Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Hard Bargain

We bought a tv! 1st time we’ve ever bought a tv. Living in a foreign country where everything’s really expensive and we can’t speak the language and don’t understand the cultural norms seemed like a perfect place and time to make our first tv purchase.

With only a slight portion of a plan, we loaded ourselves up and headed to “Cora,” the French version of a Super Wal-Mart. The place is huge and has everything, including tvs. I walked to the tv section and checked out a few models, most out of my price range. Sitting off to the side I saw a box with a tv and a small ’-30%’ sticker. I caught the attention of a salesman and began the communication carousel. In very broken French/English/Swahili (why is it that when trying to learn a new foreign language, old learned languages always seem to come out?) I explained what I was looking for, and asked why this one was marked with a discount. I ascertained that it was a former display model being sold for a price below retail. I then managed to communicate I was interested, and he grabbed a manager who knew a little bit of English.

This is where the communication problems became comical from my point of view. I had a simple question: is the price marked on the box already reduced 30%, or will it be reduced an additional 30%? In trying to ask this question, the manager that ‘spoke English’ thought I was pushing him about the price of an opened item. He backed down and said “Ok, ok, I give you 50% off.” Ha. So then he did some calculating and wrote down a price half of what was typed on the box. I’ll take it! Sometimes not knowing the language comes in handy.

We own a tv now, in France. Turns out that in France, if you own a tv there’s an annual tax you have to pay the government. It’s pretty steep. Maybe we didn’t get such a great deal after all...

1 comment:

Belva said...

Very interesting Michael! My husband would love you and your bargaining skills!