Froot Loops update

So, longtime readers of this blog will remember back on oh, say, April 30, 2005 when I posted a picture of a massive quantity of Froot Loops that I had acquired over the preceding days and weeks.

For those of you too lazy to click through, here is the picture

Anyway I would just like to report that those Froot Loops are now gone.

“But why Dan, those Froot Loops must have been awful stale by now, nearly 3 years later?”

“But of course – but luckily 3 year olds eat stale Froot Loops”

PS – that ketchup is still here, at least some of it. It’s still usable though definitely starting to show its age.

Saturday Problems

Wanted to recap my Saturday excursions (last Saturday – the 15th). We had decided to go up to the Y to swim as a family. Afterwards we were going to get some pizza. As part of our move (even though we haven’t really moved yet), we got on some mailing list where we’re getting all these free coupons from local businesses as they want to get our business.

You know what time it is baby? It’s bizness time – ooh!

Oh, sorry, got ahead of myself there. Anyway among these free coupons was a coupon for a free 2-topping medium pizza (2 topping – this is important later) from Mio’s pizzeria as well as $5 off any order at Larosa’s. So as we are heading home I call and order the pizza from Mio’s (pepperoni). I couldn’t find my coupon book so we held off on the Larosa’s till I could find my coupon book at home. So then we got home and

Problem 1: I left my coupon book at Meijer (where somebody apparently stole it as it still has not been turned in)

So we decided to just go get the Mio’s pizza and eat that and something else. So kid #2 and I went to get it. On the way we stopped at Kroger for some 19 cent Toaster Strudels. We were in the van and since I don’t drive that regularly I forgot that I can just lock it once we’re all outside with the keyless doohickey. So I’m waiting for him to open the door so that I can lock the doors and then get out. He does, I do and then

Problem 2: I shut his hand in the door (and right before his big recorder solo – I keed I keed)v

So I realize I’ve done this and go to open the door and

Problem 3: I can’t open the freakin door because (as I have mentioned) I already have locked the doors

Luckily it didn’t take me long to reach around and open it. His fingers weren’t broken or even that swollen or scarred. He could move them all but was understandably freaked out. I consoled him for awhile and then we decided we could make it into Kroger.

I know what you’re tryinnnnn to say; you’re tryin to say it’s time for business – it’s bizness time – ooh!

Oh sorry – I don’t know why that keeps happening to me. Anyway before I continue I should back up and mention that I am very much a creature of habit. I put my keys and wallet and such every morning on my nightstand. And in the morning, when I get ready for work, I take them off the nightstand and put them on. If someone (yes kid #4 I’m looking at you) moves them – I am very likely to just forget them because they’re just not in the right place. So my routine when I get out of the car is that I open the door, lock it, and then shut the door and then put my keys in my pocket. But all this hand shutting in door disrupted my routine so my keys were on the van floor (and very much NOT in my pocket), so…

Problem 4: I locked the keys in the van

So I called the Mrs. to come and get me which she did, even though she had to fit 4 people (and 3 should be carseat / booster wearers) in the little car.

Then we headed out to Mio’s. Got the pizza and gave the lady the coupon. And….

Problem 5: She was having problems with the register and I thought I was going to get some static about the coupon

But… that one turned out good – apparently because the coupon was for a 2 topping and I only got a 1 topping, I deserved a refund. So in addition to a free pizza, they handed over $1.25. For those of you that know me, I think you’ll agree that’s classic Dan Miller.

Here they come!

You’re looking at my first rebate check. This is one of the “Easy Rebates” that I filled out online the same day I purchased all the stuff (8/29). So we’re looking at about a month for the check to get here, so that’s not bad.

The other 8 or 9 easy rebates should be coming soon, and within another month or so the other ones should start arriving. It will be like Christmas every day at mail checking time!!!

I’m down to 3 rebates still marked as invalid and another 2 that have not been received yet

Breaking even on the laptop

And we’ve broken even! All but 2 of my rebates have been received by the rebate folks (the 2 that I just mailed in earlier this week). Of those 56 rebates, 48 of them are in “valid” stages, which from my experience means that the check is definitely in the mail.

Of the 58 rebates, 36 of them (including the 2 printer ones which should be accepted no problem) were immediately accepted as valid. 22 of them were initially marked invalid for various reasons, ranging from stupid to realistic. I have been on an email campaign over the past few days and not once have I even had to explain myself. I just email asking the default question radio button which is

“I checked the status of my rebate and it states that my rebate is invalid. What do I need to do to receive my rebate?”

and in a few hours / days I get an email saying something along the lines of

“Thank you for your rebate inquiry. You are a valued McAfee customer, so we are pleased to inform you that we have updated your record. Your rebate submission is now valid. The rebate check should be mailed in the next 4-6 weeks.”

I’m doing them one by one (probably for no good reason, but no need to rock the boat), and I have gotten through 14 of them, meaning only 8 remain invalid (all McAfee). I fully expect all 8 of those to swing to the good in the next few days or so.

