Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Exploitation: Not Just For Sweat Shops Anymore

As a starving artist, you should, of course, constantly be on the look out for deals. You’re eyes should remain attentive scanning the horizon and your ears forever locked to the ground. You’re nose on the other hand should never, under any circumstances, be pressed to the grindstone. You’re an artist, and artists don’t really work. Occasionally, if you are extremely fortunate, you will find a deal so incredibly good that you will scant believe it to be true. It’s like you found some loophole in a company’s policy and they can’t do anything to stop you from saving. These are deals so good, you will feel almost guilty taking advantage of them. Don’t. Save your guilt for severe crimes and black blemishes on your soul. If you insist upon feeling guilty about saving, then you might as well stop reading this very instant. What I am going to say next could send you’re enfeebled soul to confession.

For those stout hearted starving artist who remain, let it be said: When you discover a loophole, exploit it. Don’t screw around. Don’t say you’ll only take advantage of it occasionally. Keep going back to the loophole store and keep using the loophole. Get as much as humanly possible out of this loophole. Go every day. Go multiple times a day. Don’t stop going when someone tells you to stop. Keep going until every person in that store has said to you, “Look you cheap bastard, you can’t keep doing this.” And then go back some more. Don’t stop exploiting the loophole until you are shown in writing a change in company policy and are issued some form of restraining order from the store.

Allow me to illustrate with an example from my own starvingly artistic life. In my area there opened a video rental store – part of a chain whose size I am uncertain of – which offers great deals. Even without taking advantage of the loophole I am going elaborate on you can easily walk out of the store with two movies – at least one being a new release – for two to three dollars. However, I know how to consistently walk out of said store with the same number of videos for free.

Getting multiple free rentals in one visit is, of course, a multiple step process. First this store – which shall remain nameless – offers a free dollar rental – on older DVD’s – with the rental of a new release. So, first you must find a new release and an older release and you already are getting one of them for free. Now comes the most important step, getting the new release for free. This particular store has a simple plastic canister on the counter with a sign which reads: “Free rental when you tear up a competitor’s card.” Jackpot! Now, all you need to do is produce a competitor’s card. Since the older release is already free, the new release becomes free. So, in essence, you end up getting a free rental – the older release – for renting another movie – the new release – which also ends up being free by exploiting the loophole.

Now, I can practically hear the grumbling coming back across the information super highway. “Sure, it works… once.” “They’re must be a cap on the number of times you can do this.” “You’ll eventually run out of competitor’s cards.” Excuse me a second while I chuckle condescendingly to myself. All these objections are wrong. First, it works every time, all the time. Trust me. The key here, as with all loopholes, is to just keep doing it. If you try it a second time and they call you on it, then that’s it. It was a one shot deal. Let it go. Otherwise, pump that well until it goes dry. If this involves making sure you go when different clerks are working, so be it. There is no cap on the number of times a loophole can be exploited. A loophole can be exploited until the loophole no longer exists or the store bars you from premise.

Now, I could conceivably run out of competitors cards. It could happen, but it hasn’t yet. This brings me to another bit of general advice: Exploiting a loophole may involve some legwork. In this instance, I must be sure to always be in possession of rental cards. I accomplish this through two simple means. First, I am always conveniently ‘losing’ my cards from other stores. These stores – being dedicated to customer service – are more than willing to replace said cards. Some will even give you multiple cards so you have back-ups or so you can let others rent on your account. They might as well be handing me cash. Second, I get a membership to every rental place I encounter within a twenty mile radius. Now, I don’t rent at these locations, but I do use their card. (Another great feature of this loophole store is that they don’t care where the card is from. I found a rental card I had in college – a good hour and a half away – used as a bookmark and this place did not care. As a matter of fact, I think they were impressed.)

There are other loopholes out there. They’re around. Keep your eyes open and you will find them. Here are a few things to keep in mind once you do. First, do not become combative with the clerks unless you absolutely must. It is much better to remain friendly and chipper while exploiting someone. Remember, it’s not even the clerks you’re exploiting; it’s their employer. Many clerks and lower level workers might even appreciate this sort of this. Second, don’t be too vocal about the loophole. You don’t want the loophole to be used too much – unless, of course, it’s by you. If too many people start using the loophole someone higher up in the store hierarchy will notice and change the rule and you’re done. Third, enjoy the ride while it lasts. Everything must come to an end. Don’t become bitter about all the exploitation you will be missing. Instead, cherish the exploitation you actually did. Plus, remember, there are other loopholes out there just begging to be taken advantage of.

Also, just as a general rule for life, don’t let other people rent on your video rental account. This can only lead to late fees on a terrible British gangster film which no one liked – or even finished watching. Even if you have roommates, they should not be trusted…ever.