Seaside Beach Trip, Feb 2010

Just like last year, Jack and I took off for the Oregon coast to get away and celebrate my birthday. This year it was Seaside, Oregon. This time it wasn’t just the two of us. We brought one the four-legged babies; Mia.

Pretty Mia

The weather couldn’t have been better. It was warm and near 60 degrees during the day and each night we were treated to beautiful sunsets.

Jack and Mia, Seaside

Like this one:
Sunset February 20, 2010 - Seaside, OR

And this one:
Tracie's 41st Birthday, Seaside Or, 2010 145

As always when the weather is nice on the Oregon Coast, the scenery was breathtaking.

Somewhere between Tillamook and Seaside

What was different was having a puppy tagging along. She required a bit of work, but she was mostly a ton of fun to have with us.

Mia taking a short break from all the digging and running around

We spent our first night relaxing in the hotel and getting rested up because the next day was spent walking around and shopping. Mia was with us the whole time and attracted a LOT of attention from the many people enjoying the coastal shopping opportunities that day. Seaside is pretty dog-friendly. Many shops allow the dogs inside and even put out bowls of water for the pups outside their doors. Many people stopped to pet her and she enjoyed every second of it.

For Mia’s first time out on the beach we kept her leashed and close to us. The second day we got brave and let her go off-leash to see what she’d do. To our delight she stayed close to us most of the time and came running every time we called her if she wandered too far.

I called her too me

She discovered the joys of digging.

Lots of digging to be done at the beach

Jack did too. 🙂 We’ll probably pay for that this summer when we have no yard left.

We were thoroughly impressed with how well-behaved she was the entire weekend, especially being only 5.5 months old! She sure is a smart one!

Cute too!
Snuggly Mia

You can view the rest of the photos I uploaded here.

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2009 Recap

I really can’t believe what a blur 2009 was. Every year I think, ‘this is the year things will slow down’ and all it does is speed up. I guess the older you get the faster time flies. I wish I had known this when I was younger and quit being in such a dang hurry to get older! 😉

Here’s a 2009 recap with some Christmas, Birthday, and Mia (who’s doing great, btw and did NOT come down with Parvo!!!) pictures thrown in for fun.

Way too cute!

January: We purchased a new camera and I’ve bombarded this site with photos since. I’d like to think I’m getting better at taking good photos at least. 🙂 This was the month I also revealed how obsessed my kids have become with nerf dart guns. Kayla finished and came home from her internship at Disneyland.

FebruaryMarch: I (Tracie) turned 29 AGAIN. For the 11th time. Imagine that? We spent a beautiful weekend at Lincoln City, OR for my birthday. Cody turned 8 in March. I didn’t report much else in February or March and now it seems to be a blur. I really must post more often! If for nothing else, so I can remember what the heck happened throughout the blur of each passing year.

Um.. is it REALLY for ME?

April: I remember April without even having to look at the archives. April was the month that I discovered Thing #1. While having Thing #1 investigated, the docs found Thing #2. April was the month my poor poked, prodded, dyed, cut open, accessorized, and even burned boobies will never forget! April was pretty much all about my boobs. How fun! Except, not. April was also intense for other reasons (court hearings related to Lil Miss H’s adoption) that was supposed to but didn’t happen and a crap load of phone calls and drama related to that.

May: This was the month we bought our Suburban and spent the first of THREE weekends at Cathy’s house. How cool is it that we got to go to Trout Lake three times this year? And technically we went for a few hours one other time and to BZ on Christmas Eve too. That’s five trips east of Hood River this year to see Cathy and family. Maybe we can shoot for even more in 2010?? My mom also took me to see the American Idols live in concert which was pretty fun. I also remember complaining a lot about medical bills this month.

Ooooh. Aaaaah.

