I’ve been trying to find a bathing suit for the past several weeks. My current bathing suit is the same one I got my freshman year of high school when I never would have dreamed of needing to go on a “diet” for my brother’s wedding.
So the times have changed and my trusty bathing suit is no longer appropriate attire, not even for the middle of the ocean or the side of a swimming pool. The process of finding a new one, though, has been – well, dreadful. I’d forgotten how annoying it was to shop for an article of clothing that seems determined to make you look as awful as it possible can. Spoiler alert: it’s the worst.
Nonetheless, when we got a Belk catalog in the mail advertising 30% off the entire stock of swimwear, with an additional 20% off for using a Belk’s Rewards card, my mom and I hopped in the car and headed straight over.
After what felt like an eternity trying on bathing suits, we both emerged victorious: for the first time, possibly in my entire life, I had put on one of those spandex, stretchy, waterproof articles of clothing without feeling like a can of Pillsbury dough about to pop open. The bathing suit I chose was even pink – a color that any of my friends could tell you I absolutely despise – yet I still thought it was the cutest thing I’d ever donned.
Several minutes later, we were staring with confusion at the cashier, who was trying to inform us that we could not take an extra 20% off because the bathing suits we had chosen were “Lauren…and…Lucky…and they’re in our ‘Better Swim.'” Taking a closer look at the catalog, we noticed the teeny tiny asterisk next to the gigantic “Entire Stock,” which declared that “Better Swim” and “Everyday Value” were excluded.
But that could not be, we said, shaking our heads in our infinite wisdom. We knew with absolute certainty that there was nothing that labeled these bathing suits as “better swim,” either on the suits themselves or on any of the posters screaming about the sale. No, we decided, we would go to the swimsuit department and talk to the women there. This must be some mistake.
On our way back up, we looked at several of the racks we’d browsed at, noticing that not only were most of them labeled as “Lucky,” “Ralph Lauren,” and “Calvin Klein,” there still was not a hint that they belonged to some larger, more ethereal category. We set our faces for battle and approached the large woman with the snappy attitude behind the counter.
She rang the items up, trying to convince us that it is perfectly fine to spend $170 on two bathing suits. Which it isn’t, especially not if you’re a missionary. Of all the ways to spend supporters’ money, that isn’t one.
We fought; we argued; she called a manager, who pitched a hissy fit about having to go allllll the way to customer service to do his job and serve his customers, then hung up on her; finally, we sighed in defeat and, in a final plea, pointed out that there was nothing saying that these specific suits were “better swim.”
She jabbed a finger at the asterisk and nodded. We disagreed, clarifying that, no, we know it says so in the catalog, but it never freaking says so in the store! She sighed, said, “No, we can’t put it on every sign,” – I beg to differ; I worked in retail, and believe me when I say that yes, corporate can and will demand that you put every little detail on the sign, and then require you to place those signs in so many places around the store, you’ll wish there were no such things as sales and exclusions.
We tried one last tactic. A simple question: “What brands are part of the ‘Better Swim’ category?”
She laughed and muttered, somewhat under her breath, “Well, I can’t know that for sure! They’re changing all the time.”
That’s when we gave up. Regretfully, because we Rogerson women hate to admit defeat, we threw our hands in the air, waved the white flag of surrender, and bowed gracefully out of the store. Haha, that’s a joke. We fumed our way out of the store, throwing furious glares and hissed threats at every rack of clothing and vowing destruction and retribution, to come in the form of a letter to the corporate office whining about our misfortune and begging for some bathing suits, pretty please with a cherry on top.
Somehow, despite my fury towards the store and the fact that, no matter how you try to euphemise it, this is an example of nothing but false advertising, I can’t completely hate Belk’s because of the adorable dress I bought there.
But don’t let that glorious epitome of lacy green cuteness distract you from the point: the point is that I lost several hours of my life and a piece of my heart to Belk’s because they lied to me and I am not happy about it. I want my bathing suit, and I want it now!
Ok, so that last sentence makes me sound like a spoiled brat. Ignore the spoiled brat connotations, focus on the lies we were told and the fact that Belk’s has created a conveniently vague category in which, anytime a major sale should arise, they can shove all of the items they do not wish to discount. How quaintly corrupt.