Thursday, August 23, 2007

I'm registering a complaint. Here on my blog. Where it will do the most good.

So the stores around here, and I'm assuming in other places too, do that tax-free weekend thing for one weekend in August right before school starts. It's cool, because when you have to go spend $75,426.37 on your kids' school supplies, it saves you that whole $754.26 in tax, as we have 10% sales tax here in Leeds. I'm like, "Woo hoo, that money goes straight to the beans and jalapenos fund that Reed and I have to keep running, to keep our habits in check.

This year we did our shopping at Wal-Mart, which we really hate to do. We went through a fairly long phase in which we didn't shop at Wal-Mart at all, because we don't agree with a lot of the Wal-Mart philosophy. The owners of the company have billions, BILLIONS of dollars, and they sit pretty while a large majority of their employees are paid crappy wages and denied benefits because "full-time" at Wal-Mart is less than 40 hours so they're not required to provide benefits. That's a tricky little practice also used at Starbucks. Anyway, a HUGE percentage of their products are made in China under conditions that are, shall I say, shitty. So by spending my money at Wal-Mart I'm supporting these companies in China that are not too different from sweat shops. That place is NOT a family store, it's NOT about little, hoppy smiley faces, Jorge does NOT love his job there, no matter WHAT they tell you.

Plus, the recent scares with lead paint on toys from Chinese factories and other problems with tainted stuff including food and hygiene products have got me thinking that I might be about to be making all of Reed's toys myself. I hope he enjoys all those sticks with leaves tied to them he's about to be getting at Christmas time.

I realize that a bunch of people are just RARING to give me the "Well, where do you shop now? Do they treat employees any better, or get their stuff from places other than China, because did you know that you actually know nothing at all?" etc., etc., etc. But I'm of the belief that I have the option to choose these things, to do my best to make sure that my hard earned money is going some place good, as good as possible, even if it's not perfect. I'm just trying, here, okay? And it's especially hard right now as the Food World in Leeds has closed down, so of course the closest place to shop is Wal-Mart. We have made many, MANY inconvenient drives to Target and Whole Foods to get our groceries, which just means we're spending more on gas and polluting up the environment.

But I digress. So we gave in and did our school shopping at Wal-Mart. We bought $240 worth of stuff on tax-free weekend- Kane and Jude's school supplies, some food, and some new clothes for Kane, Jude, and Reed. As I was walking to the car, I noticed that we were charged tax. I turned around and walked up to the greeter lady and said, "This is tax-free weekend, right?" She nodded with her mouth hanging open, mouth breathing her ass off. "So then why was I charged tax?" She stood there and mouth breathed for another three seconds, and then took the receipt that I had been holding up in front of her face. She literally said, "Uuuum, ah-ahhhhhh, oh, aoooahahhuhm... Okay, that's the city tax. Tax-free weekend only applies to state tax, but you still might have to pay local tax." It sounded remotely believable to me for about a second as I know nothing of taxes, and then I looked at the receipt again and it showed that I had been charged 10% tax. So I said, "I was charged %10 tax. You're telling me that I normally pay MORE than 10% in sales tax?" She nodded empatically. Since we had at that moment a screaming, writhing toddler in our possession, I just turned around and walked off.

Since then I've found that our friend Nina did the exact same thing, and they told her the same thing they told me. Then I found that our friend Shauna did the exact same thing, but they told her that if you spend over $100 they still charge you tax- something about how they don't want random folks coming in to buy tv's and stereos and iPods and stuff just to get them tax free. And I have to say, for a split second that made sense to me. But why are they being shady about it? Why am I getting smoke blown up my ass about it? Because even though I already knew the answer, I immediately dug through my purse in the car after we left Wal-Mart that day and found several other receipts, NOT from tax-free weekend, on which I'd been charged 10% sales tax.

So, I'm pissed. Big news! I think it SUCKS, and I think Wal-Mart SUCKS, and I'm a MORON for going there to buy our stuff anyway. I really should have gone back in and returned every single thing I bought. The power of the screaming child just overtakes me sometimes. I am going back to my non-Wal-Mart ways, even if it means making a longer drive to shop, and I challenge each and every one of you to do the same. Let's do it.

10 comments:

Lindsey said...

That doesn't make sense AT ALL. I would take that specific school supplies receipt to the manager of the store as well as a receipt for items you bought NOT during the tax free holiday and compare/contrast/ask said manager to explain himself. We did a bunch of stories on the tax free holiday and the tax is extremely specific -- it has to be on school supplies or items that could qualify as educational, like computers. Joe Random can't just get $20 off his ipod b/c it doesn't qualify as an education tool and therefore isn't tax exempt or whatever. I'm not sure how that figures into the whole "you buy stuff over $100" paragraph, but it's related.

At any rate, you've just given me a good story idea for work! Thanks, Buffy! :)

Anonymous said...

Weird. Check to make sure you were charged 10% for everything (i.e.- a total of $240 would be $24). If you happened to have purchased food and other non-eligible items the 10% would show up, but the exempt items would not have been charged the full 10%. The $100 limit is for an individual article of clothing, you could have bought 1000 $10 t-shirts and been charged no state or county tax.

Here is a list of the exempt items...
http://www.ador.state.al.us/salestax/STHolidayQuickRefSheet07.pdf

Anonymous said...

part of it got cut off...

/STHolidayQuickRefSheet07.pdf

Susan Ramey Cleveland said...

Buffy, do what Lindsey said. We have friends who bought big-ticket items on that day and didn't pay tax. And they don't even have any school-age kids.

buffy said...

lindsey, i would LOVE for you to do a story on it. and i'm going to find my receipt tonight.

Kristia said...

Amen Sister...Boo Wal-Mart, Yay Target!! I know Target has their issues as well, but I think they're much lower on the Evil Scale, plus they've stood up for some things in the past that I really applaud them for! You know, I hear we're getting one in Moody...

Birdie said...

Walmart blows big booger chunks. Period. But I too find myself on rare occasions going there just because its the ONLY place in our town that's open 24 hours (and this comes in handy for those 2 am vagisil runs...) Boo DevilMart.

Anonymous said...

Obviously this issue needs a devil's advocate...
http://www.threeyearsofhell.com/archive/005124.php

Peter piper said...

But without Walmart where would I purchase my 10 gallon jars of pickles? I don't think Target or Whole Foods sells 10 gallon jars of pickles. Why should I be denied my pickles?!?

Anonymous said...

i smell a lawsuit.