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Squirreling gone wild: The Extractor

Some people complain about products just so they can get them for free. Know anyone like that?

By MSN Money Partner Mar 2, 2011 4:50PM

This guest post comes from Squirrelers.


Do you ever complain about bad service at a restaurant? Do you contact a company if you purchase a product that doesn't live up to your expectations?


If so, maybe you just want to let the business know your thoughts, or perhaps in some cases you want a refund. This edition of Squirreling Gone Wild will focus on a unique type of individual who goes beyond complaining and likes to suck free goods or services out of a business as a vampire likes to suck blood.


It's frugality run amok.


Now, some of us do complain more than others, and there is a wide spectrum of fussiness among consumers. Personally, I'm on the lower end of that spectrum. I'm likely to take action by making a different purchasing decision next time. If it's incredible rudeness, gross incompetence, or something of the like, I'll gladly complain. But that's not frequently the case.


On the other end of the spectrum, there are people who will complain about any dissatisfaction they have with food, service or product. If they don't like what they paid for, they will let the business know about it loud and clear. Whether it's wanting to get out frustrations, or simply trying to get a refund every time they're unhappy, these folks like to take a stand.


Then, there's that unique type of individual I referred to earlier. The best way I can characterize this person is: The Extractor.


Her method

I had the pleasure of knowing one of these individuals, and it was quite interesting. On the surface, she and her husband were nice, gentle people. I got to know them a bit through a friend, and eventually spent some time with them on occasion. They had some good qualities as people, no doubt.

However, when it came to spending money, they were penny pinchers extraordinaire. This would manifest itself when we went out to dinner. 


Invariably, there was something wrong with the food or service. Maybe the food wasn't warm enough, perhaps it wasn't spicy enough, or maybe the water didn't have enough ice. There was always something to complain about. And complain she did.


I recall one time when we went out for pizza. Someone in our group was thirsty, but didn't get a glass of water for about 10 minutes. Otherwise, it was a good evening out for all, with good pizza and good fun. I didn't think anything of it.


The next time I saw The Extractor, she told me that she had called the pizza place the next day, complained about the service, and scored a credit for free food up to $20.


All for a glass of water. And she wasn't the one who had to wait for water!


Another time we went out with The Extractor and husband (and there weren't that many times), she complained about the quality of a vegetarian sandwich that was ordered. "Could they have really messed up something made of veggies?!" is what I thought. But then I remembered whom I was with, and thought "That's just her. We all have our quirks."


Of course I gave her the benefit of the doubt. And, of course, she turned around and complained even more, to the point that she got the sandwich for free.


I began to see a pattern.


Her madness

I then noticed, in a few conversations on different occasions, that she would talk about different instances when she complained about products she had purchased. One was ice cream that she said had too many artificial ingredients in it for her taste, so she called the company to complain. A coupon for free ice cream was sent. A similar complaint was made about a bag of salt-and-vinegar potato chips. A coupon for a free bag of chips was sent.

I first thought, "If the food product was so offensive that a complaint was necessary, why eat a replacement that's exactly the same?"


Then I quickly concluded, "She's not really complaining. She's just trying to get free stuff."

That was it. It was all about getting free stuff.


I recall visiting their home, and seeing a letter sitting out on the coffee table. I didn't want to be nosy, but when The Extractor and her husband stepped into the kitchen, I peered from the corner of my eye at the letter. The letter began something like:

"Dear Mrs. (Extractor), we are sorry that our product did not meet your satisfaction ...."

I smiled. Even thought I didn't think it was good form on her part, it was kind of funny, if for no other reason than it was so blatant. I thought, "Well, this is kind of weird, but at least they're not hurting me. And besides, they're nice in other ways."


Fast-forward to later on that year. We were out to dinner again, this time at a nice place downtown that was fairly pricey. It was a fabulous meal, with nice views of the city to boot. Fun experience, to be sure.


Then, as we were nearing the end of the meal, I saw her husband's eyes notice something, and he immediately got up. I turned, and saw that he was going to the bathroom. The next thing I knew, the waiter walked up to our table with the check. He handed it directly to me.


First, I was like "What the ...?" Then, I quickly realized what was going on. Mrs. Extractor was married to another extractor! Very slick, that "to the bathroom when the bill's on its way" move.


All of a sudden, it's not as funny when you're the one being extracted from.


Needless to say, I don't see Mr. and Mrs. Extractor anymore.


I had done the complaining routine once as a college kid, trying to score a free pizza. It worked, and I felt bad afterward, as shared in a previous story here. But these were grown adults doing this type of thing on a regular basis. Not my type.


Have you ever met anybody like this, who takes such extreme measures to get free things?


More from Squirrelers and MSN Money:

Mar 3, 2011 11:14PM
It's frugality run amok.
No, it's highly unethical behavior that borders on stealing. Also, it can get an employee fired.  
All of a sudden, it's not as funny when you're the one being extracted from.
Did the author seriously buy the couple a nice dinner because the hubby went to the bathroom when the check came? There were other ways to handle that one, you know.....
Apr 6, 2012 7:18PM
I would have paid my part and that's it. You can only be extracted from if you allow it.
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