June: Ahhh June. How could I forget E. Coli June? June was the month I gorged myself on ate a little too much cookie dough and will never forget it. (Remember the whole cookie dough recall thing?) Technically I don’t know for sure that I got E. Coli but I know I got damn sick and that’s just too much coincidence. I rarely even eat cookie dough. Kat turned 18 and got her GED. I went with Lil Miss’ kindergarten class to the Oregon Zoo and I got a lot of laundry done.

July: was memorable for the record breaking heat. 108 degrees was just way too freakin’ hot! It was the month we camped downstairs by air conditioners, and spent money we didn’t have to buy more air conditioners. Oi. We had our annual Fourth of July party and had a blast! Casey turned 11. I also did a lot of laundry.

It was like a snuggie party!

August: Jack and I celebrated our 15th year together and our 10th wedding anniversary in gorgeous Seaside, Oregon; the same place we honeymooned. Someone ran over our mailbox kiosk, we spend insane amounts of money we didn’t have on school supplies and clothes for the kids, and I did a lot of laundry. I’m sensing a theme here.

September: was all about Pearl Jam! Well, not JUST about Pearl Jam but it was definitely one of the highlights of our year (along with our anniversary). Jack turned almost 40 (muhahahaha) and we spent Labor Day weekend at Cathy’s in Trout Lake and had a blast. The kids started back to school.

Thumbs up!

October: Miss H’s adoption was finally finalized! Jack’s Godzilla got an upgrade, and of course there was Halloween.

November: Kayla turned 20 (*gulp*), Jackie turned 15, and Kevin performed a solo in choir. We spent Thanksgiving weekend with almost all the family at Jack’s grandmother’s.

Another thumbs up!

December: Much holiday and birthday madness ensued. Kevin turned 18, Melissa turned 14, and Lil Miss turned 7. We adopted Mia, our little Rat Terrier from the Oregon Humane society who rescued her from an overwhelmed breeder in Tillamook, Oregon. She was quite sick and the first week with her was a blur of sickness, vets, and crap loads of money we did not have flying out our window to get her better (in addition to all the Christmas and Birthday shopping…) Hopefully the insurance she came with will come through and cover most of it! We spent Christmas eve at Jack’s Grandma’s and paid Sarah and her family a visit. The day after Christmas we drove up to Cathy’s and spent the night so we could visit and fix her door. New Year’s eve was spent quietly at home with family. It was a good end to a great year.

What IS it?

2009 had its ups and downs for certain. I look back on the year and feel lucky and very thankful that mostly there were ups. We are certainly blessed.

Happy New Year!

Pat Moore Quality Cars

Just over a month ago I promised I’d post my good customer service story sometime that week. So I’m a little late…

Before I begin this post, I want to provide a little disclaimer. I’m NOT being paid to write this post. Nor am I receiving any products or kickbacks. No one even asked me to write about this. I want to share what I felt was an awesome car-buying experience, something I feel is rare nowadays. It’s hard to find a GOOD car dealership who will treat you right. Pat Moore went above and beyond what I feel most dealerships would do.

At the end of May this year, we bought our Chevy Suburban at Pat Moore Quality Cars

New Suburban

I posted the horrid story of the dealership we dealt with before we found Pat Moore and I already posted about how awesome Pat Moore was, but their memorable service didn’t end there.

A few days after we brought home our ‘Burb we found the battery dead. We became a bit concerned because the battery was dead when we went to test drive it the day we bought it. The dealership had left the hatch up all day so the lights were on. We figured it might not have received a good charge so we charged it.

A week or so later it was dead again. By then I was beginning to think it was my cell phone charger. The lighter in the ‘Burb runs even if the car is off and the charger has a light on it that lets you know it’s plugged in. So it’s constantly drawing power. I made sure it wasn’t plugged in when not in use. I charged the battery again and it ran fine for several days.

Then I found it dead AGAIN. What made it worse is every time I found it dead, it was when I’d be heading out to take Miss H. to an appt. I had to call and reschedule that appointment THREE times due to the battery being dead all THREE times! I couldn’t decide if my new ‘Burb just wanted to mess with me, or if this was some sort of omen that Miss H. shouldn’t GO to these appointments, lol.

