I had a nice bit of serendipity recently, and I don't mean the terrible chick flick of that name I was forced to watch a few years ago. You know, the one set in the eponymous midtown ice cream parlor, with John Cusack playing the same role he does in every single movie he's in.
No, I mean the gods smiled upon my credit card spending/technology purchasing ways.
My DVD player died last month and I had to get a new one.
I briefly contemplated getting a hi def model, but the format war between Blu Ray and HD DVD was still raging then – although it looks like Blu Ray has won the battle now – and I didn't want to pick the wrong one. And, frankly, the hi def machines still cost at least $300 and I don't watch DVDs that often.
(Actually, to digress for a second, now that it looks like Blu Ray has won, it has made my upcoming video game purchasing decision easier. I've been going back and forth between getting a Sony Playstation 3 or an X-Box. The Playstation comes with a built in Blu Ray player (and I think they usually give 5 free movies too) so I'm probably going to go that route.
And just a sidenote on that: I have a friend who got married last year and when I mentioned to him recently that I was going to get a video game player he went batshit: “Don't do that, you're crazy. What a waste!”
I couldn't figure why he was so exercised about this - and then I realized: it's driving him absolutely CRAZY that I can spend my money on a Playstation without checking with anyone, and sit up to 3 am playing it if I want to. He's not allowed. Heh.)
So on the DVD front, I decided in lieu of an HD player to get an upconverting model, which brings your DVDs up to near hi def quality when you hook it up to the TV with an HDMI connection. And I figured I would up the ante and go for a DVD recorder and combo VHS. I never tape anything anymore on VHS (do they even still sell blank tapes?) but I have some old movies on the format, and this way I can still watch them or even transfer them onto a blank DVD. And, of course, now I can record movies onto a DVD and not have them limited to staying on my DVR cable box from Time Warner.
Now, as part of my Continental frequent flier program, I get periodic emails from them to answer survey questions about various products and companies. It takes about 2 minutes to fill out each little survey (half the time I just make up the answers) and I get 250 miles each time. I've already put 6,000 miles onto my frequent flier account over the years this way.
Well, as luck would have it, one came in last month and one of the surveys was about Circuit City. It also provided a link to the store's web site and said if I bought anything from it through the link, I would get a $50 discount.
Bingo. So I surfed over, found a beautiful Toshiba (I'm a big Toshiba fan; they've made my last 3 TVs, including my HD, as well as this DVD unit now) upconverting DVD recorder/VHS for $165. Minus the $50 discount, I would get it for $115.
But when I went to pay, the web site asked not only for my credit card number, but the security code, that little 3 digit number by your signature. Well, over the years, it must have rubbed off and I couldn't read it. You don't need it when you're using the card in person, but apparently you do for an online order. It wouldn't process my order without that number, so I called Citibank, explained what had happened and asked if they could just give me a new security number over the phone so I could enter it on the Circuit City web page.
Natch, they wouldn't and the girl said she would have to send me a new card. But I didn't want to wait for it to arrive, so I used another credit card I keep solely as a back-up, and that I've never used before.
Well, apparently this card, an AT&T MasterCard, had a reward program giving me a $50 rebate on my first purchase with it. I had totally forgotten about that until the credit card bill showed up in the mail Saturday with the DVD purchase on it: $115 minus another $50.
I got the damn upconverting DVD recorder/combo VHS for 65 bucks!
Less than some DVD movies cost. Happy birthday to me.
(It actually is amazing how inexpensive DVD players are. Just a plain machine, without the upconverting, and not a recorder just a player, costs only about $50. It's the old disposable razor or printer ink cartridge theory. The machines themselves don't really cost much, but they get you over the years on the refills. Bastards.)
Anyway, I would just like to thank Continental, Circuit City, Toshiba, Citibank and AT&T for coming together to serve me.
And when I get my Playstation, I will, of course, invite my bud over to play it so I can witness the envy firsthand. Good times.
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