Su Lum: Slumming
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado
You’ve all seen the ads – the Popeil Pocket Fisherman, the Veg-O-Matics – not available in stores; if you act now we’ll double your order and throw in five salmon and a case of cabbage, just call this number …
A year or so ago, a friend of mine brought over a spiffy meatloaf pan with a grease-catcher insert.
“Take it,” he said. “Can you use two?”
“How many did you buy?” I asked, but Marty just looked sheepish and pressed two packages into my hands.
I’m not much (at all) of a TV shopper, but three items I’ve seen about a thousand times piqued my curiosity. I wanted to see how the actual products compared to the advertised promises and, above all, what it would be like to order these things online (no phone calls to fast-talking salespeople for me; I know that game).
So I went to http://www.buyperfecttortilla.com to order a set of two cute tortilla pans for $10 plus $7.95 shipping and handling and a free Cut ‘n Cup veggie chopper. Get a second set free for just an additional $7.95.
Right away I ran into a snag when the computer insisted that I had given it the wrong address. It turned out that you may not write, “Box 1571.” You have to write, “Post Office Box 1571.” Yeesh. Furthermore, you may not write, “310 E Main,” you have to write, “310 East Main Street,” so watch out.
Thus satisfied, the computer allowed me to enter a blitz of tortilla-bowl praises including a little movie showing how to use the scalloped pans to bake (“Baked, never fried!”) any size of tortilla into what we know of as an edible container for taco salads.
I then moved on to the purchase phase of the operation, and it didn’t take very long before I understood exactly how Marty had ended up with a car full of meatloaf pans.
First, you are asked how many “two for the price of one” sets you would like to order.
I wanted only one set: two pans plus the free recipe book and the veggie chopper. I did not want to pay $7.95 for postage and handling to get a second “free” set. Hmmm.
I pressed 1, thinking I could always bail out at the end.
A special offer popped up on the screen. Would I like a second set of tortilla pans for just $7.95? “YES” flashed in big, red letters. Wait a minute – hadn’t I already ordered two sets of two pans, making four pans? If I hit “YES,” would that be six pans or eight pans? Way down on the page, in tiny, light-blue letters, read the option, “No thanks.”
I hit “No thanks,” and another offer came up, then another. I was in tortilla-bowl hell, hitting “No thanks” until my index finger ached. I don’t remember what all the specials were, and I’m not going to go back in there just for the sake of investigative reporting. All I know is that if I had said “YES!” to all the offers, I wouldn’t have been able to fit the boxes into my house.
In the end, I think I ended up with two pans and the veggie chopper for $17.95, but the order hasn’t arrived yet. When the orders for the tortilla pans and the Hurrycane (a walking stick I don’t need – yet) and the Olde Brooklyn Lantern get here, I’ll write a product review.
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Aspen City Council’s recent actions are proof that you get what you pay for, argues Elizabeth Milias in her Red Ant column this week.