Technically we bought the ‘Burb as-is, but I called Pat Moore anyway just to see what they had to say after I had explained what was going on. Especially since they had killed the battery too before we bought it. I was surprised at their reaction. I fully expected them to tell me “too bad so sad”. (AS-IS!!) and I was ready to meet them halfway on a new battery or having a mechanic look at it. Instead they asked me to bring it in as soon as it was convenient for me and they’d replace the battery at their expense. (!!!) I went over there on my lunch break and they sent me down the road to a battery place. They had already called ahead for me and purchased the NEW battery. All I had to do was show up and get it replaced. The only cost to me was the gas to get there.

Things were fine for a month or so then the battery started dying again. So, I called Pat Moore back. Once again, they shocked me. They asked me to bring the ‘Burb in so they could have their mechanic look at it. They also offered me a loaner vehicle because it might take a few days. If I couldn’t get it running to get there, they even offered to come get it FOR me. But since we have a charger I was able to deliver it. True to their word, they gave me a mini-van as a loaner. FREE of charge.

It turns out there was nothing wrong with it other than operator error. If the doors don’t all get shut tight, the door light stays on. It’s got such good seals that the last door to get shut sometimes doesn’t latch all the way if you don’t shut it hard enough. And it’s hard to tell a door isn’t shut all the way if you’re not actually looking for that to happen. Ever since we’ve been diligent about making sure all the doors are shut 100% and haven’t had a single problem.

So in reality, the whole thing was our fault yet they went out of their way to buy us a new battery, give us a loaner car, and have it checked out all at their expense.

The tip of the iceberg? When we went to bring back the loaner and pick up the ‘Burb from Pat Moore, we arrived about 45 minutes before we said we’d be there. We were a bit stunned at what we saw when we arrived. We caught Pat Moore in the act of… washing our dirty suburban by hand. He was about half way done when we arrived and he looked a bit sheepish. He said “ah you caught me! It was a bit dusty so I thought I’d get it cleaned up for ya” … It was filthy because one of the roads on the way to the dealership was under construction and nothing but gravel for a mile or so. It got covered in dust when I brought it there to be looked at.

That … is what I call … Exceptional Customer Service. And from a car dealership no less! *Two thumbs up*

"And if you believe that"…

“I’ve got some ocean front property to sell you”.

This was said to me today by a Costco cashier. Thus ends a week of both some really awesome, and some really crappy customer service we’ve experienced. I’ll start with the crap first.

When we shop at Costco, we never walk out of there without spending hundreds of dollars. Since we have a large family it makes sense for us to buy food in bulk. It’s usually (but not always) the cheapest route, but most importantly: it’s the most convenient for us. It’s not unusual for us to go through a dozen GALLONS of milk in a week.

Occasionally we get a cashier who gets overwhelmed by our overflowing flatbed or multiple carts. Most of the time I make jokes or try to engage the poor cashier in idle chat to lighten the mood. Jack and I almost always shop together and we both unload the cart and will assist with reloading it if feasible. Jack’s careful to keep heavy items in the cart/flatbed and turn the UPC’s where they can scan them easily with their little scanner gun. We understand that overwhelmed feeling. Boy do we. Especially around the time they give us our total.

So today the cashier asked if we wanted boxes to carry out our purchases. As always I spare them the hassle and just ask them to box the small stuff. This must have been the straw that broke the camel’s back for this cashier because it was quite obvious my saying, “Just the small stuff please” offended her. She rolled her eyes and made a huge spectacle of looking under her counter for a box. Then she slammed the one she picked down on the counter and started tossing my food into it. I watched in shock.

This photo has nothing to do with this post. I just really like it.

This photo has nothing to do with this post. I just really like it.

