Jewish World Review March 11, 2005 / 30 Adar I, 5765

Lori Borgman

Lori Borgman
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Consumer Reports

Discount cards make you feel 50 percent off | I misplaced my key ring last week and was worried sick. Forget about the keys to the house and the car; I was worried about losing all my little shopper discount cards.

I have more shopper discount cards than Quaker has oats. All types of businesses offer shopper cards these days: grocery stores, drug stores, card stores, office supply stores, even gas stations. Any day, I expect the feds to join in: "Swipe your Happy Taxpayer Card and receive a free back massage with your next audit."

Whatever happened to businesses giving customers the advertised sale prices without making them first swipe cards and say, "Mother may I?"

At the drug store, I picked up two bottles of cough syrup and a pack of capsules guaranteed to shrivel my nasal passages. The clerk swiped my card and said it was generating a coupon good for three dollars off my next purchase — of cold and flu remedies.

That's almost as pitiful as the poor bloke at the grocery who doesn't have a discount card. Enduring the heat of the cashier's glare, and totally at the mercy of strangers, he stalls for time and pats his pockets. Finally, someone behind him tosses forward a card and yells, "Use mine!" A cheer goes up in the 12-items-or-less line.

A shopper card at the grocery store is a big money saver, but the eye-hand coordination it requires can be daunting. I've always envied those smooth shoppers, the ones that produce a shopper card, write a check, and grab the receipt all in one fell swoop. Personally, I've never been able to pull it off.

I have my card in hand one moment and can't find it the next. The clerk shoots one of those annoyed looks while I again fan through all the cards on my key ring. I finally find the appropriate card, hand it to the clerk who swipes it, then returns it to me as I knock my checkbook to the floor.

I retrieve the checkbook from beneath the cart and, in my hurry to return to an upright position, crack the back of my head on the little shelf where I was writing a check.

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You wouldn't believe how testy some cashiers get just because you leave a little blood in their shopping lane.

The paperwork required for saving money at the mall is beginning to rival the irritation quotient of the shopper cards. My personal favorite is the department store coupon that gives you 15 percent off Wednesday through Saturday, another 15 percent if you use your store credit card, and an additional 15 percent off if you can hold two shopping bags, sign your name on the little electronic screen and stand on one foot all at the same time.

At least once a week the mail delivers an oversized coupon for 20 percent off at a household goods store. I must have 30 of the coupons stashed in a letter holder by the microwave. These are cool coupons because no matter what the expiration date is, the store honors them. Last week I bought two shower gifts and a wedding gift. Did I use the coupons? Of course not. They were at home by the microwave.

So many cards and coupons, so little savings.

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JWR contributor Lori Borgman is the author of , most recently, "Pass the Faith, Please" (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.) and I Was a Better Mother Before I Had Kids To comment, please click here. To visit her website click here.


© 2005, Lori Borgman