Christmas Shopping: A Cautionary Tale

Okay, The middle of a hot flash may not be the ideal time to start this post, but I don’t care! Happy holidays everyone! Your celebration of choice is fast approaching and I dare say there’s a little cheer in the air.

Zsolt and I are big partakers of Christmas. We love our Christmas traditions. I’ve been holding off getting all festive for the past several weeks, just itching to pull out the miniature plastic tree we bought at Woolworths when the chain still existed, and the ornaments we’ve collected on our travels (latest edition: Santa waving from a NYC yellow cab), and the 50s Christmas records of hymns mixed with upbeat swanky party sounds, plus the Hungarian children’s choir singing tunes like Kis Karácsony, Nagy Karácsony


*Reflective sigh.

I won’t even go into what it means to me to be HERE, to celebrate NOW, to have my HEALTH, and to be so full of LOVE. I won’t go into it because you probably already know that it means everything to me. (Though I’ll likely go into it later, as the season progresses – I get so stupidly sentimental.)

Instead I’ll tell you why shopping online is pretty much just as challenging as shopping in the store.

Now look, I’m no advocate of Black Friday or Cyber Monday (Though even at the thought of those words, my mind lights up with sales for Soia & Kyo or Karen Miller – my current favourite designers of beautiful clothing for beautiful woman, meaning every woman.) but the plain fact is that Christmas is a time when along with celebrating rebirth, miracles, good will . . . we allow ourselves a little guilt-free indulgence. (Which very easily turns into guilt-full overspending if not careful, as you are about to see.)

Right: The man, otherwise known as Zsolt, wants a Nexus 4 for Christmas. Years ago I promised him a Sony hand-held play/toy thing if he graduated from his PhD. But then we were rather hit-up for an extended period of time, and that graduation present just kinda fell to the wayside. Now it’s a dated device. BUT the Nexus 4 is apparently not dated. I don’t why, maybe because it’s brand new? Who cares, he really wants it and has been working so hard I’d love to give it to him. Therefore, it has become my mission to get him this phone/toy/mini-computer thing for Christmas.

So, plan of attack:

Follow twitter feeds of people who tweet about Nexus 4.

Change homepage to Nexus 4 sales page.

Sign up for newsletter.


Which is exactly what we did until today. TODAY I get a call from Zsolt.

“Catherine, it’s going on sale in Canada at 3.00pm today!” (By the by, how could I have missed that? I’mHOOKED UP for this kinda information.)

His phone call was 10 minutes before 3.00pm.

So, what can you do, right? Drop everything and start hitting F5 on the Nexus 4 page . . . which, according to a blog post I read, refreshes a page very quickly and easily.  So I’m all F5, F5, F5, F5 for like 10 minutes. And as I’m hitting this button, I’m thinking, GEEZ, so much for not engaging in commercial craziness. But, at least I can do it from the comfort of my home.

F5, F5, F5, F4! Wrong! F5, F5, F5, etc.

3.00pm arrives and still, I’m getting a sold out message from the Google people. But then my mobile phone rings. It’s Zsolt, he’s got the sucker in his shopping cart.

“Buy it!” I say. “Buy it right now before it expires!”

And we hang up.  So much for Christmas magic and Santa surprises. I’m barking orders to the giftee to BUY BUY BUY the gift. And as he does this, I don’t stop – cause you know what it’s like with online shopping, things happen.

F5, F5, F5, F5!

Ah! I finally have the option to load it into my shopping cart. (The shipping date at this point is 1-2 weeks.)

The mobile phone rings again.

“It won’t take my card!” he says.

Ah ha! Zsolt has been struck by the cursed requirement to start a credit rating from scratch upon arrival in a new country. Really, why can’t we carry credit ratings country to country? And the same thing goes for car insurance. But anyhow. . .

“Here!” I throw him my card details and hang up after leaving instructions for him to call me back with an update.

(FYI last time the Nexus 4 was available, it sold out almost immediately. Maybe I should have mentioned that earlier – we were panicked because we knew that out there in cyberspace was a flood of competition, unseen but fierce.)

Then I return to my shopping cart and debated closing the screen. But his purchase hasn’t gone through yet . ..  and anyhow, it would take several more clicks to the actual purchase confirmation . .. so instead I try to go forward just another step with the order. But no! Google isn’t letting me because their website is being swamped with requests.

F5, F5, F5!

The phone rings again.

“There’s an error in the order! I don’t know why, but it won’t go through!” he tells me.

He taps out of the fight, and now I’m in the ring.

“I’m on it,” I tell him.

Again we hang up.

F5, F5, F5 – success! The shopping cart advances me to the next step. By now the shipping is 3-4 weeks, but that’s still fine. So in go the details, and out comes the order confirmation. Wooohooo! I got the man a phone/toy/thing for Christmas.

Feeling pretty satisfied. I call up Zsolt. “I got the phone!”

And he’s not quite as excited, for some reason.

“Hello? I got the phone?”

“I think I might have gotten it too.”

Yeah, he did after amending the purchase details – though he didn’t realize it initially. So, we both bought this crazy phone. And for some weird reason, neither of us trusts our order enough to cancel the purchase.  So either I’ll gift myself with a mobile device, or we’ll return it this evening. Either way, please take this as a warning: Shopping madness can set in anywhere, anytime. Tread carefully through the amazing sales, the free shipping, the yummy samples, the discount card with your next purchase that you feel the need to redeem right away.  (Enjoy the shopping, but beware – don’t lose your head, is all I’m saying. ‘Cause it’s easy to lose your head!)

But on the bright side of all the maddness – We got the phone! Wooohooo!

I hope you enjoyed this heart-warming story about the miracle that is Christmas shopping. Or at least, the miracle that is F5.

2 thoughts on “Christmas Shopping: A Cautionary Tale

  1. Love this! I too have been bitten by the online shopping bug. I have had to unsubscribe from every store that has been sending me [sometimes daily] emails professing this sale or that sale (lest I be lulled back into the dark ravine of overspending!). 🙂

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