When she got to the grapes, she tried to fit it in the box, it wouldn’t go, so she snatched them up again and slammed them down on the counter next to the box. At this point I’m getting annoyed myself. I don’t want WINE when I get home, thanks very much. I thought for a moment how I wanted to handle this as I didn’t want her throwing around our stuff anymore. I decided direct was the best approach:

Me: “Having a bad day?”

Cashier (very sarcastically): “Ohhh EVERY day at Costco is a WONDERFUL day!”

Me: “…”

Cashier: “And if you believe that, I’ve got some ocean front property to sell you…”

Me: “…”

I should have asked, “In Arizona?”

She went back to throwing my food around. I was so stunned I just kept my mouth shut and didn’t say another word to her. Jack missed it all because he was still unloading our purchases on to the conveyor, organizing as he went as he always does to make things easier on the cashier.

I mean it’s one thing to be frustrated or unhappy about your job, your day, having to ring up over $500 worth of food, but come on. In our current economy, she’s lucky to have a job and whatever her issue was, wasn’t MY damn fault. I thought of a few things I could have said to her. I even thought about telling her to stop touching my stuff since she couldn’t stop throwing it around. But I was in a good mood, and I really didn’t want her to bring me down. Most of the stuff we bought was pretty durable anyway.

I did complain about her at the customer service desk though. Despite having one other bad experience at Costco, I really LIKE Costco. I love seeing what new things they’ll have on display, I love the free samples, I even love the way our Costco smells (coffee & baked bread.. mmmm). Most of the employees are very friendly, and on many occasions they’ve thanked us for “helping the economy” (lol).

I don’t think this cashier realized HOW she offended me. I wasn’t offended for me, or my grapes. I was offended that she’d speak so rudely about her own employer and try to give me the impression that Costco sucks. I’ve never worked there so I can’t say from experienced, but I’ve been told it’s not a bad place to work. And one thing I’ve noticed is most of the workers I see have been there several years (their name tags all say what year they started). What if that was my first time there? I might have never come back.

Tomorrow Hopefully some time this week, I’ll get around to the AWESOME experience we had. Hint: Pat Moore Quality Cars

"I got hot!"

Remember that old TV commercial for AM-PM where the guy is sitting on the sidewalk in a T-shirt and shorts, gnawing on a hot dog with a big drink in his other hand, and his girlfriend walks up to him, crosses her arms and says, “I thought you went jogging?”. The guy replies, “I got HOT!” She rolls her eyes and says, “In THREE blocks?”

Jack and I are prone to repeating catchy phrases from movies and commercials. Like the one from Disney’s Tarzan, “Mom! Is this water sanitary? It looks questionable to me!” The AM-PM commercial is not an exception. We’ve been mimicking it since the first time we saw it whenever it’s hot.

“I got HOT!”

It’s all I could think about last night as I was attempting to sleep in the oven we call our bedroom.

"I got hot!"

I swear Jack was thrashing about trying to get cooled off, and he swears it was me throwing sheets around and flip flopping all over the place. I’m pretty sure it was him, though. I dozed a few times and dreamed he was wrestling a llama at the zoo that was trying to escape… I’m just sayin’…

At 2 AM I came downstairs where it was nice and cool and guzzled 68 gallons of water. The wall of heat hit me half way back up the stairs and I knew there was no way I was going to sleep. So I grabbed Jack and we slept on the couch where it was nice and cool.

We’re in the middle of a rare heat wave and it’s just not pretty. I went to go get Kevin today at his girlfriend’s and it was so hot in the car that it physically hurt my skin to be in it and there was no way I could wait for the A/C to cool it down. I had to get out and let it cool off without me. It’s pretty bad when you step out of a hot car and into 100°F degrees outside and feel BETTER! It also didn’t help that when I started the car, the little temperature readout said 110°. Once the A/C kicked in and cooled off the car, the temperature guage fluctuated between 103° and 104°. It supposedly measures the temperature outside so I’m not sure why it read 110°.

