Last week, I thought I’d found it: the perfect Xmas gift.
In fact, it seemed perfect for BOTH of my oldest, and dearest, friends.
Free food. Who could possibly reject free food – for the whole family, for a solid week, brought to their doorstep, complete with all supplemental ingredients and specific instructions as to how to prepare each meal for a truly gourmet dinner? And, how truly practical, as well; who enjoyed taking time to grocery shop during the holidays?
Yet, there it was: Hello, Fresh! the company – and GROUPON, the third party offering a discount that just could not be ignored.
Eagerly, I clicked on the appropriate online link, and ordered the products as Gifts. Filled out the forms, paid with PayPal, and off they went. So enthused was I a big, pink Facebook post followed; I’d found t.h.e. perfect Christmas present.
At first Lisa, my old college housemate, was ecstatic. She’d just sold their house in NY, was closing on the new one in the LA burbs in just days and starting a new job within the week…..this, she said, was a “godsend.”
Well, God’s been busy. It’s the holiday season, after all and, in these times, He’s had to field all manner of religious holy weeks and festivals and fasts and, well, who would want that job?
PROBLEM #1: How would this [free food] be shipped to either of my friends (in California), if their addresses had not been filed by GROUPON?
There was a Voucher, a Gift Card of sorts, which had to be printed by the Gift recipient who, in turn, needed to sign on to the site to select the meals. I quickly emailed my friend, with the heads up.
In between viewing job prep clearance videos and appointments for the requisite physical, she’d managed to open the email and become thoroughly confused. Perhaps she’d wait until her husband came home from his job as cartoon editor at Warner Bros. He’d make heads and/or tails of why she couldn’t seem to.
PROBLEM #2: And, this was huge. Access to the menu selection site. GROUPON, she said, was actually asking the gift recipient for credit card info, claiming some “ongoing subscription” requirement.
WHAT??! Did I do this to my two, best friends?!
Over on the other side of the county Alex, whom I’d called Sandy since first grade, was beyond any gratitude; she was incensed.
To her, self-employed business owner for decades, the whole thing felt so impersonal, and annoying, and no way was she entering any credit card info in order to receive food or anything else alleged to be a “gift.”
Several texts and emails later, far longer than it would have taken to coast over to the nearby department store for its weekly Tuesday Over 55 sale, true story: Hello, Fresh!, greedy as they came, in cahoots with GROUPON, the latter offering a discount to the giver, was roping the gift recipient into some ongoing subscription contingency; in short, no Hello, Fresh! meals delivered unless membership was first established which, of course, everybody knows, could be Cancelled At Any Time By Calling The Number On The WHAT??
My wallet was already filled with Gift Cards. There were 5 bucks left on the Bed, Bath & Beyond; at least one bookstore; and, now defunct, a local Mall card so old so as to carry an actual expiration date – meaning, in spite of the money put down by my former students’ parents, after a certain date that chunk of cash was doomed to the ether, or Bank of America, whichever held out solvency longest.
I’ll give you Cancel At Any Time.
I’ve got your number.
Commercial America: you want attention?
I’ll send you a card.
© 12/13/17 Ruth Ann Scanzillo All rights those of the author, whose story it is and whose name appears above this line. Be a good person; it’s free.