OK, I'll admit it..I'm a coupon junkie. I don't necessarily cut coupons for stuff I don't buy anyway, but when I see an Internet deal where you get stuff just for signing into the website, I fall for it. Every time. Recently I saw an advertisement that if you go to Cold Stone Ice Cream's website and enter your information you will get a coupon for a free ice cream on your birthday. Whew Hoo! Free ice cream! Where do I sign??
For those of you who are not familiar with Cold Stone: it's not like a Dairy Queen, Carvel or Friendly's. This is not an ice cream place for the middle class. It's the upper echelon of ice cream. Though there is nothing particularly fancy about it.. I mean, they mix in your choice of ingredients such as almonds, brownies, cookie dough, candy, etc..but big deal. For a family of four such as mine, you really need to take out a mortgage to buy ice cream there. And that's for the "Like it" (small) size. I actually would only go to the place when my teenage neighbor worked there and he would accidentally forget to charge me the correct amount. Not only does he no longer work there but the local franchise closed down.
Anyway, my birthday rolls around and I get an email from Cold Stone. "HAPPY BIRTHDAY STACEY!!! CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR FREE ICE CREAM!!!" I am so excited, I don't waste any time and I immediately click away. Who cares if I was at work at the time? At least I know the coupon will print here. If I wait to get home to print I'll probably find out that I'm out of ink because my five year old insists on "coloring" on the Noggin web page and printing every single friggin creation she makes. I cannot take that chance. I click on the link, ignore the disclaimer and hit "I Agree". I guess I should have read the disclaimer because apparently Cold Stone is very serious and stingy about their coupons.
First, they make me choose a location. Not just the state or county I live in but I actually have to pick which Cold Stone I want to go to for my free ice cream. At first I thought that was weird because though there is a Cold Stone within 10 miles from my house, what if I'm traveling or visiting a friend and I want to go to that Cold Stone? Then my husband explained that they probably do that because it's a franchise and individually owned. OK, it's annoying but I'll let them have that point.
I then print the coupon and stick it in my purse for safekeeping. My birthday was on a Friday this year and also being the first weekend of summer it was a very, very hectic weekend. On Monday I actually look at the coupon and I'm sooo disappointed. It expires on Friday! They only gave me a week to get my ice cream! What a douche move! It's kind of like wining a free vacation and then finding out you can only go on February 29th and only the first night is free, not the entire vacation. You were sucked in and then denied!! I know you know this feeling. It's happened to the best of us. Now granted, I could go to Cold Stone that night. But I have two little ones. I get home from work at 6, and if I go get ice cream after dinner, they will be bouncing off the wall and will NEVER get to bed! By the way, the 3 year old goes to bed at 7:30..not much time to squeeze in to begin with.
At the last moment on Friday I decide to take the kids and go to Cold Stone for my free birthday ice cream. It's Friday, they can stay up a little later and I justify everything because, really, I want my God Damn free ice cream. I figure since I'm cheap, I'll get the large size and the three of us will share. I read the coupon on the way there (don't worry, my husband was driving), and I notice that the coupon is for the "Like It" size only! Douche move #2. COME ON! It's my birthday! They can't splurge and give me the "Love It" or "Gotta Have It" size? That's just so cheesy. So now this free ice cream is going to cost me money because I have to buy my kids their own ice cream instead of sharing.
So I was joking with my husband and I say "OH, they will probably ask for I.D. too". Well, guess what? On the bottom of the coupon it states that I should be prepared to show identification. I SWEAR ON MY LIFE! Don't believe me? Get a coupon. See for yourself. So ridiculous! Do they really care that much if Stacey doesn't use her free ice cream and gives her coupon to Stephanie to use instead? Is it really that big of a deal?? It's ice cream, not a bank withdrawal. In case you are curious, they didn't make me show id, but they DID make me complete a form and sign it. Cold Stone should really stop taking this birthday coupon so seriously. If they have such strong concerns with the size, time limit and the actual birthday person, then they should probably just not offer the coupon to begin with.
For your reference, I also received two other birthday promotions from franchised restaurants. Wendy's was the nicest about it. I got a dollar off of my purchase. I believe there was an expiration date (didn't use the coupon but the thought was nice). No other strings attached. YEAH FOR WENDY'S! Subway gave me a buy one get one free. That really friggin pissed me off. Why? First of all, it reminded me that absolutely NOBODY invited me out for lunch on my birthday. So, that made me feel like a big loser. Not only am I a feeling sad and lonely because nobody invited me out for lunch on my birthday, but I couldn't even use the coupon because I had to buy one to get one free! Seriously, I'm not going to buy two sandwiches and two drinks just so I can use the coupon? Geez!
So folks, learn from my mistakes. Nothing is free..and if it is free you're gonna pay for it some way or another. Perhaps the REAL lesson is to stop signing up for free food. My heart is saying YES but my ass is saying NO!