Right now the official temperature is 101.2 °F. Triple digits are just too damn hot. We decided today since the whole family is going to camp out downstairs where there is a window A/C unit, we’d buy one more for the living room and office area. The big A/C unit we have in the kitchen/nook/family room is going a great job, but it only keeps the office/living room area (where I work from) bearable.

I called Home Depot first. As always I got a friendly sales person on the phone within seconds of choosing the appliance department who answered all my questions, even when I asked how big the unit I wanted was (it’s going into a small window). She happily went and found a unit and read the measurements off the box for me. She added that we should buy it today as they were flying off the shelf.

I also called Lowe’s after that but true to form, they couldn’t get anyone to answer the call in that department. The call got routed back to the main desk three times… where the lady answering sounded annoyed at ME that no one was answering my call and she’d have to page someone. I sat on hold for ten minutes before hanging up. They lost yet another sale to their competitor because their customer service sucks so damn much. (Normally we’d drive to both to compare ourselves but we’re trying to limit driving time during this heat..)

While at Home Depot, they had a big heat pump model near the air conditioners and a salesmen posted behind it. He tried to convince me to buy one. He claimed it’d save me hundreds of dollars a year.

I don’t buy it. (pun intended)

First of all, why would I pay THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS on a heat pump that would provide me A/C for less than 2 months out of the year that it’s actually needed here, to cool off my entire house when the entire family spends the majority of the time downstairs? Sure it’d be nice to have the upstairs cooled all the time for the one, maybe two, trips a day I take up there. Or maybe if the kids wanted to play up there, but they rarely do. They’d rather be with the rest of us or outside in the summer. So it’s a complete waste otherwise. I have a perfectly good working natural gas furnace that has never cost more than $100 in a month during the dead of winter to heat this house.

Second, at night it always cools off here. Who needs A/C then when you can just open the windows, get your ceiling fans going, and things cool off quickly? Rarely does it stay hot at night around here.

Well this week it will be hot even at night. So we’ll sleep downstairs and save ourselves thousands of dollars on a luxury we only NEED once or twice a year… if that.

P.S. Lowe’s sucks.

Suburban

As I posted Friday, we started looking for a new rig. We thought about a passenger van but we wanted something a bit more rugged, something that could go over a mountain if we wanted it to. Something with four wheel drive.

I did quite a bit of internet research and had my heart settled on a Chevy Suburban. Jack is more of a Ford man and wanted an Ford Excursion. Either would work. While rare, both have versions that seat up to nine people. The only problem is the larger sized Excursions seemed to be very rare. At least around here. There were far more Suburbans to look at.

We looked at an ’06 Suburban on Friday at some sort of “close out” event at a local dealership. The salesmen weren’t actually from Vancouver, though. They were just using the (otherwise empty) dealership to sell their stock of repossessed and lease-returned vehicles.

The ’06 Suburban was feature packed, but seemed a bit rough on the ride. If there’s one thing Suburbans are known for, it’s their comfortable ride. It was hard to put my finger on it, but it just seemed like the vehicle had seen some hard times. It had fairly low miles (64,100) for an SUV (most we looked into had 80K plus miles, even newer used models), and it seemed in good condition, so I chalked up the ‘rough ride’ to not being used to riding around in a “truck”. It only had 8 seats, something I wasn’t thrilled about. But at that point we realized how hard it was to find the 9 seat versions of these SUVs. We decided to make an offer anyway.

I’ve dealt with car salesmen before. Actually I should say Jack has dealt with car salesmen before. But these were the most sleaziest sales guys.. EVER.

The salesman and the sales manager sat us down in a tiny stifling hot room, whipped out their scratch paper and started writing numbers down all over the place, circling the numbers here and there, and basically doodling on the paper while trying to seem like they were working hard on “figuring out the numbers”. It took an effort on my part to not laugh in their faces while telling them to STOP with the hokey dramatics.