So, as I mentioned earlier, the rebate I just got (an upgrade rebate on McAfee VirusScan + for $20.00) put me at $1260 in rebates that are marked as valid. As you may or may not remember, my initial cash outlay was $1,256.49, so I now have officially made money on this deal. Well, I guess I still have to wait for the checks to arrive but I’m not really worried about that.

The 10 rebates (8 invalid and the 2 printer ones not received) are for $375, so my final total should be a profit of $378.51. Then let the eBaying commence!!!

More free laptop

Yes folks it’s time for some laptop updates. I have now sent in all 58 rebates (I sent the last 2 in today). Because I mailed them in a few chunks, some of them have made it to the processing center, while some are still being “processed”. It’s odd in some regards because in some cases, I sent in multiple rebates at the exact same time, and some of them are processed and some are not. I wonder what goes on in the evil realm of “Parago”

So, there were 58 rebates that I have applied for, totalling $1635.00. Some of them I felt like I might not get, due to there only being so many “original” UPCs to go around, but I felt it was worth a 41 cent flier. Here’s where I stand, as of now:

  • Checks Received: 0 rebates for $0 – this is normal; they usually take awhile.
  • Validated:30 rebates for $845 – once they are in this state, then it means that the check is in the mail (so to speak).
  • Rebates not received (processed) yet:14 rebates for $485
  • Invalid:14 rebates for $405

Of the 14 rebates that are marked as invalid:

  • 5 for $85 are Missing Confirmation Email – this is complete crap as I bought the stuff in-store not online, so I don’t have a confirmation email. But, this is how the rebate companies make money – they deny this, and catch more people that either just take it or forget to fight it. This should get easily overturned when I call to complain
  • 6 for $170 are Missing UPC (or similar) – I think I should be able to get most of these, if my past experience with rebates is any indication
  • 3 for $150 are Missing Proof of Upgrade – Should be able to get these too.

UPDATE: I emailed one about the Missing Confirmation Email and in 20 minutes or so, lo and behold I get a response saying that because I’m a “loyal and valued customer” they have validated my rebate!! Looks like my theory is right – if you complain, they figure you have the information and so it’s not worth their time to fight it out with you.

In which Kroger tries to screw me, part 2

Went to the store last night, and one of the items on the list was cottage cheese. Get back to the dairy section and voila, big sign saying Kroger Sour Cream, Dips, and Cottage Cheese, 16 oz, 4/$5. But there’s no cottage cheese in that display. So I go over to the main area where the cottage cheese is, and it’s all listed at $1.85.

I ask the friendly neighborhood Kroger employee which is the cottage cheese that’s 4/$5, and he has no clue and vaguely points to the 16 oz stuff. So I take that, knowing full well it’s going to scan at $1.85. As I take it I sing a little song to myself – “Free, free, free cottage cheeeeese”

Sure enough it does ring up $1.85, and so I head to customer service. I explain things and the CS rep calls back. The person back there must have been looking at the sign near the cottage cheese and says it’s marked $1.85, so I offer to take the CS lady back to show her. We walk back and sure enough it’s 4/$5.

So we go back to Customer Service and thanks to Kroger’s Scan Right guarantee, I get a full refund of $1.85. In other words free, free, freeeeeeee cottage cheese.

Sometimes in the couponing world you just gotta fight for your right (to party). Practice on easy times like this when you’re clearly right, so that you build up confidence to fight in more gray areas.

In which Kroger screws me

So I have suspected nefarious deeds of Kroger for quite some time now, but it was only today that I was able to catch them in the act. Unfortunately I did not CATCH them catch them, IYKWIM. I have no proof other than my memory.

If you shop at Kroger (or a Kroger-owned store, which are many), you are familiar with their yellow sale tags. Or I should say “sale” tags, as many of them are things like Pepperidge Farm Goldfish, regularly $1.85, this week “on sale” for $1.79!!! (actual tag from this week)

So, these yellow tags have dates on them. So for instance that goldfish “sale” says Price good through 12/31/07 (I think – something like that anyways). I assume that they do that so that they don’t have to change the tags every week – they can just leave that one up there. But they don’t just leave it up there – I guarantee that when goldfish go on sale in a few weeks for 3/$4 or something, that they’ll take down that tag that is supposedly good through 12/31 and put up a new tag for that week.

And when they are lowering the prices, I don’t really have a problem with it. But now that we have the backstory, allow me to mention what happened this week.

Starting last week, Kroger started a promotion where if you buy 15 participating products, you get $5 off your order. This has been a pretty good deal, allowing me to stock up on things like tortillas, refried beans, spaghetti sauce, tomato soup, and Kleenex, among other things. While I was in the store Tuesday night, I was wandering through the aisles and noticed that Pepperidge Farms frozen products were 50% off and also part of that sale. Garlic bread was on sale for $1.09, and one of the participating products. When I got home, I saw that there were .55/1 coupons around, so I ordered some. Since Kroger will double .55 coupons up to $1, it would make the garlic bread 9 cents each, and buying 15 would get me $5, so it would be a moneymaker. I checked the price and it said “Promotion good till 9/16/07).

