Yesterday my friend bought a pair of earrings for nearly a grand. You’d think, being so costly, the manufacturers would make sure that all the stones were in place? But nope. There had to be at least one stone missing. But this isn’t really new, right? Each of us have known someone ( and in some embarrassing confessions, ourselves) who have been taken for a ride by the increasing succesful Indian marketing brigade.
During my recent visit home, I had a sleepover at my friend’s place. Her mother, let me call her aunty here, had just bought detergent soap for a year. Not bad. We all do some bulk shopping once in a while. Lets face it, Big Bazaar and Spencer’s survive for that. So aunty had bought 2 big packets of what she described as Surf Excel. Apprently, the saleswoman was a manupulative fox. She not only managed to sell the packets to aunty, but also to 14 other women in her neighbourhood. Her sales pitch being, ” Arre… Mrs so-and-so ne bhi liya hai.” And as a bonus she promised assured prizes ranging from a year’s supply of some more soap, a microwave oven, pressure cooker or cash. However, when we opened the pack, the detergent turned out to be Axcel (or something similar). Instead of the HUL logo, there was HL and none of the gifts have arrived till today.
This set us off on discussing how we have been cheated so far. Another friend chipped in with the story of how her mother had bought a detergent too. The free gift in this case was kept in the truck just outside the lane. The saleswoman promised once all the houses had been covered they would come and deliver their free gifts too. After 3 hours when nothing came, the residents came out and saw that the truck had vanished. As a silver lining they thought, ‘ oh well! At least we didnt have to go out to buy the soap’. Must have felt pretty bad after they realised the powder was just ashes packed neatly in glossy packs.
My sister was also included in this survey by me and my friends. Back in college, we had gone to this area called New Market in Calcutta. Now, being a crazy place crowded with hawkers and shoppers we didn’t really stop anywhere for more than 5-10 minutes. My sister and her friend saw a camera which they liked. After a preliminary check, they decided it was, though second or third-hand, worth the price they were asking for. The shop/shack-keeper put it the camera bag, took the money and we went. By the time we crossed the road we all wanted to take pictures – being girls and loving to pose and all that. Lo and behold! The bag just had a brick! And the shop was nowhere to be found either. He must have had a nice dinner with chicken tandoori and rum on us.
Though most of these false investments set the buyers back (See what I’m doing here? I’m using all my business language gyaan to sound like a know-it-all) by a variety of sums – sometimes Rs 500 and sometimes Rs 5,000, I’m sure many of us buy things which are not authentic anyways. I knew many people in school bought LA 18/ ELY 18 nail colours (as against the youth favourite Elle 18) from Gariahat footpath. I have seen Bandra shops selling fake Malcolm cosmetics for one fourth the price. And Colaba has its share of Zara, Calvin Klein rip-offs. People sell these because we buy them knowing they are fake. However, the door-to-door salesman sells us something we don’t want or we don’t need and goes away laughing to a neighbourhood at least 10 kms away.
Maybe I should do a proper survey on how best to not get cheated? Any ideas? Anyone?