Despite the fact that we told them they would not be pulling our credit and that we had our own financing, they made us sign this paper stating that we’d drive the vehicle away THAT DAY if we all agreed on the terms. We hesitated at this. Why do we have to sign for anything before we even really talked numbers? They explained “the bank” (the ones who owned this supposedly repo’d or lease-returned vehicle) required it. We obeyed, then made the mistake of giving them our phone numbers.

We had already looked up the value of the vehicle at kbb on our iPhones. (kbb.com is iPhone-friendly by the way.) We already knew the ballpark figure we’d be offering. The salesmen saw what we were doing so grabbed their kbb printout of the vehicle and told us their sticker price. It was $2k higher than the suggested retail on kbb. We were like “wtf?” They just continued talking out their ass, avoiding our questions, giving us a bullshit runaround while doodling on their paper.

I have to give them this: They could write numbers and make circles really really well. My 6 year old would be proud.

What we offered was dead center of the high and low values on kbb. It was a fair price based on our research. They balked at us, but remember, their sticker price was $2k over the norm with no reasonable explanation as to why. The sales manager claimed the bank would not take the number we offered as the vehicle was going on auction on Tuesday and they would not take less for what they could get at the auction.

Jack and the “sales manager” bickered back and forth about that for a while. It wasn’t a public auction, it was a dealer auction. Did they really think we are stupid enough to believe that a dealer would pay 2k more than the kbb value at an auction? Call me crazy but that doesn’t make sense at all.

The sales manager did the “have to talk to the bank” crap and kept leaving the room to “try to get our offer approved”. We know damn well he went into another room, picked his nose, then came back. That’s how they work.

Jack stuck to his guns, stating over and over the only price we’d pay. The sales manager left the room one last time, then came back claiming he talked to the bank and the bank counter offered with 1.6k more than our bottom line. He had written it in big letters on his doodle paper, and put a few circles around it. We said sorry and turned to leave. He and the salesman chased us down to the parking lot, continuing to show us the big number and circles. We kept saying, ‘sorry. not happening. We offer this and only this and that’s that”.

He changed his tone to be that of someone who understood so he was going to work with us. Then he pointed to the SAME number again and said “we agree on this right?”.

Um… NO? Didn’t we JUST tell you 60 times NO NO NO? He was like “but come on? We AGREE!” Jack was like “no, WE DON’T AGREE”. The guy practically whined saying ‘WE ALL AGREE!!’.

Was he trying to do some Jedi mind trick on us or something??

Then he tried to guilt-trip us. He said the salesman who assisted us worked hard for us and spent a lot of time with us. So we should all AGREE on their number.

First of all, the salesman didn’t do shit. He just followed Jack around like a desperate starving puppy while Jack waited for me to arrive to the lot. Second, there was NO GAS in the vehicle. NONE. And the salesman couldn’t get their company gas card to put gas in it to allow us to test drive it. WE drove it to the nearest gas station and WE put $5 in it. Out of our OWN pocket.

That reminded us. They owed us $5.00.

The weird freaky sales manager dude with his uber Jedi mind powers (haha) kept trying to convince us that WE ALL AGREE while the sales dude went looking for $5.00. I think our eyes WERE glossed over at that point, but it really wasn’t because his Jedi mind powers were working like I’m sure he thought they were.

We got our $5 and tried to make a break for it. Jack beat me to his vehicle first and hightailed it out of there back to work. I had to buckle in a child so I didn’t escape so easily. The sales guy chased me down and tried to get ME to buy the Suburban for the number WE ALL AGREE on. I played dumb telling them my husband did all the numbers in the household and I was clueless. He tried anyway repeatedly the whole time I was getting in my car, buckling my seat belt, starting the car, and backing out. He practically chased me down the street!

He then called my cell phone later that evening. Fortunately I missed the call so he left a voice mail saying they really wanted our business. Their offer, the number WE ALL AGREE on, was still good. I didn’t return his call.

