Service of Shaggy Dog Stories

May 18th, 2015

Categories: Cheating, Marketing, Promotions

shaggy dog 2

You may remember from a previous post the story my dad used to tell about a dog in a small French town who every time he visited the butcher would enjoy a pat and a toothsome bone. One day the butcher played a trick on the dog and he tucked the bone in the dog’s collar, on his back, where the pooch couldn’t reach it. According to Dad, the dog was insulted and never returned.

The rest of this post is also reminiscent of a recent one, “Service of False Advertising.” What’s in the air? It must either be the season or the economy.

30 percent offI fell for a “30 percent off winter coat dry cleaning” poster in the window of a place near my office that I frequented a lot last year. I was shocked when the bill was $17 to clean a simple no-frills jacket and asked about the discount. “That’s been factored in.”

Like the dog, I don’t plan to return. I don’t like being bamboozled. Arf. An upstate dry cleaner, Thims, whose prices have been comparable to this one’s charges $10-$12 [with no discount]. Previously the cost differential on any item was never more than a dollar or two. While rent and salaries are less in Dutchess County, a midtown Manhattan cleaner has a volume that far surpasses that of an upstate business.

And yet I keep falling for these things.

reams of paperI bought a few reams of paper at a major office supply store and sent in the rebate information [which I’ve done countless times before]. A few weeks later I got a postcard. It said that I hadn’t sent the correct receipt. [There was only one so it was impossible to make a mistake]. Perhaps they were counting on my not having a copy, which I didn’t. I was irritated about wasting my time, won’t be doing the rebate thing again and will also avoid buying that brand of paper.

Is the secret to not being taken to fall for zero promotions, rebates and special offers? Does a business that plays such games think it is following a clever strategy? Are there any legit ones?

Shaggy dog 1

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12 Responses to “Service of Shaggy Dog Stories”

  1. Lucrezia Said:

    Make it a point to know prevailing prices, and/or what a particular business charges for XYZ items, and you will not be bamboozled. As a matter of fact, were you actually cheated, or did you just forget to take out the adding machine?

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I would say cheated. I’d gone to the Manhattan dry cleaner quite often and was in their computer. I’d never before had to grill over prices. One time last year she short changed herself and asked if I’d pay the correct amount the next time I dropped off clothing which I did without an argument. She was relieved. I don’t expect such a place to triple the price before publicizing a 30 percent discount. So they made money on my jacket but haven’t seen a thread of my other winter clothes.

    As for the rebate, I didn’t want to waste more cartridge ink to make a copy of a receipt which is why I didn’t have a copy to resend. This won’t happen again as I won’t waste my time in future.

  3. Martha Takayama Said:

    I really think no one likes to be tricked or deceived. I am slightly cynical or mistrusting of promotions for buying multiples of items that I do not need or won’t use before their validity has expired. However, it is terribly annoying and insulting to have to encounter mythological promotions, or bait and switch situations. It seems to be more frequent. But then I do remember the older brother of a friend of mine saying that “‘list price” (for records) was the most meaningless expression in America.

    If it is apparent that a product or service has an unexpected or inflated markup, but a concurrent discount, the effect is insulting and leaves an unpleasant sensation of disrespect and mistrust. These practices seem to be more and more frequent, but they must also generate foolish use of funds for bad advertising. There may be people who are seduced by the manipulations, but, I, like you and the dog, would choose to not go back EVER. The negative effect of word of mouth on the part of the alienated customer should also be factored in.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    As I responded to Lucrezia, I had worked in good faith with the dry cleaner when it made a mistake in my favor and I paid the amount the cashier said I owed without argument. I clearly am no longer the type of customer they want as they’ve lost me. One day, if I’m in the mood, I might drop in on my way to or from work and tell her why she doesn’t see me anymore. Meanwhile, my feet have done the talking. And as this was a particularly cold winter, I used plenty of clothes that need dry cleaning–their loss!

  5. Donna Boyle Schwartz Said:

    Donna Boyle Schwartz wrote on Facebook: Very mistrustful of rebate offers…I think the suppliers bet on people NOT filling out the paperwork correctly or losing receipts. I always scan a copy of the rebate form and receipt before sending it…..

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Brilliant! I was annoyed at using up paper and ink but I wouldn’t have to if I just kept a scan. Thanks!

  7. Sean Piggot Said:

    Where we live, we are still blessed with small stores owned by people we know who know us. They treat us fairly because it in their best interest to do so. If a promotion comes up on the internet, which catches my wife’s eye, she checks with the local merchant best placed to judge its legitimacy. He or she then orders the product for her. This may cost a little more, but avoids much anguish and saves vast quantities of time.

    We realize that our friendly, helpful village stores will not be around forever, but. as long as they are, we are going to take advantage of their presence. After that, who knows?

  8. KF Said:

    Are you familiar with Dryel and a similar Woolite product that let’s you dry clean items in your own dryer? You either put items in a special large bag or just in the dryer itself with a saturated Dryel or Woolite sheet and run the dryer for 30 mins. The results are great, especially on sweaters, scarves, pants, skirts, etc. We even did our living room drapes and were quite pleased with the results. Definitely economical and more control over what solvents the dry cleaner actually uses.

  9. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I clearly misunderstood the relationship I had with the Manhattan dry cleaner, a small operation as well. Whomever manages the place doesn’t take into account that their customers have plenty of options. That isn’t true in a small town, so good for those vendors for honoring their clients anyway.

    I take advantage of the online 30 percent discount offers from CVS and so far have never been disappointed.

  10. Jeanne Byington Said:


    What a great option! I will look into Dryel for certain. Thank you!

  11. Hank Goldman Said:

    We had a recent experience, that was triggered by several free offers of dinner coupons, and free flights. It turned out to be a so called… vacation club. Kind of a time share deal, even tho the speaker, mr. Main sleaze, denied any similarity. It was run by sleazy people that you would never trust. And of course the rebates and flights were SO restricted they were not worth using!

  12. Jeanne Byington Said:


    A million years ago I knew a couple who went to some God-forsaken place on a “free” trip. They were newly married and welcomed a chance for a free vacation. As a result, they almost got a divorce! They hardly had two seconds to themselves–the salespeople were in their room pushing them to buy a nonexistent house in a place that didn’t even seem to have water and electricity in what was described as a future dream vacation spot and the husband began to fall for the pitch. The wife–we worked together–saw through the scheme. When they were alone, they fought over this. Thank goodness, she won–though I don’t know what happened to their marriage! I left the company soon after this episode in their lives and we didn’t keep up.

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