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Marisa Mackle: If you tempt me in my inbox, give me respect

When is a bargain not a bargain?

Well, if it's something you would never have paid full price for in the first place. If it's not something you really want, a 'bargain' is usually surplus to requirements. In these cash-strapped times, most of us are looking for good value. But how often are we being bombarded by 'special offers'?

Checking emails can be an expensive habit these days. In the past few months, my inbox has become clogged up with 'great' deals. Most are half-price deals which must be bought within 24 hours or else they'll be gone forever.

It's like passing a shop window and seeing 'LAST FEW DAYS'. You panic, afraid to walk past in case you're missing the deal of the century.

Most of the fantastic deals that I've been receiving recently are not for goods or services that I particularly need. Hot stone massages might sound lovely, but they are not necessary. Neither is a night away in a country hotel with a free box of chocolates and a welcome glass of Prosecco on arrival. An Indian head massage sounds tempting, but is it worth paying the babysitter so I can indulge? Hardly.

Before the internet, a good way to save money was to stay at home. If you weren't out shopping you could not be tempted. Now you can be tempted 24 hours a day, even in bed wearing your pyjamas. Cyberspace has ensured that there is no longer a safe place for shopaholics.

There was a time you couldn't go shopping after 6pm, or indeed on a Sunday. Now you can shop even on Christmas Day. Shopping at irregular hours may be handy for time-poor folks, but shopping at 4am is rarely a good idea.

The other thing I don't like is being a 'voucher' customer. In other words, you are not as important as a 'regular' customer. For example, I bought a skin treatment in one of these discount deals last November. I rang the salon to make an appointment before Christmas. The girl on the phone sighed when she heard the word 'voucher' and said that due to phenomenal demand the voucher could not be used until January. Then when I phoned in January I was greeted with another sigh. I was told I could not make an appointment for Saturday as it was a peak time. So I was forced to make an appointment for a time that wasn't convenient to me at all. A bargain? Hmm. Not if I'm supposed to grateful to be fitted in somewhere, into a slot that a 'normal' customer doesn't want. I don't like being treated like I got the deal for free. I paid for it. I didn't really want it, but I gave in after you tempted me in my inbox. Now, please, a little respect!