I’m like a dog with a bone. The more ridiculously complicated you make something, the more likely I am to pursue it to fruition.
Every year, I buy a new supply of expensive contacts lenses, and every year the company, Coopervision, offers a rather substantial rebate. In the old days, you filled out paper forms, pulled sides off of boxes and sent everything in, along with a receipt from your doctor, eye of newt, a piece of the Ark of the Covenant, your cholesterol numbers and your firstborn’s vaccination records. Correspondence was quaintly through the actual mailbox, and the first rejection would be something along the lines of “Yes, but you did not circle the date in red, as per required on page forty-seven of our rebate instruction manual.” Now I am a rule follower. If they requested only flash-frozen eye of newt from states north of the Mason/Dixon line, that is what I would send. I don’t know how the circling only in red ink slipped by me, unless I simply wasn’t seeing very clearly, and then whose fault is that, really?
Anyway, after months of back and forth, eventually I would get a cash-money check. Per hour, my compensation for this activity, minus postage and drinkage, probably netted an hourly wage of approximately eleven cents.
Over the years, many things changed. First you could fill out the paperwork online, but you still had to send in the box tops. This year, you could fill out the paperwork online, take pictures of the receipt and boxes, then upload them. This was very high-techie exciting for me, as I actually can take pictures with my phone! (It’s just the dang toaster and television that have me stumped.)
But some things never change. Rejected. Again. Of course I was out of town when I received the rejection e-mail, and I somehow managed to erase it, so I did not have the stated reasons for the rejection, nor the all-important tracking number. I tried to reapply for the rebate, but after filling out all the forms online again, the application was denied, as someone at my address had already filed a rebate claim …
They had an e-mail form on their website, which I diligently completed: Name, e-mail address, real address, phone number, cell phone number, age you first had sex … all required fields, and then … tracking number. Required, or the e-mail wouldn’t go through.
Luckily, they have a phone number listed, as well. I called, listened to all the options, did not push numero dos para espanol, but hit the correct buttons when the options seemed to slightly resemble what I needed. Somehow, I got into the continual loop labyrinth, always ending up at the main menu, and eventually hung up, as I don’t think there was ever really a live person on the other end. Perhaps I didn’t factor in the time change from here to India.
Finally I decide on the live chat. I reach Roberto B, whose typing seemed quite friendly. He finds the secret code we need, and looks up my file. Evidently I did not have the eye exam date and the proof of contacts purchase, and did not have the qualifying postmark date. He then quickly explained that they just put the postmark date disqualifier on every submission that gets rejected, it doesn’t mean you really missed the postmark date. Ah, that makes sense.
I asked if he had a copy of the picture I took of the receipt. He said “yes.” I explained, “See on the left-hand side of the page, there is the date, right there. Move over to the middle column and you see the contact purchase.”
“Well ma’am, your picture is too small, you will need to take another one and zoom in so that we can read the document clearly.” “You can’t zoom it yourself and see? I can.” “No, ma’am, it just becomes blurry. You’ll need to take another picture and send it to us.”
I informed him that I had been wearing their contacts probably longer than he had been on earth, and every rebate I have ever submitted over the years had been rejected on my first try. I questioned if employees were perhaps paid bonuses on numbers of rejected applicants, hoping that many would simply give up.
I then asked if he really thought I was trying to pull a scam, or perhaps, just maybe, their rebate regulations are a bit arbitrarily complicated. Believe me, if I were planning a big heist, it would certainly be for more than forty-five dollars. Give me a little credit.
We finger chatted a bit more, and then he reminded me that the requested zoomed-in picture had to have the complete receipt in the picture. So I am to zoom in but yet keep the whole 8 1/2 x 11 sized receipt in the picture? That’s a neat new trick, and I’m an old dog.
I then asked for a good old-fashioned physical address to send in my paper receipt. This I did, making sure to circle the date (in orange, with giant arrows pointing to it) circling and drawing a big eye around the exam information (in red, with arrows) and highlighting the contact lens purchase in neon yellow, with yet more arrows.
I am confident that with a just a few more interludes and a final request for a report card from my first-grade teacher, I will receive my coveted Visa gift card sometime in 2018. I hope I can figure out how to use it.