Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Absurdly Long Post About the Pampered Chef Gift Certificates

Once upon a time, my family asked what I wanted for Christmas (as they do every year). It was a short list this time -- basically The Pioneer Woman Cooks cookbook and ol' Buddy's Cake Boss book with recipes and stories about his famiglia. To round out the list, I added Pampered Chef gift certificates, because truly, there's always something PC that I absolutely must add to my collection.

Christmas Eve. The gifts are being opened (with the in-laws). I am ever so grateful and blessed to find both of my coveted cookbooks, along with two PC gift certificates, just for me. I am ecstatic, of course, and remember telling my dear MIL and SIL that those gift certificates would most likely be spent that very night. Online. I already had the item(s) I desired in my online shopping cart. It was only a matter of time. They would be spent. Immediately.

Fast-forward to later that evening. I'm online. At the Pampered Chef website. Fine-tuning my shopping cart. Ready to place my order and redeem my gift certificates. I proceed to check-out and... wait a second... where in the world do I enter my gift certificate numbers? Hmmm... this is strange!

After what seemed like hours of deliberation, I was at my last resort. I Googled "How to use a Pampered Chef gift certificate." I'm somewhat ashamed to even admit that. Moving on... I found that apparently, you don't just go to the website, add stuff to your cart, then checkout and enter a gift certificate number as your payment method. You know, like Every. Other. Website. On. The. Planet.

That's how I started out. Thinking I was doing the right thing, of course...

Easy enough, right?

NOOOOOOOOO!

This is Pampered Chef, people! There's a super cool, fun, and easy way to do it! Check it out!

Step 1: Go to their website and choose "SHOP ONLINE." Duh.


Step 2: Scroll waaaaaaaaaaaaaay down to the bottom of the products list and choose "Gift Certificates." You know, like you're wanting to PURCHASE a gift certificate. 'Cause that's what we're trying to do. Riiiiiiight.


Step 3: Now, just choose "Redeem Gift Certificates" because, really, that's what you're wanting to do, right? Right. This is easy as pie, folks, huh? So glad you're along for the ride.

Now, you'd think that up next is some cool feature where you just plug in your gift certificate numbers and it puts a nice credit of some sort on your account. Right?

Wrong.

Now that you already shopped the website, selected your products, added them to your shopping bag, then went back and had to go through the process to apply gift certificates to your account, then guess what you get to do?

Step 4: Use a combination of your spidey senses and photographic memory to schlep out the item numbers for the products you'd like to order. Yes, you read that right. See?


No, there's no more shopping to be done. No online catalog with pretty pictures and descriptions. Just empty boxes on a web form asking for 4-digit item numbers. THIS, my friends, is how you shop Pampered Chef with a gift certificate.

But wait, the ride's not over quite yet! See, while my sister-in-law purchased my gift certificate though the Pampered Chef's website and it was all official-looking and what-not with an actual however-many-digit certificate number on it, my mother-in-law (bless her heart) bought one from a friend at work whose daughter-in-law happened to be a PC consultant. Good enough! Makes sense to me, right?

Notsomuch.

Apparently little miss consultant decided to give my mother-in-law some kind of gift certificate she's conjured up with her little computer in Microsoft Word or Publisher (gasp!) or what-have-you, so there was no official Pampered Chef anything on this little piece of paper. I'll show you.


See? I'm pretty sure Mr. One-Eyed Christmas-Gift-Carrier clip art is NOT standard Pampered Chef marketing protocol. And the "Number" that little miss consultant provided? Her phone number. Or her dry cleaner's phone number. I dunno. But not, my friends, a Pampered Chef gift certificate number. That'd be too easy, of course.

So the story gets even better. I thought maybe I'd go ahead and use my SIL's gift certificate since it had an official number that could be accepted online. But there's a twist. I hosted a Pampered Chef party last month. That means I'm entitled to a 10% discount off ALL of my purchases for ONE YEAR.

SWEET!

But wait... oh, when I try to order with a gift certificate, there's nowhere for me to put my host number for my discount.

((sigh))

Will it ever end?

Obviously I knew the Pampered Chef home office would be closed on Christmas Eve. And Christmas Day. And most likely the day after Christmas since that was a Sunday. But Monday morning, I tried to call to inquire about this fiasco I was experiencing.

Got a recording stating they were closed, but their regular office hours are Monday through Friday, 9AM til... Ya, it was a Monday on which I was calling, but I guess they were still closed for the holidays. Although their message didn't mention as such. Nor did it say when they would be opening back up. Score.

I called again Tuesday morning. I spoke to a super-rude and useless lovely service rep who was probably more confused than I was. She put me on hold to look into the debacle, then came back on saying -- get this -- you cannot use your 10% host discount when paying with a gift certificate. 

WHAAAAA?!

You've GOT to be kidding me. What difference should it make how I'm paying? I'm eligible for a 10% discount for ONE YEAR. It never said, "as long as you don't pay with a gift certificate." I of course immediately asked to be transferred to a supervisor.

The supervisor told me the same thing. I was/am shocked to my core. This is completely unbelievable.

So the supervisor offered to void my gift certificates and send a check made payable to me instead. So basically, I could either use the money to buy PC stuff or to buy some replacement pads for my Monster steamer. They wouldn't care.

Okay, cool. Let's go with that. At least that way I could order my products, use my discount and get my new stuff!

It was easy as pie for her to void out my SIL's gift certificate and get a check in the mail to me. But the lovely one from little miss consultant? The home office had NO IDEA what this lady had done or why they had no record of the purchase in their fancy computer system. They had me scan the certificate and email it to them. They said things like "reprimand" and "not the way we do things" and stuff of that nature. They were going to call little miss consultant and get this straightened out for me at once.

Until they called me back a few hours later. Then proceeded to tell me I would need to contact little miss consultant and work out some arrangement with her. Sure. This consultant who lives 700 miles away from me whom I've never met (and whom my MIL hadn't met, either). Lovely.

Now here's where I made the best move ever: I told my MIL about the situation. Would you believe in a matter of hours, my MIL had contacted her friend and informed her she would be returning the worthless gift certificate and would expect a full refund. Then my sweet MIL would just send me a check for the amount instead of having to deal with the headache. Have I mentioned how much I love my MIL? I truly do, and not just for her amazing ability to right wrongs!

So earlier today, I finally placed my order. A new 8" saute' pan and some measuring cups. That's it. That's all I was after. I never could have imagined a scenario quite like this would unfold. At least I've learned a lesson: never buy or request a Pampered Chef gift certificate.

Ever.

Oh, the Stickers...

So LO got Toy Story 3 Connect 4 for Christmas and of course she wanted to bust it out and play soon after opening it. I knew there'd be some slight assembly to put the yellow part together, but I was not at all expecting this:

The pieces. Nicely colored to differentiate between the 21 Buzz (blue) and the 21 Woody (red) pieces, huh?

Then I saw these. Oh, wow.

Forty-two pieces, front and back, equals 84 stickers to apply. Finally, 30 minutes later, we're ready to play!