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How Not to Buy a TV


I’ve never worked in consumer advocacy. The closest I’ve come is being a diehard consumer and an econ class in college (grade, b-). Other than that it’s been ;ifetime credits at Credit Card U and Hard Knocks U.

In spite of that, there are things we do have. I have a computer that is still working after I dropped it, typing skills that run around 40 words per minute when I move a few fingers and my thumb around the keypad, which makes it time once again for my shameless plug series.

It started with a simple trip to Best Buy to get a new TV. I won’t say what happened to my other TV except that I think I last watched it during a Bush administration.

But I had to dust it off because this was for a special occasion, Oprah’s final show. Someone said that Best Buy or Price Club would be the way to go, but I had to scratch Price Club because I would never buy a case full of orange juice at once and never joined.

So it was into my leased car and off to the nearest Best Buy where I bought something snazzy for a reasonable price. But then technology reared its ugly old head, making it a no-go for the following reasons:

1.) I never paid for cable.

2.) Being cheap, the management company never paid for it, either.

3.) Being thrifty, I had no intention of paying for cable, either unless it came as part of the privilege of living in my under water condo.

4.) I live in the inner sanctum of a concrete building where even cell phones often get cut off .

But my motivation to see the last Oprah episode was so strong that I forged on. Never mind that I missed the last few hundred ones. This was going to be special because it was a TV milestone, something that you could tell someone’s grandchildren when they feature your story in a museum. Because I couldn’t get a signal no matter what, I dialed the number on the receipt and got Best Buy’s Geek Squad. A very helpful gent told me to go out and buy a stronger antennae.

With thirty minutes to spare, I appear in the store for a high-definition antennae, thanking my maker that I live within close range of a store. I come in and out even happier that they have something in stock. I am not happy about having spent six more dollars, but that soon doesn’t matter.

I go home and try it out. But this batter up, strikes out again. I call the Geek Squad and am in the store for some TLC and reprogramming. The man in the store adjusts the bunny ears and sends me home. I drive like a maniac down Sherman Way where everyone else is blasting mariachi music and taking in the sights.

It is minutes into the show when I burst into my unit, and I am sure they are rolling the credits. I plug it in, play with those ears and nothing. I call the store back and they assure me the trick is in those ears. The trick is not in those ears, and they eventually crack off. I call the store’s manager on the way in my car where I am crying into the phone because I don’t want to have to pay for anything. It is now four o’clock, and the end credits are probably rolling.

The manager is a real customer-service specialist who lets me return everything. I leave the store in search of some watermelon. If I can’t have Oprah, at least I can have that.

Arriving home with watermelon in tow, I turn on the Internet and learn that the final episode will be aired on the following day, and the program will feature Oprah giving a recap of 25 years on the air. I already read about it, so I know what it’s all about. But at least I have that watermelon and my $200.00 back. It all goes to show that TV’s and watermelon are what happen when you’re making other plans.

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