"Be Careful When You Shop"
By Capt. Fred Davis
Published: Friday, February 26, 2016

I’m sure some of my readers are growing weary of my commentaries on the political front. As I have stressed throughout this turbulent preamble to the election, our country is facing major changes and we all need to be in step with them.

I will take a hiatus from politics for a time — until some upheaval occurs at which time I may be compelled to comment.

I was talking about problems we face while grocery shopping and realized other areas are problematic also.

The multiple food outlets are not the only places where customers are facing cutbacks. Service outlets are joining in: such as banks where you no longer get free checks or many of the other free items you received in the past. You can still get a deposit slip but that is understandable.

Be careful not to make a mistake in your account at the bank — an overdraft can cost up to $40 and a stop payment request comes with a hefty fee as well. If you need proof of a payment by check, getting a copy can be expensive. I remember when tellers at my bank provided such services with a smile. That was before the age of electronics which was supposed to be so helpful. The price tag for it becomes greater every day, but I’ve learned through research the credit unions are still a good option.

Service at your pharmacy can be frustrating. If you need a prescription filled, while you wait, get ready for a half hour at least. No problem, your friendly drugstore has turned into a one-stop option for just about anything you need. They are offering more and more food choices, cleaning and office supplies, toys, cosmetics and rows of greeting cards to choose from.

That half hour will slip by quickly as you canvass the aisles.

One thing they don’t have that my drugstore of the past did is a soda fountain where you could get ice cream sodas or a sandwich while you waited. Port Austin’s Emporium, which used to be Finan’s Drugstore, still has the old-fashioned soda fountain.

Service at your gas station — sure, walk in pay and pump your own gas. The automated pumps are great but they would be better if they automated them all the same. As you travel it’s hard to find two alike. You can however purchase many items while you are filling your tank, which is why the gas station is now a “Convenience store.”

Service provided by our credit cards is changing also, thanks to the thieves. There are now choices when you present your card — push or slide. The new, guaranteed not to be hacked, cards require you to push them into the machine and wait twice as long as it used to take when you slid.

Using certain cards for specific purchases can be helpful if a problem occurs. Fraud departments at your card company can quickly determine if odd purchases are placed on the card that you use for only one purpose, such as gas.

Service where you purchase items such as beer can really be confusing because the beer manufacturers and are up to a devious trick. I am not a beer drinker or I probably would have caught this one. There was a sale on a popular brand that my friend drinks so I grabbed a 12 pack and was pleased at the price. I got a surprise when I put them in the frig, they were 10 ounce instead of 12 ounce. There was no indication on the carton, it looked the same. Later, when I asked my friend if he wanted a beer, he said sure — and got a good a laugh when I handed him the baby beer.

So sales are great but it’s still the same old saying, “Let the buyer beware.” Manufacturers of items know we shop by brand so they feel they can take advantage of that.

You really have to pause and examine each great deal because it may not be so great. Read the fine print — just take along that magnifying glass when you shop, or find a clerk and ask. May slow you down but you won’t get your purchase home and have a big surprise like I did.

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