Sunday, July 13, 2008

Healthy pinch of salt necessary

When we first moved into our place over 10 years ago, my better half and I went about the task of getting all the electricals we needed for our home.

Again, as with planning our purchases, we'd make a list, define our budget, see what we like, and then buy. Easy right? Well, yes, sort of. Things went great all the way until we hit the 'and then buy' part.

That was when we encountered this near-human species called the Mega-legenda-cheapo-ban-hock-leong-guan-hin-seng electronic appliance salesman. You've probably encountered these beings before. Its not hard to spot them. There are good ones, and there are those who make pond scum somehow look wholesome.

Here are some highlights of what I remember of them:
  • The "Yes sir, how can I help you" opener (hands clapsed, body bent forward in commission-driven sincerity)
  • The "Oh ya, we can get you everything you need" guarantee (brings out reams of photocopy lists)
  • The "You better beware of the other sharks (points next door) who give you low price but never deliver" well-rehearsed advice
  • The "Sir, I'm already making a loss selling to you at this price... how to go lower?" puppy-eyed plea
  • The "Tell you what, I'll.... if you'll.... " nudge-nudge-wink-wink deal closer

But largely, the most defining, albeit least desired highlight of this species is the "rip-every-shred-of-faith-you-have-for-humanity-by-utterly-reneging-on-every-single-promise" act. You'd probably have experienced it in one way or another, when dealing with these guys.

  • Eg 1: Promises to deliver at 11am and manages to turn up at 3pm after 27 calls

  • Eg 2: Promises the best deal in town, only to tell you they're out of stock -- the next best deal would 'only' be a couple hundred bucks more


Closely resembled me when I screamed out of frustration!

  • Eg 3: Promises you great after-sales service, and when you need it, crudely points you to the manufacturer's service centre instead. ("you want to send through us also can one, but this will take extra 5 days woh")

Saw that in:
  • I could go on but there's no sense in telling you what you already know, eh?

So here's the deal. Everybody knows these guys make American 2nd-hand car dealers look like the Salvation Army. Yet, why do we still go there? Why not go to Harvey Norman or Best Denki or even Carrefour (pronounced "kar foor", ok) / Giant hypermarts where you'll be assured of a 'fair' value and not get ripped off?

Looking for a deal eh mate?

Hai, hai, honto ni this izu best0 dee-ru in town neh!

Oui, oui, cest si bon, I give you ze magnefique deal in ze town ya?

I think its because, secretly, we all believe we're the better bargainer, and far shrewder then the worst (technically, best) salesman! We have done our homework -- walked up and down the streets 4.57 times and can memorize the model number and 7-page specs by heart! NOBODY is going to sucker me! We all believe that, right?

Sure, I believe you!

You could get the better of some of these guys. And yes, to be fair, not all of them are as terrible as how I'd described them to be. Some could be worse! But there are many decent guys out there as well (2 is many!).

So whatever your preferred way to shop, good luck, have fun, and shop smart!
Oh yeah, and set aside an extra 2% more budget if you're paying by 'card'!

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