everyone else is Beating The System, why aren't you?

some blog which is higher-traffic than mine (and whose proprietress is wearing some serious blue eyeshadow) has decided to get in on the joys of legal-yet-questionable scamming, and has posted a really lovely dissection of some buy-and-return projects.

These are obviously quite a bit higher on the scale than, say, rewording your sandwich order so that you pay only half the list price, but don't worry - I'm not jealous of her superior BTS skills. In fact, I accidentally discovered a superfabuloso way to get totally free money, turned out to be kind of amazing in its simplicity but will probably get you arrested.

The story is, I was visiting Boston a while ago and stopped in at a J. Crew, where I bought a cashmere sweater that honestly I couldn't afford but it was so soft and so cuddly and such a really pretty shade of blue that I gave in to whatever weakness of will and credit card debt be damned I paid for the thing. But upon my return to New York my head had cleared, and I realized this was an utterly frivolous purchase and that not only did I not need a $200 cashmere sweater but I wouldn't ever wear it anyway, since only rarely do I venture outside of my safe colors of black, navy blue, and very dark grey (cf. the ease with which I could become goth).

So I brought the sweater to a J. Crew down the street from my office, and after waiting in line and drooling over whatever skirts and dresses were on display, the sales assistant and I discovered that somewhere in space between Massachusetts and New York, and somewhere in time between three weeks earlier and right then, I had lost my receipt. "No problem!" chirped the affable saleslady. "I can issue you store credit instead!" And proceeded to give me a J. Crew gift card good for $216 and change.

Here is the thing: Massachusetts does not have sales tax. New York does. I paid $200, and I got $216 back. And it's money that I probably would have spent anyway, over, say, the course of a year, since I like J. Crew and they have kickass sales (in fact over the 10 or so months since this whole thing occurred that $216 has turned into several pairs of quite attractive shoes and a whole bunch of t-shirts and underwear). And that tax refund was just free money out of thin air. Or out of J. Crew's coffers. Whatever.

Anyway, as I said it's probably totally illegal. And since you're Transporting Goods Across State Lines With Intent To Return Them For Store Credit, likely a federal crime at that. But ooooh that feeling of victory is juicy.

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James said...

Isn't it likely that the money is coming, not from J. Crew's coffers, but from the government? J. Crew gives you $200 plus $16 that they claim to have paid the government, reducing their tax burden by $16.

helen said...

in that case i feel both less guilty and more illegal.

when i'm taken to court, james, will you represent me?

LJD said...

There's a slight problem with your story; I happen to know, thanks to my stint in retail, that Massachusetts charges sales tax on clothing items exceeding $125. So you must have paid $3.75 tax, and thus only made a $12.25 profit...still, not too shabby.

J. Crew sweaters, however, ARE surprisingly shabby. Love their pants, their shirts last forever, but the sweaters, in my experience, fall apart like cheap pieces of crap. To further validate your decision.