This week, I clicked open an email with a coupon good for 40% off anything at the local Borders bookstore, which was closing. Since I missed out on the clearance carnage when my neighborhood Mervyn's, Linens N' Things and Circuit City closed, I was ready to jump on this deal.
Except it wasn't such a deal.
The coupon was only good for the Borders store that was closing on Natomas Avenue in Sacramento. For those who are unfamiliar with California geography, picture this: If you drove north from New York City, you'd be in Canada before I could get to Sacramento from my apartment in Thousand Oaks.
Minutes later, I did receive a polite apology email (they called it a "correction") from Borders, which noted helpfully that the offer was not meant for me.
I'm book-shopping at Barnes & Noble from now on. And I'm rooting for the Borders in Thousand Oaks to close.
Then my 20-year-old son, home for the holiday on a week-long week mission to make a mess of my apartment, received a direct-mail gift from our healthcare provider, Anthem. It was a brochure from Merck titled "Gynecologic Health and You."
The piece was accompanied by an earnest letter from something called Michael Belman, MD, MPH, who was billed as "Medical Director, Clinical Quality." Dr. Mike welcomed any inquiries on women's health from "Dear ALEX FEUER," but cautioned that "your preventive coverage may be subject to specific limits." (Said limits stretching, roughly, from "everything we can imagine" to "everything we haven't already imagined.")
The brochure was a lovely example of mid-1990s' design sensibility that brought my body-building, hormonally supercharged youngster up to speed on all things relating to women's reproductive organs, including such show-stoppers as chlamydia, cervical cancer and urinary tract infection.
It wasn't a complete waste of marketing money, however. That stuff is good for the kid to know on dates. You know, as an ice-breaker.
Then there's Galpin Ford, where I turned in the kid's leased Mazda in early December. He brought it back 25,000 miles over its allotment and with $2,700 worth of damage on it. But hey, car makers are gasping, and I've been a Galpin customer for a decade. Surely, I could get a break?
Alas, no. Their hands were tied because the lender is now Chase and no longer Mazda Credit, which probably thinks financing its own cars is bad business.
But hey, banks are tumbling. Surely, the salesperson could petition Chase for some wriggle room on my behalf?
Ah, no. I was forced into an even-worse lease deal that adds $150 to my monthly payment. Galpin did send us a lovely tin of chocolate-chip cookies, though. I'll be sure to bring up those cookies when I buy my next car--from anyone but Galpin.
Thus, a year of marketing tears and blood comes to a bumbling close. Although maybe those aren't real tears. Maybe I'm just standing too close to the garlic on the window.