Saturday, February 28, 2009

Buying Stuff

I was reading Jonna's blog today and was reminded of some of the hassles of shopping here.

With starting up both the B&B and Capi's Apartment, we were doubling up on a lot of items - blenders, toasters, coffee makers, tvs. At the cash register the practice is to open each box to make sure all the parts are there, which is good in a way because it is not easy to return things to the store. But it irritates me because they do not tape the box back up, so we are left with open boxes. Transporting that stuff back to Isla and making sure nothing falls out is a feat.

One time we bought a patio umbrella at Costco. It was wrapped up in plastic and Miguel said we should check it but I declined because a) I didn't want to open the plastic that was holding it all together and then struggle keeping it all together on the way home, and b) what could really be missing from an umbrella? Well, turns out the bottom post could be missing, so we paid about $100 for half an umbrella. We had to get the metal guy here to make us a bottom post. The umbrella is less than beautiful, even if it is functional. I hate it, actually.

When we bought the tvs for the rentals, they opened the boxes too. In this case I was glad, because about 3 years ago we bought a cheap tv at Walmart. A Mitsui tv. You've probably never heard of it, and that would be because it is a secret name that does not come up on any google search with any useful information.

We got the tv back to Isla, opened the box, and found the remote control missing. I was leaving the next day for Canada so was unable to get back to Walmart to get a replacement remote. By the time I got back from Canada, I could not find the receipt so Walmart would not help us other than to give us the name of a reseller in Cancun.

We went to the reseller in Cancun and although they had hundreds of remotes, they could not find one for Mitsui. They dug through boxes of remotes and stuffed a few with batteries and pointed them at tv's, but nothing worked on the one Mitsui they had in the back of the store (not our model), so they decided they did not really have a remote for our tv. But they came up with one they said 'should' work, a universal brand. We paid about $15 for it, got home and it did not work. I finally threw it out after about 6 months of leaving it lying around to taunt me.

I researched online to try to order a remote for the tv, but Mitsui is not a brand that even comes up as a tv. I wrote the head company and heard nothing. I wrote Walmart and heard nothing. I wrote Mitsubishi since the name is close and I thought maybe they bought Mitsui and might help me. I heard nothing.

There is a remote control stand right in Walmart - a separate business. They have a glass case loaded with remotes, and some had the name Mitsui on them. The hours of business listed were not really the hours of business, because we stood there for 30 minutes after the opening time (11 am), and nobody showed up. A security person came along and called the number posted on the booth, and the salesperson on the other end said they were not coming to work that day. They 'rest' on that day, we'd have to come back another day.

We went back on a day they were supposed to be open, at an hour they were supposed to be open. Nobody was there other than another potential customer who was frustrated because she'd been trying for days to get someone to show up and help her. We gave up that day, but another day we were at Walmart we happened to see the salesperson there. Of course we were unprepared, we did not have the model information with us, but she assured us she would have a remote for us if we just brought her the information.

So...another trip to Cancun with the information resulted in the woman thumbing through all her books and then declaring that our particular model was one she did not have available. She took our information and promised to call when she found one for us. We are still waiting.

I tried to buy a universal remote in Canada, but Mitsui is not listed on any universal remote. Somehow getting up to change channels led me to desperation, so I bought one anyway, one that claimed to work with all brands.

I sat on the bed and punched in every single code listed in the darn book. The best I could get the remote to do was to turn the tv on and off, and to move down one channel at a time by pressing the 'mute' button. No volume control. We can also punch in each channel, if we happen to know which channel we want to watch (I say 'we' here, but I really mean Miguel because I hardly watch tv, and I certainly never have control of the remote).

So...we turn on the tv, start at channel 99, and press the 'mute' button to search channels. It sort of works. And we just leave the volume at 18. Occasionally the sound is so low I can barely hear it (do I care?), and occasionally it is a little loud (I fall asleep anyway).

One day I dream about buying a nice new tv for the bedroom. One with a remote that does everything it's supposed to do, and probably will do more than we'll ever need it to do (all those buttons - who actually uses them anyway?). And I still check out all the universal remotes when I'm at stores in Canada. Who knows? One day I might actually find one that says "Mitsui".


Bennie said...

Wow Sue you sound like a man talking about these remote controls. I thought that was in our genes to need the remote controls.

I hate to admit it but I had to chuckle a little here. I can only imagine how frustrated you must have been on this.

Life's a Beach! said...

Sue, I wonder if ANY of those universal remotes actually work. I sat and watched Craig's nephew, who does installs for the cable company, try to program one of those for Craig's mom. They bought four different ones and none would work. And the Costco umbrella? Fortunately, we live close to one (maybe 10 minutes away), so I can return stuff quickly. But we bought a Costco umbrella last year and there was a slit in the fabric. Back it went! What a hassle trying to lug stuff home or back to Cancun.

IslaZina said...

I have one, but the TV attached to it still works. Try Martin at Osorio's in the evenings. He may have one whose TV didn't survive. Yes, this is our lot in life!

IslaZina said...

I meant Martin may have a Mitsui!

Jonna said...

I do remember buying a tv at the Costco in Cancun and they opened the box and then just left it open. At least here in Mérida they have tape and they reseal it for you. Of course, someone stole my credit card number when we bought that tv in Cancun as well. Some days it all just goes wrong. Having to haul everything by taxi to the ferry would make it a whole lot worse.

I used to wonder where all the missing remotes went but now that I read that there are stores full of just remotes, I guess I know the answer. If they also sold toilet seats at those stores all my questions would be answered.

Scottozoid said...

the toilet seats and the remote controls are at the stall in the mercado where they also have all of the missing single socks

Islagringo said...

Do you carry a purse or shoulder bag when you shop? Stick a small roll of duct tape in it. Resealing the boxes becomes a snap.

Sue said...

Bennie - you know how patient I am! (not)

Beck - I know the ones you mean, our cable company had an issue with my tv in Canada too. But it's the fault of the tv apparently, it's too old (15 years).

Zina - which Osarios?

Jonna - looks like Scott answered your question.

Scott - thanks for helping out Jonna!

Wayne - yeah, I carry a sack, but it has to go into the parcel check, so by the time I get that out of confinement, the stuff is already on the way to being stuffed into the cab (we use Luis, who waits for us while we shop). And of course, I never really know when I'm going to buy something in a box that they're going to open. I think I'm done now, at least until someone breaks something that needs to be replaced. But good idea, thanks!

Anonymous said...

So, I take it you are MexicoSue on the ESI forum? (hee-hee)...I see some action when I Google Mitsui Remote Control, but its all in the UK...I presume you want to SEE what you are buying...

If its any consolation, I can't get my Comcast Remote to even turn ON my Sony BluRay DVD player with any code at all - I sat punching the button (for the remote to "find" the code) for an HOUR with no response....