Grandma\’s Tales

May 15, 2007

Are you an efficient buyer? 6 Mangoes are here!

Filed under: Consumer caution — Rajesh @ 9:53 pm

My posts on “buying” invariably feature my husband (Man of the house – MOH for short).  There is a reason for it. MOH is the principal buyer in my household, being the more efficient – according to him the only efficient – in getting a good bargain.
Today, we went out to buy mangoes, ok, ok, he went and I tagged along. We live close to a commercial area and that gives us a number of options on places to buy our stuff from. First MOH stopped at the neat pyramids of mangoes on the footpath. Golden yellow, smooth and shining – silly, not the footpath, the mangoes!
“How much?” MOH asked. “60 rupees,” the guy said. “Each?” MOH asked. I could have collected the dripping sarcasm. We were expected to bargain, but he decided to walk off, obviously in no mood for a “pleasant” exchange in Chennai Tamil.
Our next stop was a recently opened fruit shop. They go by the brand name of “Kovai” and are one-stop shops for fruits, veggies, fresh fruit juice and boiled corn. They look clean and well-lit but I have a grouse against them. None of them has any parking area. You have to wade through haphazardly parked two/three/four wheelers to reach the entrance. Chennai simply punishes walkers.
At the fruit shop, the mangoes, again golden yellow, smooth and shining, were Rs. 35 per kg. “How much is that per mango?” I asked. “If you choose carefully, about Rs. 14,”  said MOH.  He looked around, but came out of the shop. It’s a non-mango day, I thought.
“That was just comparative shopping,” MOH explained. “Now we go to the real place.”
“Real Place” was the Subhiksha outlet at the top of a flight of steps. At the bottom was a board announcing the price of mangoes – Rs.19.50 a kg. Near the board were mangoes on display. “Are these good quality?” I asked. I shouldn’t have. You don’t question “the efficient” buyer. MOH glared and walked up the stairs to the shop.
There were mangoes and mangoes. The shop was boiling hot but there was no dearth of choice. I made a quick calculation. Here a mango – just about ripe – was Rs. 8 a piece! A saving of Rs. 6 over the nearest rival.
“Cheating,” I said. “This is undercutting. Unfair trade practice!” MOH glared again. He doesn’t need practice to do that, but was getting a lot of it today.
He picked the mangoes, all looking healthy and went up to the sales girl. Casting me a significant glance, he asked her, “How come you are so cheap?”
The girl smiled. “The mangoes are cheap,” she said. “That’s because we bought 6 tonnes directly from the orchards. We transport them into the city and distribute the mangoes among our outlets all over town.”
If you are ready to put up with the temporary inconvenience of shopping in a non-AC atmosphere, you stand to gain a packet in mangoes alone. Sweat it out to save money, right?
Lesson: Pay attention to bargain announcements. Comparative shopping helps. In saving money. In the immense satisfaction you get at being an efficient buyer. The same stuff for nearly half the price!

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