What part of WE DO **********NOT********** AGREE did they not understand?

Yesterday we did some more research online, looking for anyone who had what we were looking for. No one really did, or if they did, the mileage was way too high for us to consider. So we went scouting local dealers ourselves. And found her. The ’04 Suburban that seats 9.. .the ONE we’ve been looking for. The mileage was 4k less than the mileage on the ’06 the freaks tried to sell us, and it was priced fairly.

It also had some gas so we could test drive it without having to fork over some cash. That’s always a bonus.

I drove it first and instantly I knew THIS is what a Suburban is supposed to feel like. It was smooth, like butter and exactly what I envisioned it would feel like. That “rough” feeling was not there at all. The engine was clean, the interior in excellent condition, and had brand new tires. Overall it was in better condition than the ’06. It had the ninth seat and… it was priced seven THOUSAND dollars less than the ’06 from Friday.

I realize two years on a vehicle can make a difference, but this had LESS miles than the ’06 and was in better condition. I don’t think I’m so crazy thinking the crooks were asking way too much for the ’06.

We didn’t snatch it up though. We wanted to be sure. We spent the next several hours scouting and calling around. NO ONE had a 9 seater. Some dealers tried to sell us passenger vans instead and one even told us for a low ten thousand dollars we could convert a passenger van to a 4WD (lolz).

We looked at Expeditions, Excursions, and Explorers. We looked at Tahoes, other Suburbans (lots of Suburbans) and none compared. It all came down to the ’04.

On top of the that, the dealer selling the ’04 was good. It was the actual owner of the dealer working that day and we could tell he was reading us and acting accordingly. He recognized we wanted to be left alone and stayed away keeping himself busy but still nearby if we had a question. He let us do our little iPhone research and didn’t butt in. Even when we left to do more scouting, he didn’t give us any hassle. He just thanked us for our time and off we went. Of course we came back, with an offer in mind. STILL he didn’t push us. He let us look over the vehicle some more, talk, etc. He left us alone to make our decision.

When it was time to talk numbers, there was no scratch paper, no numbers, no circles. He told us he tried to follow Costco’s way of pricing and mark up all his vehicles a certain percentage (15%) and that was that.

The price he was asking for the ’04 was more than fair, yet Jack still managed to talk him down a bit and we all settled on a price. It was THAT easy with this guy. And guess what? WE ALL AGREED. 😉

A short time later we drove this home:
New Suburban 008

We grabbed the kids and took off for a family member’s birthday party in Portland. It wasn’t a big trip… but… WE ALL RODE IN THE SAME VEHICLE. There was no figuring out who was going to ride where, or who could go or stay. We just… went!

And for those naysayers worried about how much gas this thing is guzzling (yes we’ve already been teased for this), we’re driving ONE vehicle to haul our kids around instead of two. So we’re really not consuming any more than we were before. 🙂 We’re keeping our minivan for the times when it’s just the 7 of us, and for around town driving. The Suburban is our weekend vehicle.

Edited to add: I forgot to mention the second phone call from the sleazebags. Just after we finalized the deal on the ’04, Jack got a call on his cell phone from the sales guy from the ’06. He called to let Jack know that their offer was still standing. They were still totally allowing us to drive their crappy ’06 away for $1600 more than we wanted to pay. Wasn’t that nice of them?

Jack told them, “I just bought an ’04 in better condition and with less miles for $7000 less than your piece of crap. Don’t call us again”.

It made his day.

Costco Bait and Switch?

First post for 2009 and it’s a gripe about Costco, one of my favorite stores. *sigh*

On December 30th Jack and I received a coupon booklet for many household and electronic items for Costco. The coupons were valid from January 5, 2009 through January 25th, 2009. One item that caught my eye was a $50.00 off coupon for a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28 digital camera.

