Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Getting more than you bargain for at cheap sales

JUST before the Chinese New Year, I decided to update my wardrobe.

A sale was held at one of the shopping complexes near my house and I decided to check it out.

I had always wanted checked short-sleeved shirts of a particular brand because of the ruggedness associated with it but the prices were always out of reach.

Since I was not willing to pay through my nose, I had to drool every time I saw a new shirt being promoted.

When I saw the shirts that I had been dreaming of were only priced at RM19 instead of RM90 at the sale, I was overjoyed.

I reasoned that at that price, I could not even buy a piece of kain pelikat to make one shirt. So I bought a dozen.

After the first wash, the seams of some broke loose and I had to double stitch them.

Then the threads that held the buttons together started to give way. I had to stitch them by hand.

Thankfully, my sewing skills were still intact and I could still thread a needle.

My only worry now is whether the fabric will hold. Old stock? Rejects? Your guess is as good as mine.

It's not about shirts alone, watch out for the shoes, too. When they offer huge discounts on branded ones, be careful.

Unless you know your shoes well, watch your step even if they fit -- or you will be stopped in your tracks in months to come just like what happened to my wife a couple of years ago when she bought a pair during a shoe sale at a hotel in town.

We were so taken in by the supermarket crowd rummaging through the upmarket brands that we joined in as well.

When the salesgirl found my wife a pair she liked among the mound of odd-sized ones, I was so thankful.

When I was told that it only costs a quarter of its RM500 price tag, I was so happy I could kiss her feet.

But in less than three months of wearing it, my wife found that the left sole had cracked.

Even the cobbler was not sure how to fix it.

Later, when I asked another shoe salesgirl why soles gave way like my wife's pair did, she said because the shoes were near the end of its product life when we bought it.

The bargain we got turned out to be the price we paid for, being taken in by the cheap sale pitch.

Retailing is not what it seems and the price tags you see may not reflect what the products are worth.

Only sound reasoning and experience will help, but with marketing science staying one step ahead all the time, you don't have much of a chance to get away with a bargain if the marketers can help it. There is always a price to pay.

Ever wonder why you find checkout counters selling stuff like sweets and other small fast-moving goods that you often buy but could do without?

Or have you asked why some supermarkets place the more pricey products at eye level while the cheaper ones are displayed at knee-height?

Go figure that one out.

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