Coupon Clipped!

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I am one of those people who can happily clip coupons for an hour, then leave them in my car or at home, along with my reusable grocery bags. I really would like to save money, but somehow the effort put into collecting the coupons is trumped by my haste to get the shopping finished.

So when I do remember the coupons, I find it extremely annoying that there are limitations in the fine print on said coupons. And it is almost always on the specific items I would like to purchase. The first time this happened, I intended to buy a make-up item, but naturally the brand I wanted was listed in the fine print as being among those where the discount did not apply.

The second time a nice coupon from being a member of some loyalty program came along, that same thing happened. I went to purchase the item, happy that I was getting a 50% break on the marked-up price, only to find out that said item was not included in the discount. “That just figures,” I snapped. I felt as though I had been duped again, lured into the store with what appeared to be something great, and then leaving angry.

Retailers, listen up! Either offer a coupon that applies to EVERYTHING. or do not offer one at all! Consumers join your loyalty programs left and right, only to discover that their savings are extremely limited, or their VIP coupons do not work on everything they wish to purchase. Lord knows you’ve already jacked up the prices to cover untold costs and still ensure a profit, so why limit what is supposed to be a reward? And you restaurants? Ditch the “buy one/get one half off as long as you buy two drinks” deal too! Every consumer out there knows your soda fountain syrups only cost the restaurant pennies! Why continue ensuring profits but losing customers this way?

Remember the rule: it costs you seven times more money to land a new customer than it does to keep a happy and returning customer.

Businesses simply need to stop toying with coupons and discounts to ensure they actually stay in business. And isn’t that what a business dreams of in this unstable economy? The next time you are about to offer a coupon, make sure it is genuine and all-inclusive, and then sit back and watch your customer base grow.

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The Miss/Mrs./Ms. Debate Researched

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It has always driven me wild when a married woman signed her name on correspondence as “Ms.”. All my daughter’s female teachers did this, and even my name-badge was printed “Ms.” when I clearly indicated I was a “Mrs.” I had to get this annoyance off my chest, so I naturally turned to Facebook to vent. Little did I know this post regarding the use of the title Miss/Mrs./Ms. would spark such a debate. I had stated, “One more time, from the top: when one does not know the marital status of a female, use ‘Miss’. ‘Ms.’ is for a woman who is no longer married. The ‘Mr.’ is gone. Get it?”

I received an earful from friends and others about this, from “I did not know this. Interesting….” to a lengthy post stating very politely, “I appreciate what you are saying but I disagree. Mrs. does refer to married and Miss can refer to single woman. Any woman, according to 1978 edition of, Amy Vanderbilt’s Complete Book of Etiquette states that a woman regardless of marital status can elect to use Ms. rather than Mrs. or Miss.

Because I was now curious when this title evolution took place, a little research was merited. I first stopped by the website www.ecenglish.com, but quickly noticed no one had remarked on it since 2009. Still, the same question was there; when to use Miss/Mrs.//Ms. A few of the comments confirmed my Facebook post thoughts, and a few were more along the lines of Amy Vanderbilt’s rules.

My second stop was an English language learning website, www.eslcafe.com. If you don’t think English is the most difficult language on the planet to learn, what with all of our homonyms and rule-breaking “i before e except for weird” exceptions, please let me know. (Having now taught it for 15 years I couldn’t explain some of these things if my life depended on it.) Author Dan Oliver stated Ms. should be used neutrally like Mr. is for males both married and unmarried.

Ms. is used for three occasions, he continues, those being for a woman in a position of authority, like a teacher; if one does not know the woman’s marital status; or if the woman is the addressee’s age or older. Tell me that isn’t going to get someone in trouble trying to guess!

It is a matter of choice when it comes to a divorced woman still using her ex’s last name. She can still be Mrs. What-Was-I-Thinking? if she wants to be. Mrs. can also be used by widows. My head was starting to spin, and I was born here!

For years I have taught a book in my English classes where a much older woman, a teacher, went by Miss. When the father, talking to the son about the problem with her, addresses her as Mrs., he is corrected by the son stating “It’s Miss.” The father snidely replies, “That figures.” The meaning is clear – no one had ever asked her to get married because she was so nasty.

Since the writing of that book, though, the feminist movement has declared that Ms. can be used for any mature woman’s title. The website www.womeninbusiness.about.com goes into a discussion about the former use of the word mistress when it was still the feminine version of mister and not something tawdry. Definitely one of the English language’s smarter moves. Author Lakle Wolfe concurred that the word has been compressed to Ms. for married or unmarried women.

The only thing that is clear is Miss and Mr. can easily stand on their own if when addressing someone and one does not know his or her last name. For example, “Excuse me, Miss?” “Hey, Mr.?”

So I stand corrected, but I still don’t like it. Fortunately, with our hasty speech these days, the address is likely to come out “Mizz” anyway. Either way, etiquette fans, you’ll be safe.