I learned the hard way Black Friday is more of a curse than bargain blessing. My body has yet to recover from my in-the-wee-small-hours venture out to three Mesquite retailers in search of flat-panel TVs and laptop computers. Nor has it recovered from the deflating experience of coming home empty-handed.
At 3:12 a.m., I arrived at Best Buy only to find the line wrapped completely around the store. I should have known better than to be so late, what with the Big Box's circular stating that vouchers for front-page items would be handed out at 4 a.m.--and that included, of course, the television and laptop. Deciding to walk to the end of the line, which I never saw, I overheard that the vouchers had already been handed out. Huh? It wasn't even 3:30, but, sure enough, customers had them in hand, and the blue-shirted employees were all out. Could someone explain this to me? I wasn't hopeful about my call to customer service, being that corporate types were probably off on Friday, but I needed consolation. After five minutes of way too chipper recordings, I couldn't fathom giving Best Buy any more of my time.
The line at Circuit City wasn't as long at 3:30, but it still wrapped around the building with people at the front in lounge chairs and sleeping bags and on their laptops. My friend arrived just before the crabby employees felt the need to berate customers and shout orders for us to line up against the wall to make way for traffic that never drove through. The news then came that vouchers for the laptop, the TV and a camera would be passed out.
Fast forward to 5 a.m. I entered the store and was politely ushered to the television line. Perplexed but optimistic, I waited to be told we needed vouchers. Only, none of us waiting had been given vouchers. The employee consoled us by saying, "I guess they were given to those at the front of the line." Oh, and it was the same story on the laptops.
My friend Mark had gone to Office Depot for a bargain laptop. The line was significantly shorter than all others. When I met up with him we were maybe 40th in line. Over the years, I've learned if you can make it within the first hundred, you have a fighting chance.
The store, however, didn't open till 6, so yet more time was spent loitering outside in the cool, dewy, depressing air. As time drew near, two store employees come out looking intent on giving us the rules. Imagine my shock when they told us they were sold out of a few items, including one desired laptop. Double huh. These guys hadn't even opened yet, and they were sold out? The employee (and a manager looking dapper in a tie) had no answer to that other than, "The items weren't in stock, but similar items are on sale." Sounded like BS to me, and by that I mean "bait and switch." Oh, and it was bullshit too.