Vol. 12, No. 3,009 - The American Reporter - October 19, 2006

Dungeons of Debt

by Joe Shea
American Reporter Correspondent
Bradenton, Fla.

Printable version of this story

BRADENTON, Fla. -- There are some companies, and some ideas, that have outlived their usefulness. Best Buy is one, Dairy Queen is another. Let me tell you why.

As a Best Buy customer several months ago, I found myself in a bind. My credit card payment was dueand I couldn't get it in before the due date. Being late would mean a $35 fine (you can call it a late fee, if you'd like) with the $10 payment due. As it happens, there is a Best Buy store on U.S. Hwy. 41 just south of Sarasota, Fla., about 20 miles from me. Off I went.

The store south of Sarasota is a big one in a mall with Barnes & Noble, the bookseller. They have a watcher at the door who sort of mentally clocks everyone in, and I went straight for him. Where can I pay my credit card bill? I asked.

Best Buy doesn't accept payments on its credit cards in their stores. They did have a solution, though: You can go back home, get on the Internet, find their site, register, and pay "instantly" with their online bill payment service - for just $14.95.

Well, instantly, except if you have to pay this weekend for Monday:

"PLEASE NOTE: The Online Payment Service will be unavailable Friday October 14th at 10pm ET through Sunday October 16th at 10pm ET due to system maintenance."

I don't remember what the issue was with the site on the day several months ago when I had to make a payment, but I do recall ending up having to pay the late payment, too. Fortunately, I was able to pay off the whole balance a few weeks later, and I will never darken Best Buy's door again unless they have a Going Out Of Business sale.

Anyway, I wasn't too unhappy, and not at all surprised, when the idiots who run Best Buy reported in mid-September that their incme had fallen pretty sharply in recent months. Circuit City, which is run by another set of bums - and that's another story - made money hand over fist in the same reporting period.

Why are its revenues slipping? Best Buy makes it hard for their customers to pay them. And if it's that dumb, it's been in business way too long.

Welcome To Drippy Queen

No one knows how to ruin a hot fudge sundae like Dairy Queen. Somewhere between the day they started back after World War II came to an end and today, they forgot all the essential ingredients.

Here's what you need: a couple of ounces of real hot fudge, some fresh whipped cream, walnuts in syrup and a nice round maraschino cherry atop a rounded cup of vanilla soft-serve ice cream. In contrast, here's what Dairy Queen gives you: half a tablespoon of faux hot fudge and the soft-serve. They don't sell walnuts in syrup. If you want to tablespoons of hot fudge, that's $0.25 extra. If you want a cherry on top, that's another $0.15.

Here in Bradenton there's a place called The Shake Pit on Manatee Ave. that's been around for more than 45 years. They don't ask you if you want lots of hot fudge and lots of whipped cream and a cherry on top of your hot fudge sundae. They never forgot what a hot fudge sundae is, and they can't hardly get the door closed at night with the crowds they attract.

What I want to know is why Dairy Queen stays in business if they've lost reverence for their product - and their customer? And how long are they likely to stay in business teamed with a chili outfit that probably has the same low standards?

When I got my hot fudge sundae in a moment of weakness from Dairy Queen last night, ordering extra hot fudge and whipped cream and a cherry,and the person who made it filled the tiny plastic cup to the brim. They handed it to me in a tray through their service window, and when I opened the top the melted ice cream promptly overflowed the rim, dripping down into the tray through the holes in the bottom and onto my favorite shirt. The ice cream peak had slipped off to one side, there was no whipped cream, and the cherry had lost its footing when the peak collapsed.

I parked the car and went in, and frankly, I lost my temper. One of the eight pople there said it was 10 o'clock and the sundae had to be hurried out. They didn't understand my point about a tray with holes in it. Another said that that the drips on my shirt were my fault. Didn't I have a washer and dryer? another asked. They told me to stop saying "damn" and to stop yelling at them. They finally offered me a new one, and put on the whipped cream with the paper cones they use to decorate ice cream cakes. The meager hot fudge was barely adequate to last through half the ice cream.

I won't be sorry when I see Dairy Queen's next earnings report. They have forgotten what ice cream is all about. And so I can't imagine that they or Best Buy are long for this world that still has a Shake Pit in it.

Copyright 2006 Joe Shea The American Reporter. All Rights Reserved.

Site Meter