"It's That Time of the Year Again"
By Capt. Fred Davis
Published: Friday, December 16, 2011

Boy, does this time of year move faster for you?

It seems like only yesterday Pat and I loaded up and made our way south to our winter home. We were looking forward to a second turkey dinner on Thanksgiving at our daughters in Florida.

I mentioned in my earlier column we got to enjoy two Thanksgiving dinners this year and that presented a dilemma for us. We tried to decide which dinner was the best. They were much the same except about 1,100 miles apart, and after our deliberation we decided that was the only difference — they were both great. We hope this news is well received by our daughters because we hope to have the same dilemma next year — it’s always good to plan ahead.

It can be difficult to plan ahead for Christmas shopping. We always start in Michigan, (Pat starts in July at the Farmer’s Market) wrap, pack and ship. When we get to Florida, it’s round two for the yearly undertaking. This year that method got us in trouble. The family in Connecticut got the first mailing and instead of hiding it on the kids (they are too old for that now I guess), they pulled the gifts out and put them under their (fake) tree. Our son-in-law pointed out to the kids, a boy and a girl, there was no gift for our grandson. Round two of shop, wrap, pack and ship will take care of that.

Despite the dire warnings, shopping has not been too bad. I suppose “black Friday” weeded out some early birds and according to the statistics quoted, billions of dollars are being spent by online shoppers. Sad to say, in spite of increased security (or so they say) by online stores, statistics for identity theft have soared at a fast clip also. We still like the “brick and mortar” experience of the variety of retail outlets.

Stores offer a great variation in their return policies. One accepts returns well into January, as long as the product is not used or damaged, while another wants all returns and exchanges made the week after Christmas or a re-stocking charge is assessed. We noted on TV shoppers are getting ahead of the game, returning gifts before Christmas.

Wonder what that is all about?

Some retailers offer what they call “Very Merry Deals.” You will receive an additional 5 percent off the incredible low prices if you use their in-store credit card, some even mail out discount cards to be used for purchases in their stores. One was good enough to print on the card, “We gladly accept competitors’ coupons” and in very small print, “If you find a lower price, we will match it” and, “Exceptions may apply,” finishes the declaration.

I have noticed a few questionable statements in advertising this year such as, “You won’t find it cheaper anywhere than in this store on Black Friday.”

I’m pretty sure I found several things “cheaper” in that same store weeks after Black Friday. I’ve learned that even if you do buy a bigger Android piece of electronics, you are STILL NOT A BIG SHOT.

They even say you’ll feel “rich” owning one but I’m pretty sure that only lasts until you get the bill. I was looking for a SMART PHONE but couldn’t find one smart enough to pay its own bill. I’m still looking.

I noted a lot of stores are pushing the big screen televisions. Some are so BIG I would have to sit out in the driveway to watch them — something like a drive-in movie with lots of commercials.

One ad shows a lady who thought the TV in her “whole new living room” made it look like a “whole new living room.” What a special ad that is. No matter what TV channel (including public channels) you view, or what paper or magazine you read, you will see or hear statements like, “Best buy you will ever find, never to be found for less, the best you can ever buy.” How strange that each of the items is a different brand.

As I see it, the best buy you will find on a big screen TV will be the week before the Super Bowl. I have a question about that ad for the high-priced Lexus, though. Would it be cheaper if it didn’t have the big bow on top of it? There will still be a few days to go shopping and I’m betting there will be better buys than you have found so far – but how late can you wait?

I’m happy I am done for this year.

You may have noticed many items I mentioned were high priced no matter what brand they carried. I do think I found the highest priced gift you could give however. It is a seat near Kim Kardashian at a New Year’s bash in Vegas that is going for $20,000. For that price, I think she should be sitting on your lap, not just nearby.




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