When the best deal isn’t the right one

So I did A Thing a few weeks ago and bought a Vitamix. We can debate whether or not I actually needed to pull out the big guns for making smoothies or whether I could’ve stuck with a $50 blender, but the fact is I was sick to death of my roommate’s awful Magic Bullet (I seriously hate those. You can’t run them for more than a minute at a time because they are wimpy pieces of junk, there are always whole frozen berries at the bottom, and the stupid design means I’ve poured milk into the container, screwed on the top with the blades, flipped it over, and promptly had all that milk leak everywhere). I was looking to get something else RIGHT NOW (well a few days later anyway. I did my research like a good money-conscious person) and a Vitamix seemed to be a good choice.

I’ve heard good things about Vitamixes (including that they can handle frozen bananas which are actual rocks). Plus I did the smart thing and bought the certified refurbished for hundreds of dollars cheaper than a new one and it comes with a 5-year warranty. I figure in 5 years it’s likely I’ll have gone through a bunch of $50 blenders (I’m making a lot of smoothies lately now that I’m not stuck with the Magic Bullet) so I’ll come out even, if not ahead. But yes, friends, I just let my pursuit of smoothies delay financial independence. Probably totally worth it–smoothies are great, especially for times when there’s not enough time between getting home from work and working out to make an actual meal but I’m hungry and need something to eat before class. And let’s not pretend like the range of uses for a Vitamix is solely limited to smoothies.

In addition to this Thing, I have a problem with browsing Amazon and seeing that things have gotten cheaper since I’ve bought them. This is exciting when it works out in my favor, but sometimes it just makes me mad (what do you mean the daypack I bought a few months ago for hiking is now significantly cheaper??). To wit, I put a certified refurbished Vitamix on my Amazon wishlist when I was looking into these things but ultimately bought directly from Vitamix because with a coupon for free shipping it was cheaper that way. Lo and behold, what do I see today when I get on Amazon to check the return status of something else?

Wait, $287??!?

Woah, hang on. Let me go check the Vitamix website to see what’s happening there.

Still $299.95. But at least it’s still cheaper than $329.95.

Nope, that’s the same price I bought it for.

So the price difference between what I paid and what Amazon is currently listing it for is $13, which really isn’t that much. However, let it be known that I am not above getting $13 back on something. Oh, no. I recently bought a new raincoat at REI only to take it back a week later. When they asked me why at the register, I had to give the totally awkward answer that I found it cheaper on Amazon. Whatever, that $20 was totally worth it (plus I got extra exercise walking back to REI to return it). I wouldn’t have gotten that money back if I hadn’t still been looking at the raincoat a few days later only to suddenly see it on sale.

Another example? I broke down and bought an Actual winter coat this year because I’m allergic to wool and cheap non-wool peacoats can only do so much for you. After a long time spent researching down coats I ultimately bought one that a coworker has in a different color (life is too short and winter is too long for boring black outerwear). I reluctantly spent $176.01 (such a random number), knowing that this was ultimately a good decision: warm coats are a necessity to people like me with thin southern blood who hate the winter and being cold.

You could argue that I should’ve been searching thrift stores for months in order to find a good, warm, used Actual winter coat. This is undeniably true but the thing is that I’m working on more enlightened spending and sadly haven’t gotten to advanced levels of used clothes shopping yet. I’m trying though. Anyway, still not resigned to having spent that much, I was occasionally checking the price and found it a few weeks later at $129.99. That was the fastest I have ever bought anything, ever, and thank you for your free returns on items like coats, Amazon. This is all pretty ridiculous, but whatever. I DO NOT APOLOGIZE FOR ANY OF THIS EMBARRASSING AND SHAMELESS SCHEMING FOR THE CHEAPEST WAY TO BUY SOMETHING.

So because this is me and I’m gonna get that $13, I have two options. One, I can tell Vitamix I’m returning the blender because I’m still in the 30 day window, then buy the newly cheaper one on Amazon. Or two, I can call Vitamix’s customer service and politely ask for the price difference. The latter seemed easiest, so over my lunch break today I got out my phone and (ugh) called customer service.

After being on hold for 20 minutes (because everyone has noticed the Amazon deal and is calling to get money back?), the customer rep told me that Vitamix doesn’t offer price matching of any sort, including if you bought something directly from them and a week later they’re offering it for less. Um, this seems like a bad business plan to me, but far be it from me to tell them how to run their company. After all, I’m one of the suckers who bought something from them.

But this leaves me with the first option of returning my current blender and getting it again on Amazon, which actually would be more expensive for Vitamix. They offer free return shipping if you aren’t happy in the first 30 days and based on how much I got waived from my free shipping when I ordered it, they’d have to pay a few dollars more in shipping than if they’d just given me the price difference. That’s on you, Vitamix!

However, now that this is my only option, instead of immediately ordering the cheaper blender, I’ve actually stopped to think about what that would entail. For one, I’d have to pack my blender back up in the box, and then carry it to work so I can put it in the outgoing mail, which is how I get around having to schedule UPS pickups for returns. This thing is heavy so the thought of having to carry it almost 20 minutes to work is not enticing and not really worth the $13 despite the fact that it would be an excellent workout. It would probably leave me really gross and sweaty by the time I got to work that morning, and that’s not nice to my coworkers.

I’m also conscious that instead of shipping my heavy blender one way, this little scheme of mine would mean it gets shipped three ways. I’m way worse than I should be about stopping to think about the environmental implications of me ordering and returning things, probably because getting free shipping on most of what I buy means I’m never really forced to think about it. This seems to be the case for so many things in general: they’re subsidized (like the real cost of roads!) so we aren’t actually forced to pay for or confront their actual cost and impact. But the impact of shipping a super-light down coat three ways isn’t anything near what doing the same with a heavy Vitamix would be.

The more I think about this, the more it seems that this would be an irresponsible (dare I say penny wise and pound foolish?) course of action. As an American, I already have an outsized impact on the environment just in my daily life, and I am well aware that spending less money on things I don’t actually need is so much better for the planet in general. In addition to the shipping issue, this is also why I feel better buying a Vitamix, which should last a long time, instead of a bunch of cheaper blenders that will probably break. I’m buying and getting rid of fewer blenders that way, which means fewer resources used and fewer broken blenders in the landfill! So, as hard as it is, I’m gonna let this deal go instead of unnecessarily shipping multiple Vitamixes across the country. I’ll just have to try to cut down my spending on groceries by $13 this month to make up for it instead!