablet that long, I can buy the new one, get the coverage plan, call them back.  Once they get the info, I send Fermata in, and they send me a check for the money to do as I want with.  Good enough for me.

But when I got to Sears the next day, the lady in the electronics department was less than helpful.  I said I wanted the Thrive.  She looks up the Internet site and says, "We don't have any of those?"

Sears has a separate inventory network (I know, they've used it to look up stuff for me).  I ask, can you just make sure you don't have any in the store?

"Web site says we don't."  Actually, the web site says they have none in stock they can ship, there might be limited quantities at the stores.

While trying to decide what to do next (they had an Asus that was $450, but microSD and mini USB), Fermata starts working correctly (or as correctly as she gets) again.  I smirk and think, well, I guess I'm stuck with her for a while longer.

Cut to last Friday night.  I had just downloaded some fanfilms to watch on Fermata.  One was a Doctor Who fanfilm that was almost two hours long.  THAT'S ambition!  The movie had just started when Fermata's interface started acting goofy.  The keyboard would pop up then vanish.  Playback controls would pop up and vanish.  Control keys on the side were no responsive.  Then she powered down.

Wouldn't start up again.

I literally had Fermata held above my head and was ready to throw it to the ground when a little voice whispered to me, "If you break it, you don't get your money back."  Seething, I carefully lowered her and put her down.  She had bricked herself, and I had no interest in trying to revive her.  I was done with coaxing her.  I was done with the hit and miss quality of the onscreen controls.  I was done with being unable to update her and sometimes bricking her while attempting to do so.  A CPU running half the speed of anything on the market when I got her.  And the final straw -- found out the Cruz tablets are apparently made by Samsung.

That did it.  I.  WANT.  A.  NEW.  TABLET.

I call up the Sears in my usual stomping grounds to see if they have a Toshiba Thrive.  Supposedly they do, 32G, $350.  During the week, I had also gotten a bonus for perfect attendance at work, a $100 gift card I could spend anywhere.

Turns out, the one they had looked up was sold by a third party vendor through Sears and was only a 7" model, not the 10" like the Thrive, and minis and micros.  But they had a full blown 16G Thrive in stock, the last one.

Gimme.

Did everything, got the plan, now I'm just waiting for Sears to send me the shipping label so I can get my check for $200.  So, a $450 (with tax and everything) tablet got $300 knocked off the price.  For less than the price of one of those cheapo Popstation quality (you Brits know what I'm talking about) tablets, I have a full size, high rez, top of the line Android tablet now.

This thing is NICE!

The interface is crisp.  In fact, I'm having to relearn how to use it because the presses work like they are supposed to.  Plays back regular quality video instead of low quality only and in a variety of formats.  Invidia GPU.  Backgammon (one of my favorite games) is pre-installed.  HDMI.  Cameras.  GPS.  This thing is awesome.

Now, I need a name.  I name my machines to keep them separate and organized in my mind.  My convention is the desktops are named after men (Darwin, Becket, Lenny, Super Dave) and the portables are named after women (Stella, Pam, Maria, Genny, Kylie, and Fermata).

I have the name.

Folks, say hello to Twilight.