We’ve been looking into purchasing a new camera for some time now. We purchased our Kodak EasyShare several years ago and while it was a great camera at the time, it’s very out-dated by today’s standards and our needs have outgrown what this little camera can do. Nowadays cameras that cost 1/3 of the price we paid for our Kodak EasyShare are much more feature-packed and produce exponentially better quality photos. Despite this we have put off getting a new camera because ours still worked fine and it wasn’t at the top of our priorities.

Then our camera broke mysteriously after the kids borrowed it over Christmas break. It still takes pictures, but the battery compartment would not hold the batteries in anymore and it kept losing the date and settings. Jack crafted a tiny little pin to fix it and that works pretty good, but we still need to be careful with it. Still, it was a sign for us that it was time to retire this dinosaur of a camera and seriously look into getting a new one. Especially when the darn thing cannot even capture Kevin or Melissa during their choir concerts. It’s just not powerful enough to capture stage performances and/or sport shots. I’m finding more and more that I am not getting pictures of the kids and their milestones, events, etc. that I want. It’s so slow we couldn’t even capture the girls playing soccer unless we got really lucky (back when they played soccer).

After seeing the coupon for the Panasonic camera for Costco, I immediately got online to look up the average cost of this camera and read some reviews. Amazon has it listed for $324 and has glowing reviews and Google Product Search showed it ranges anywhere from $261 – $400.

I took a closer look at the Costco coupon and noticed it had a little blurb that the camera was also online at costco.com — so naturally I looked it up there. But my search showed it was out of stock and/or unavailable and the price was $299.99. The price sounded about right and with a $50.00 coupon even better. I figured it was unavailable online because the coupon effective date hadn’t arrived yet. So I waited.

UPDATE: Costco has removed the price from the web page now. See the screen shot below for what it looked like before they edited it.

Today I went back to costco.com and saw the same “Out of Stock” page and the price was still $299.99. I called our local Costco and asked if they had any in stock at the warehouse. They had 35. So on my lunch break I drove to Costco where I found this:

costcocameraad

Take note of the price above the camera. See the ad? And where it says “Also available at costco.com”? I whipped out my iPhone and looked it up online to see if I missed something but there’s nothing. No disclaimer saying the $299.99 price was with a coupon or rebate, or that prices may vary. Just $299.99 and out of stock. Here’s a screen shot I took of the website:

Camera on Costco.com

I found a salesperson to ask why costco.com had the camera for $299.99 while in-store it was $349.99. He explained to me that costco.com and the costco warehouses were separate entities and that while sometimes costco.com was cheaper, after shipping and handling it usually worked out the same. I showed him the web page on my iPhone and pointed to where it said “Shipping and Handling included”. He stared at the page a minute, then said he was on my side and would go get a manager for me since he can’t override the price.

To make a long story short, two managers later, three (the salesman + managers) telling me the Costco Brick & Mortar and online stores were “separate entities”, as if I should have known that somehow, an hour of my time (I should have been in an out of there in 10 minutes), them making me stand around an wait while they ran off to make 3 different phone calls, I got the camera for $299.99 – $50 coupon = $249.99.

The situation was almost bait and switch and I was kinda ticked. I would not have drove down to the warehouse had I known it was going to be $50 more. We don’t exactly have it in our budget to get this camera so close to Christmas and the only reason we decided to go for it was the price they advertised online, the coupon on top of that, and room on our credit card. 😉

The “separate entity” thing really irked me because average consumers would have no way of knowing that the online store and the warehouses were “separate”. Especially in this situation since both the coupon and the store ad give off the impression they are one in the same. I also told them I’ve never heard of a major store or chain that sells products online and via their brick and mortar locations not honoring the deals they have online *unless* the online deal specifically states “Online sales only”. (Which their site does not state either.)

After years of shopping at Costco, it was my first negative experience there (not counting the jerk shoppers we encounter sometimes, especially on busy days) and to me it’s a pretty big one. At least in the end they did the right thing.