The Library vs Amazon

A few weeks ago, I discovered the queue at my public library’s website.  The process is simple: Select your books, wait a few days, then pick them up. They are available from any library in the county, delivered to my local library. That’s awesome. Much more convenient-and cheaper-than Amazon.

So I moved a couple of pages of my Amazon wish-list into the library’s queue.

I must not have been thinking, because two days later, I got an email telling me that 19 books were ready to be picked up and 10 more were in transit.facepalm

In this county, each checkout is good for 21 days. For items that don’t have a waiting list, you can reserve 3 times. That’s 12 weeks for 29 books. Hopefully, I’m up to the challenge.   Please keep in mind, I’m a father of three, two of whom are in diapers, and I’m married, and I have a full time job.

I have frugally blown every second of spare time for months.

Update: This was another post written in advance. When all of the books came in, I suspended my request list. Little did I realize, the suspension cancels itself after 30 days. That was 30 more books. Whee!

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My New Windfall

Tax season is over.

money

money (Photo credit: 401(K) 2013)

This year, TurboTax and Amazon teamed up to offer me a 10% on up to $1200 of my refund if I took it as an Amazon gift card.

$120 free if I spend that money with a company I’m going to spend money with anyway?

Yes, please.

I spend lots of money with Amazon.  I subscribe to many of my household items there, because I use them and I don’t want to have to think about buying them.  I get my soap, shampoo, toilet paper, paper towels, and garbage bags automatically delivered.  There’s a bunch of other stuff, too, but that’s what I remember off the top of my head.  If I have 5 items in a monthly delivery, I get 20% off.

Free money, free shipping, and none of the hassles of shopping?

Yes, please.

So now I have a $1320 credit with the company I use for most of my non-grocery shopping.

I also have 962 items on my wishlist with Amazon.

To recap: $1320 burning a hole in my metaphorical pocket and 962 items that I have wanted at some time in the past, begging me to bring them home.

That’s a dilemma.

The smart answer is, of course, to let that money hide in Amazon’s system and slowly drain out to pay for the things I actually need.

The fun answer is to stock up on games and books and toys and gadgets and cameras and, and, and….

Some days, it’s hard being a responsible adult.

I think I’m going to compromise with myself.  I’ll leave the vast majority of the money where it is, but I’ll spend a little bit of it on fun stuff, and a little bit more on stuff I don’t quite need, but would be useful, but not so useful that I’ve already bought it.

A new alarm clock to replace the one next to my bed that automatically adjusts for daylight savings time but was purchased before they changed the day daylight savings time hit so I have to adjust the time 4 times per year instead of never.  That’s on the list of not-quite-needs.

The volume 2 book of paracord knots is on the list of wants that can’t possibly be considered a need, but it’s going to come home, anyway.

I figure, if I spend a couple of hundred dollars on things I really, really want, I’ll scratch that itch and leave most of the money alone.

What would you do with a $1300 gift card at a store you shop at every week that sells every conceivable thing?  Spend it right away, or stretch it out, or something else?

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Inadvertent BOGO

I refuse to buy my kid more expensive video game systems.    He’s got a friend who’s got one of each, going back 15 years.

This is a picture of an XBOX, and its controller.

Image via Wikipedia

We don’t do that, so he’s spent the last 6 months saving to buy his own XBox 360.  After his birthday this month, he finally had enough, so we ordered it a few days ago.

Wednesday was the Great Unboxing.

I was making dinner in the kitchen while the punk and his friend unpacked the box from Amazon.

The squeals were normal.   The shouts of “Dad, why did you buy two XBoxes?” were a surprise.

Two?

No.

Actually, yes.   There were two of the things in the box.   Did I order two?  Did I accidentally pay for two?

Nope.  The packing slip only listed one, my order history only showed one, and my credit card was only charged for one.

Yet, there were two in the box.  Free XBox! Woot!

That means an XBox in the bedroom for Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption, and an XBox in the basement for Madden and Star Wars.    No fighting.  No turns to take.   And it didn’t cost us an extra $200.

That’s all win.

If there’s nothing on the packing slip, then Amazon didn’t know I had it.  Even if they did, I didn’t do anything to make them send it.  There was no fraud.  Legally, I had no obligation of any kind to do anything other than enjoy my new prize.

Lots of win.

The kids were excited.  Everyone gets a turn.  Multiplayer games.

The parents were excited.  We get a turn.  M-rated games.

So much freaking win in that box.

But….

There’s always a but.

We didn’t order it.  We didn’t pay for it.  It wasn’t ours.

A friend told me to sell it.  She knows how hard we’re working to pay off debt.

A coworker said, “Screw them.  They’re just a big corporation who’d be happy to screw you first.”

But it wasn’t ours.

I spent 12 hours trying to rationalize a way to keep it that wouldn’t be unethical, make me feel guilty, or–most important–send a horrible message to my kids.

I couldn’t do it.

It wasn’t ours.

I had a talk with my son.   It was his money that got this little prize into our house, after all.    He wanted to keep it, naturally.  He’s got a lot to learn about persuasion.   He acknowledged that sending it back was the right thing to do.   He agreed that it would suck if the roles were reversed.  His only argument in favor of keeping it was “I want it.”

Even he admitted that was completely lame.

It’s going back.  I let him think that was his decision.

I talked to Amazon.  They apologized for the inconvenience and gave me a UPS label to send it back at no cost.   It didn’t cover pickup, but I’ve got a drop box in my office building, so I can deal with that.

My wife was pissed.   The customer service rep never bothered to say thank you.   She called Amazon to complain to a manager.  After reminding him that we had no duty to return the free XBox, he gave us a $25 gift card to say thank you.

I love my wife.

My son, for deciding to to the right thing, gets to spend the gift card.   My wife, for being awesome, gets to be with me.  I miss my free XBox.

What would you do?  Would you keep the free XBox, sell it, or send it back?

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