Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Let the shopper beware

I'd like to share the most important shopping lesson I learned in France: READ THE FRENCH PRINT. They’re not even the fine kind. At least try to understand the words whenever you see them and save yourself some moolah or embarrassment. As the saying goes, buyer beware.

This is a no-brainer, but in the midst of the excitement of seeing nice things, and mentally converting from euro to Canadian dollars, and agonizing whether to buy or not, the brain can suddenly go on holiday.

Here are my two shopping blunders:

Blunder #1

As Bob and I were strolling around the historic town of Rennes, we passed by a shop that had a rack of colourful bags on the sidewalk. I instantly liked them. They looked exotic to South America.

“8 €!” I exclaimed. Even at 1.3 exchange rate, I thought that was a very good deal. I love cheap and I love exotic, never mind if they were sold in France where I should be thinking Louis Vuitton (not!).

After mulling about this for several minutes I told Bob I wanted to get the 8 €-bag. We turned around and walked back.

I saw a similar bag hanging inside the store, unhooked it, and brought it to the cash register.

“17 €,” the cashier curtly told me.

“Oh, sorry,” I replied and returned the merchandise. “I’m getting the one outside.”

Hubby and I went to the rack where it said 8 €. He yanked a bag from where it was securely tied. I went back to the cashier.

“17 €,” she said again. I spoke out this time.

“It says there 8 €. Isn’t this 8 €?” I said. The tag indeed said 17 € but the sign said 8 €.

She said something in French that I didn’t understand. Realizing we were not communicating, she left the counter and quickly walked to the rack. She pulled out a tiny purse that said 8 €. That was the 8 € one. The rest were what it said on the tag. Oh I get it, but no, I won't get that.

“Sorry, I thought everything was 8 €.” Hubby and I read the sign again. À partir de 8 €. So that’s what it meant! Starting from 8 €. We left the store a bit embarrassed, but at least I kept my 17 €.

If I wanted to buy something that looked as exotic as that, I’d buy it in Ecuador or Peru. Or from the flea market.

Blunder # 2.

In Saint-Malo, another shopper’s paradise, hubby and I entered a clothes store. “10 €!” I exclaimed upon seeing a rack of dresses with the big 10 € sign. I thought the dress was somewhat youngish, or what 20-somethings might wear. But for 10 €? I'd wear it.

Kaya ko ‘tong dalhin (literally, I can carry this, meaning, I can wear this without humiliating myself),” I bragged to hubby. He agreed. He liked it for me.

I grabbed a dress and at least two other sale items, and tried them on in the fitting room. Knowing this would take a while, Bob went elsewhere.

The 10 € dress fit me. It looked kinda different from what I’d normally wear, but I convinced myself it was a good buy. When I went to pay for my new dress, the till showed 22 €.

Wha—? I reacted quietly. I couldn’t say anything because there were people waiting in line. Besides, I couldn’t speak French and the lady may not know English. I paid for the dress and left.

“22 €! It’s not 10 €!” I complained to Bob as soon as I saw him. We checked the sign again and tried to decipher it.  "Oh, I think it means 'less 10 €'". The tag price was 32 €. That figures.

“Should I return it?” I kept asking. “Magpapaka-bagets bagets na sana ‘ko for 10 €… Soli ko na lang kaya? (I was willing to look youngish for 10 €. What if I just returned it?)”. I kept looking back to the store. Finally hubby said let it go, nakakahiya (it's embarrassing), just swallow it.

I felt so bad about paying 22 € for something I wouldn’t buy for $22 CAD. I wasn't even 22 years old. But I just swallowed it like Bob said. “Don’t tell the others,” I told him. Good hubby that he was, he didn’t tell anyone--until he blogged about it here and told the world, haha.

I kept the dress hidden from our group because I was embarrassed to show a bagets dress I bought simply because I thought it cost 10 €. I wore it only after our group had parted ways in Italy and I had almost nothing clean to wear in Rome.

Maganda sa ‘yo! (It's nice on you)” Bob said when he saw me wearing it. I felt much better because I know he tells me like it is when it comes to outfit.

I think I became a smarter shopper in France. But by then it was time to read Italian.


Next, To Sorrento
Previous, Saint-Malo


Anonymous said...

Thank your for sharing. I went to Paris last year, I didnt have the experience that you had, but that will be something I will watch out for if I had chance there again. :)

From Josy, Singapore

lerryblossoms said...

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