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Inspirational Reads

A Wretched Proposal

September 14, 2010

If may be so bold, I'm going to ask you to participate in today's story. I want you to think back to earlier in the year, when I had television problems. Remember that? Okay, good. Your part is done.

You may also remember that I used some money from my annual bonus to buy a new flat-panel television...just in time for the World Cup. However, I still had the old, rather malfunctioning television taking up space in my living room.

Oh, sure, we hid it behind the doors of the entertainment center--itself a bit of an eyesore and about as stable as a college romance forged at a kegger. What to do with these two piles of refuse sitting in my living room? What to do, what to do?

As the television still sort of worked, I didn't want to just throw it out. I also didn't want to keep it around. I was in a sort of tele-limbo while I tried to make a decision.

Then, one day, I heard a commercial on the radio saying that Best Buy--they of the big yellow tags and the really shitty customer service--was offering e-recycling. Just bring in your old electronic appliances and they would take care of them for you. They would even give you gift cards for your trouble, especially if the appliance still worked.

The catch was that not all Best Buy stores had an e-recycling center. I needed to verify before going about the task of lugging my rather heavy television in only to find that they would not accept it.

Recently, we switched out some furniture in the house and we got a much nicer center for the television to rest on. Not to mention, it is now a far sturdier base, so I'm not afraid of my beloved third child television toppling over while my son is dancing around playing Link from the Legend of Zelda series. In the course of rearranging the room and switching the furniture, I ran (and, I'm not exaggerating, I promise) my tele up the hill of my front yard and stowed it in the back of my car. Whenever I could, I would take it Best Buy and get rid of it, safely and environmentally consciously.

Which brings us to Labor Day weekend. I decided to drive to Best Buy near my wife's place of employ, and see if they had an e-recycling center. I had the children with me. I walked in, queried the man at the front, and he directed me toward the customer service counter where I could leave the television.

Fabulous! Away we went back to my car where I hefted the television into my ursine grasp. My daughter grabbed the remote, my son carried the chord so that it didn't drag on the ground, and my daughter closed the back of my car. Into the store we went, through the doors, and over to the customer service counter. I set the television down and waited in line.

Finally, it was my turn and I told the woman that I had brought in the television for recycling. While in line, I began to fantasize about all the wonderful electronics I would be able to buy with my newly-acquired gift cards, a reward for my environmentally-conscious efforts.

"Excellent, thank you," she said, "that will be $10."

I pondered for a second and whipped out my Best Buy card. $10 was a little less than what I had envisioned for the effort of dragging the television into the store, but, what the hell. I figured I could get the $10 as a credit on my card, which meant a little less I'd have to pay off in order to even my balance with the cold, heartless capitalistic pig of Best Buy.

I swiped my card, but nothing happened.

I swiped it again. Again, nothing happened.

"I can try it for you, if you'd like," the young lady offered.

Suddenly, the lightbulb over my head finally began to flicker to life.

"Hold on a second," I said as she was poised to swipe my card a third time. "Are you...are you charging me $10?"

"Why, yes," she stated. "It's our policy, with anything that has a screen. Televisions, computer monitors. Things like that." She was so perky delivering the news I wanted to punch her in the throat.

"I'm sorry. I must have misheard you. You are charging me to recycle this television?"

"Yes. It's our policy."

"Fuck a bunch of that!" "Then I will be taking my television back now, thank you very much," I said.

"What are you going to do with it?" the girl asked, suddenly huffy and defensive. The perkiness had disappeared in half a heartbeat.

"I'm going to set it out on the curb in front of my house. Someone will take it away. For free!" I added a bit of extra emphasis on the last two words. I probably even raised my eyebrows in a mockingly friendly fashion.

"But it won't be recycled!" she countered, still huffy. Apparently, the eyebrow-raising had not had the intended results.

"Don't care. Someone will take it. For free!!" Again, the added emphasis on the tail end of the sentence. More eyebrow waggling, to boot.

And so, I gathered my television back up. My son took the chord so that it did not drag on the ground. My daughter took the remote. We were leaving the store when the asshat at the front tried to stop us.

"Where do you think you're going with that?" he asked, defensive.

"To my car, douchebag. I own this television and you can't stop me. Although, you're free to try. I'm sure it would look nice on you as a hat." And I continued on out the store, unmolested, to my car.

I went home. I carried the entertainment center to the front of my yard, setting it beside the driveway. I put the television in it. I hung a crudely-made sign (is there any other kind?) that simply said FREE! on it.

The following day, the television was gone.

A week later, the entertainment center was also gone.

For free.


Jidai said...

As much as I would like to say that Best Buy is great because it, Target and 3M are Minnesota businesses. I just can't.

I finally got fed up with them, I went in and bought a game. The also very perky teenage girl behind the counter as she was scanning it through asked if I would like to get a warranty on it for 5 dollars. I asked:

"Can't I just return it if the disc doesn't work for some reason and get a replacement?"
"No, you would need to buy the warranty."
"But Target and Wal-mart would let me return it."
"Well we aren't them, we strive for better customer service."

Pearl said...

HA! YOu make me laugh.

I have to say, having read the above: are all of your readers from MN? :-) Because I, too, would like to frequent Best Buy but my experiences there rarely end well.


p.s. And this? "about as stable as a college romance forged at a kegger." Brilliant. Wish I'd written that!

Adam L. said...

I had the same inconvenience when I recycled my old laptop last year. "Free" recycling turned into charging me X dollars (I can't even remember) to recycle it.

Unfortunately, I did not have the same vibrado as you did, and just paid the "free" recycling fee instead. I also didn't think I was going to be receiving a gift card, though, so perhaps if I had gone in with those expectations my response would have been different.

Viva free side of the curb furniture!

MJenks said...

I'm just going to put this out there right now...We're only accepting comments from people who are in some way, shape or form connected to the great state of Minnesota.

That Baldy Fella said...

I've heard of Minnesota. Does that count?

SkylersDad said...

I sign that says "Free" is like magic. You can put out horse shit in an old tub and it will be gone the next day.

The Invisible Seductress said...

Man this really really needed a video... smiling

Chemgeek said...

Sorry, I'm a little late to the "from Minnesota comment-fest on a stick."

All I can say is: Power to the people!!!!! Way to go Jenks. Best Buy can suck it!!! because they suck!!!

Wow, that was awkward said...

I love Calvin & Hobbes. I have all the books. I don't remember that awesome comic though. And I'm in media!

Stories like this have contribued to me seeking out local, independent stores more and more often.

words...words...words... said...

Please please please tell me that you actually said that to the door guy on the way out. Don't tell me that this is embellishment.

I love how "that's our policy" ignores all manner of customer service sins.

DEZMOND said...

ah, at the beginning of the story I had high hopes that the telly would end up in your bathroom so that you could watch it while doing the business in there :)

Sully said...

I'll bet Best Buy gets a nice Tax return for recycling your stuff on top of charging you for it....

Nej said...

Best Buy (sigh) Oh how I hate you.