The No Tangle Brush

Kalista’s No Tangle Brush came in the mail today.

Which means she’s spent the 30 minutes since we got home and retrieved the mail telling me how wrong I was for advising it’d be a “piece of crap.”

I’ve heard the following sentiments:

“Look, Dad! No hair is left in the brush!”

“It glides through perfectly!”

“I got not one, but TWO brushes!”

She’s been like a Jehova’s Witness version of Leann Rimes.

I CAN’T BLAME HER for being excited, honestly. When the biggest obstacle in your life is brushing your hair without blood-curdling screams and the day finally comes that you own a product that will address the situation, it’s got to feel like winning the Nigerian lottery without sending your life savings in a money order over to the First Bank of London.

Plus she gets the satisfaction of knowing her father was incorrect.

“Dad, you’ve got to see this brush,” she said to me as I was cleaning the kitchen after dinner one night last week. “It brushes your hair without tangling, won’t pull any of your hair out … ”

“That sounds too good to be true,” I replied with even less enthusiasm than I actually had.

But she sounded really psyched.

“Fine. Rewind the DVR to the commercial you saw and I will check it out.”

I found a stopping point in my housework and joined her in the living room, where she’d been sitting for the last 15 minutes with the commercial paused at the beginning.

“You ready?” she asked like she would if I were about to see the first Bruce Willis movie of my life.

“All right. Let’s go.”

The TV began playing one of those infomercials. One of those infomercials offering a product that will change your life, like an ice cream maker that also creates baby unicorns swaddled in blankets laced with gold. One of those infomercials I despised.

“That’s pretty cool,” I said about 3/4 of the way through. “We’ll have to get one when they start selling them in stores.”

“But Dad, wait!”

“Order now and we’ll double your order. You’ll not only get the amazing No Tangle Brush for$14.95 plus shipping and handling, but we’ll double … ”

It was $20 I didn’t mind spending. We went through a similar experience with an animal-shaped pillow that projected a bunch of shit on the ceiling. We went through it again when it came to animal-shaped slippers that flopped like car accident victims every time she took a step.

I had a simple plan when it came to infomercial products: wait for them to come out in stores, buy there and return them if they sucked. That way, there’s no hassle getting my money back.

But this brush was actually “these brushes” when bought over the phone or online. That’s a savings of 50 percent minus the cost of shipping a hair brush compared to buying in a store – PLUS we wouldn’t have to hope Jesus didn’t come back before they appeared on Walgreens shelves.

“Okay,” I said. “We’ll get them.”

And she responded like Billy Graham finding out he was having tea with Abraham.

I MADE THE PURCHASE on the product website. A total confirmation never happened – just acknowledgement that my order was complete. An hour later, I got the receipt in my e-mail: $26.85, or something close to that. Apparently, they’d charged shipping and handling on the second brush, bringing the total shipping cost to more than $10.

For two hair brushes.

I thought not.

I returned to the website and found a number for customer service. After a 10-minute hold, I was connected to an operator at “The Customer Service Center.” I knew this was going to be trouble because it should have been “Customer Service for the No Tangle Brush,” but it was instead some generic piece of crap call center that probably also offered support for Japanese rototillers, boobie tassels and Colonial Penn life insurance.

“Can I have your last name and zip code, please,” requested the guy at the other end.

I complied. He told me he did not have the order in “his” system yet. It usually takes three to four hours for him to get the order in “his” system. But they were about to close for the night. I should call back in the morning, but definitely before 10 a.m. because they usually put the orders on the truck before 10 a.m.

“I doubt that,” I said, interrupting the spiel he’d clearly spouted more than once.

“Huh?”

“It takes one hour for a receipt to be e-mailed, three to four hours for customer service to get the order in your system and four to six weeks to get this gemstone I was charged 11 to mail, but you’re going to tell me they’re Johnny-on-the-spot when it comes to loading the truck? That’s unlikely.”

He paused, cleared his throat and paraphrased what he’d just said.

The following morning, I called back at 9 a.m. After entering my last name and zip code, this particular customer service center associate announced without hesitation that my order was already on the truck.

“I want to cancel my order. ”

“You can’t.”

“Fine. I’ll just call my bank and cancel the payment.”

There was a pause. A triumphant, arrogant pause. I’d won.

“Why do you want to cancel, sir?”

I wondered how to handle it. On one hand, the guy seemed to have rehearsed this before, which was probably why he told me the hair brushes – now worth less to me than the cat litter I find stuck in the tread of my dress shoes after I’ve cleaned the litter box – were beyond the point of return the instant he entered my information into the system. On the other, though, he was willing to clean that litter box with his bare toes if I asked.

“The ad led me to believe it would only charge one shipping and handling fee, which would be about right because I’ve mailed things first class before and know $6 is about all it should cost.”

He then gave me some bullshit about it being “clearly stated” on the infomercial that the shipping handling would be charged for each. I was in no mood for this nonsense.

“Look, buddy,” I began calmly. “I believe you about the ad. If you say it’s there, it probably is. But at the end of the day, I’m still paying 30 for two hair brushes. I don’t want to do that.”

The guy offered to take $5 off my order. I said it wasn’t good enough, so he offered $10 and I accepted.

The blood-sucking telemarketers began the following night. I had to tell a woman three times (the third time was kind of forceful) not to enroll my debit card and me in some nonsensical dining and gas club that would automatically withdraw $30 from my checking account each month. All I had to do anytime was call and cancel. It was a lot like serving someone moose semen for a beverage because he or she hadn’t caller to cancel. It was a devious way to sell things.

AS CRAZY AS IT may seem, I’ve come to terms with my hair brush binge. It’s only mildly unpleasant to share my story, as I am pretty certain I am not the first person to succumb to the temptation of crap like that.

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