So I ordered the coupons. Had the deal only been good last week, I wouldn’t have, because since it was already Tuesday and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to get the coupons in time. But “PROMOTION GOOD TILL 9/16/07!!!”, so away I went. Sure enough, the coupons came last night and I went off to Kroger.

But when I got there, the garlic bread was $1.99. The tag now says Promotion good through 10/31 (or some future date – again I forget what it was exactly). They switched the tag on me!!

Now, it is possible that they could claim a loophole that the PROMOTION itself IS still going on, so the tag last week wasn’t a lie, since it said nothing about the price, just the promotion (buy 15 get $5). But I think that this is certainly shady, and possibly illegal. If I had some sort of proof about this (like if I had taken a picture of the price before), I might bring it up to someone. But alas, I do not. And I don’t know how I could ever even prove something like this, unless I go taking pictures of tags that MIGHT change. But I definitely will be wary of sale tags that claim to go further than one week out.

Anyone want any garlic bread coupons? Because, to paraphrase the immortal Ned Ryerson, I sure as heck-fire am not paying 65.7 cents for a loaf of garlic bread.

Free Laptop part 2

My co-worker Kerry (not to be confused with my sister Kerry) and I spent some time at lunch today filling out rebates. We got 13 of them done and mailed off, so coupled with the 7 easy rebates I already did, that’s 20 down (and 39 more to go)

Free Laptop, Step 1

So today I started getting things going on my free laptop deal.

7 (I think it was 7) of the rebates are Staples easy rebates. Those can just be filled out online, so I got that going.

In talking to some people, I did get one friend of mine that did the deal. He ended up going to the same store I did, and this was his report:

“When all of the rebate receipts printed out, they were like “Oh, geez,” and told me about how someone did this the night before right around the same time. I said, “Oh, really” and giggled.”


What’s better than a free laptop?

Why, getting paid to take a laptop of course. Those of you who have followed along my crazy adventures in coupon land know that is my mantra.

So recently while browsing around online, I came across two threads talking about how you could make money buying a laptop.

Visit those threads (especially the first one) for details, but the basic gist is that you purchase a laptop, 2 printers and 14 pieces of software from Staples. Your upfront cost is somewhere around $1250. You then submit 57! mail-in rebates, netting you around $1650 back. So you get all that stuff for free, plus make ~$400 for your trouble.

The reason that it’s possible is that most of the software has a few rebates on it, making the software free in and of itself. But it all has ADDITIONAL rebates when you are also purchasing a laptop (or desktop). So Staples this week has a laptop on sale for $449.99, and also has 2 different printers that are free (or close to) when purchasing a laptop. Topping things off, they are running a special where if you buy a new laptop with 3 accessories (software included), then you get 20% off your accessories. It’s like the perfect storm of a deal!!

I had found out about this deal this past Saturday night, and have spent some time over the past few days checking things out. I wanted to make sure this was all legit because $1200 is a pretty big upfront investment. Last night I finally got the opportunity to head over to Staples to take the plunge. I first went to the Hyde Park Staples, but the guy there said that the 20% off only applied to a limit of 3 accessories, and printers were not included. This conflicted what I had been told earlier, so I left and went up to the Kenwood store. The manager there was very helpful. He gave me the 20% off on all 14 of my software purchases and the 2 printers. I mean, even without the 20% on everything, it is still a great deal, but that 20% discount adds up to somewhere around $180. I don’t know if it made a difference, but this time I first went back to the software and loaded up my cart, so they could see that I was looking to drop a couple hundred bucks. It’s funny how the prospect of a huge commission changes some people’s attitudes!! :-D

The laptop and 2 of the pieces of software were out of stock, but they were able to call a different store and take care of it then. I chose to just pay for the stuff now and then have them ship it to my house. The details:

Laptop: $449.98
2 printers: $127.96 after 20% discount
14 Software: $607.86 after 20% discount
2 $3 off coupons from empty ink cartridges: -$6.00
Tax: $76.69
Total: $1256.49

Here’s a picture of my haul, minus the laptop and the 2 software titles, which should arrive Thursday.

And now… the fun starts. As a postscript, if you’re interested in this deal, let me know and I can send you my spreadsheet. As a cautionary note, I would not recommend doing it unless you are VERY comfortable with rebates. This is not a deal for the faint of heart. You WILL have to be very meticulous and anal about filling out your forms, and pay very strict attention to the rebate details. Also, because that’s what rebate companies do, many of your rebates will be initially denied, meaning that you WILL have to call them and fight for your rebates. Luckily that process isn’t too bad, because from my experience, if you call them up and tell them you sent everything in, they will typically just approve your rebate, probably figuring if you’re going to take the time to fight about it, then you probably have all your documentation.