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.



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.


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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Living the XBox Life on an Atari Income

Nintendo GameCube Silver.
Image via Wikipedia

At some point, everyone has “champagne wishes and caviar dreams.” Over the last 25 years, we’ve even been peddled the “you can have it all” myth from every direction, including the media and the government.

The truth is simple: you cannot have it all.  You can have anything, but you can’t have everything.  In order to have one thing, you have to give up something else.  It’s a law of nature.   If you have $5, you can either get a burger or an overpriced cup of coffee, but not both.

“But wait!” you shout, rudely interrupting the narrator, “I have a credit card. I can have both!”


And stop interrupting me.

If you have $5 and borrow $5 to get some coffee to go with your burger, you will eventually have to pay that money back with interest.  You will have to give up a future-burger AND a flavor shot in your overpriced coffee.

Everything you buy needs to be paid for, some day.

If you have an Atari income, but insist on living the XBox life, you will wake up one day, buried in bills, forced to live the Commodore-64 life out of sheer desperation.

There is a solution.

Don’t get all XBox-y until you are making XBox money. That way, you’ll never have to worry about going broke tomorrow paying for the fun you had yesterday.

Even when you have an XBox income, ideally you’ll restrict yourself to living a Gamecube life, so you’ll be able to put some money aside to support future-you instead of constantly having to worry about your next paycheck.

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