When Winning Goes Wrong

It was like something out of a Monty Python sketch. It should have been so simple – you win a prize, you claim a prize.

It was the first golf comp of the season and we’d just performed out of our skins, and as the new sponsor “Lucie F. Joaillerie”called us up as the brut (gross) winners, we were ecstatic.

The prize for winning outright was 150€ each towards jewelry at the sponsor’s jewelry store, which seemed cool. (Turns out we would have been better off just waiting for the ‘lottery’ prizes as they went up to over 2,000€ in value!) Phil didn’t want his voucher (surprise surprise) so really I had 300€ to spend, which was a little more interesting.

After the prize-giving I perused the shelves to see what I could get with the gift certificates!

Turns out it wasn’t much. The average price of a piece in the shop was around 1100€. I decided to come back and spend some time finding something, anything that I could redeem the certificates for.

No, no, no

A couple of weeks later I was buzzed into the fancy boutique. I’d never go into a shop like this normally as it’s pretty expensive and besides, I make my own jewelry.

After the customary “bonjours” were exchanged I explained I had won a competition a few weeks back and I was here to claim my prize. I figured she should know ahead of time so she wouldn’t have to waste time schmoozing me. I also wanted to see if I could combine the prizes – I explained that my partner and I won together and that he didn’t need anything. She ummed and ahhed and I explained that the gift certificates didn’t say I couldn’t combine them (they didn’t even have an expiration date), and that since we won as a team it’d be nice to use them together. She agreed to allow it. ‘This time.’

I spent a good 20 minutes searching for something around 300€, and I had a choice of about three items. I chose a frail-chained necklace with a tiny circle outline pendant that was literally just tied around the necklace. All I was thinking was “c’mon this would take me 2 minutes to make,” but alas I’d found something and I was in a rush. She rung up the necklace and said “that’ll be 305€” and I took out the gift certificates.

“Oh no no no, you can’t use those together.” HUH?

She explained further, “I thought you meant you won two different prizes and you wanted to combine them – like the long drive and closest to hole. You can’t use two of the same certificates together.” I was shocked. I’d done what I could to avoid this exact situation, not to mention the prizes for long drive and closest to the hole were bracelets (not vouchers) so it would have been impossible to do what she’d suggested anyway – something she should know as the sponsor.

“So now you’re saying I have to buy two separate things for 150€?” I asked. Her response was a twisted face that I would expect from someone in an Overactor’s Anonymous class attempting to express obviousness with a bit of disgust thrown in. I was already late to meet my friends so I just said I’d come back another time and find two things for 150€ each, because for some reason that’s different. I’d had a hard enough time finding something for 300€, what could there possibly be for 150€? Paperclip maybe?

Round 2

Another couple of weeks later I had 45 minutes to kill and the gift certificates were rolling around in my bag, so I decided to return to the bijouterie. Buzz. I walked in and looked across the shop to the owner. I reminded her again that I won the gift certificates and I was good to just look around.

These small boutiques are awful, when there’s no one else there you can just feel the eyeballs of the staff burning into your head – especially when you can see they think you don’t belong there.

There were some leather cords with a tiny metal clasp, and a string (string!) bracelet with a terrible badge that said “amour” or “bae” and other nonsensical stuff on them for 120€. I kept looking. In the outside windows there was a display with different styled earrings. One was a blue star, one was a lightening bolt, one a heart with a small diamond in it (not a fan of heart-shaped stuff). Beside each was a price tag, one said 140€ and the other 120€. Fine, great. At this point I just wanted to get something, anything, and get out of there. I could always give earrings as gifts to someone.

“Can I see these please,” I requested, and the owner came and took them out of the case. “Thanks I’ll take those,” and off she was to the counter. As she began to flip through her paperwork and enter things into the computer she pulled out a tray of extra earrings, the matching pairs I’d thought. She showed me there was a pink version of the star earring, I said no thanks, “blue is fine.” I set out the gift certificates plainly out on the tiny desk she was working on and over the next ten minutes she spent doing whatever she needed to do I meandered around the shop looking at the overpriced jewelry and looking forward to never stepping foot in this shop again.

Finally she was ready, and I walked up to the counter. She said “ze total is 260€” and I looked down at the gift certificates and shuffled them slightly towards her. Then like a petulant child she mildly exploded, “Mais non!! The total for the transaction is 260€! The certificate is for 150€!”

Then my brain exploded a little.

These were TWO SEPARATE ITEMS, TWO PURCHASES, TWO CERTIFICATES, but because she refused to ring them up separately, I couldn’t use both coupons. It’s at this point I imagined taking the lovely, heavy crystal on her counter and systematically smashing each poncey display case. But I swallowed my anger.

Since she wouldn’t let me buy both pairs at once, I said “I’ll just take the lightening ones then for 140€,” through gritted teeth. She turned around to her colleague and opened the box she’d just spent 5 minutes preparing. Inside was one lightening earring, and one blue star. She took out the blue star and showed me an earring box with one earring in it. “You just want the one then?”


Apparently, in this shop you buy ‘earrings‘ one at a time. And one earring costs 140€. And while she was willing to selling me ONE EARRING separately, she was not willing to selling me two single earrings in two transactions so I could redeem my every-second-more-frustrating “prize” of a burst forehead vein.

I couldn’t believe what was happening. It’d be like walking into a shoe shop and saying ‘I’ll take that style shoe.’

Do you want the other one? That’ll be another 140€.

So I looked her in the eye and said with steely reserve, “Yes. I want the one.”

Now it’s a matter of principle.

I thought to myself, ‘I am going to take this one single useless stupid earring, because I can, and because you as a sponsor should fulfill your end of the deal.’ Phil and I won this competition, and we’re gonna get our prize value. I realize this woman wants me to spend money in her shop. I get it. But as I said, I make my own stuff and I don’t need a 2000€ bracelet. BUT who knows, one day I might need something from a jewelers, and if I’d had a nice experience I might have come back to her shop or referred people there because ‘she was such a lovely woman’. She sponsored a golf competition to help build her business’s reputation. So why is she being such a $#@%?

In the end Phil made ANOTHER trip into the shop to redeem the second gift certificate and the woman was not there, so there was no debate, no problem, no worries. Funny that. And now I have a full set of rose gold lightening bolt earrings that I wore the other day. They’re alright.

Realistically I’m just glad they’re on my shelf instead of hers.

3 Replies to “When Winning Goes Wrong”

  1. Hilarious….in the US, many courses provide pro shop certificates. How many pairs of gloves or markers or towels or shirts must one buy? The Keystone Course in Summit County gave certificates good towards a round of golf. Now that’s a prize! But no matter what they say CASH rocks.

  2. David Webster says: Reply

    You must remember, dear. You are in France!

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