The eternal skirmish...

March 4, 2013

One of my friends, on a mailing list, sent me this picture,

lcd shelves 030313 photo lcdshelves.jpg

with the text:

“A New Concept to Shop…World’s First Virtual Shopping Store opens in Korea. All the Shelves are in fact LCD Screens.Users Choose their desired items by touching the LCD screen and checkout at the counter.In the end, all their ordered stuff is packed in Bags….Isn’t that Amazing ?”

My response was, “I don’t find this good at all. If I am going to take the trouble to go to a supermarket to shop, I want to hold the actual product in my hands, calculate the unit cost, choose…and I fail to see why a more electricity- and internet-dependent process should be better than the physical, and simple, process of taking the merchandise and paying for it.”

Another friend’s response was, “The first dotcom book in the late nineties spawned a webmarket in HongKong, which amongst other things sold fresh produce. The investor fell flat on his face because the ladies who checked out the service complained of the one bad potato amongst six…For branded merchandise, it may still work.”

But no, even that may not work, I feel. The Indian housewife (or homemaker, take your pick of terms; I mean, ME!) is eternally engaged in polite warfare with her grocer/vendor, . We (the shopkeeper and I) both know what’s happening, but we both prefer to keep up the pretence that he (there are no women grocers where I live) is giving me, always, the best stuff for the money I pay. I, personally, ensure this by going to the shop to do my purchasing.

Whenever I phone in an order to my kirana store, I am sure of getting some stuff with older dates and newer (higher) prices; stuff which might have reached its expiry date; small “mistakes” in the pricing and totalling (never, ever, on the downward side), billing for small items not supplied…small items supplied but not asked for….this happened with branded items, too.

There’s no point, I’ve decided, in making this an issue; I just avoid the situation, by being in the shop physically, and checking what I am buying. I cannot even abide the other pernicious practice of paying my change in sweets or toffees. I suggest that next time I’ll pay him entirely in toffees, if he does this…and grudgingly, he brings out the correct change, which he always had in the till!

Shopping for household goods and vegetables is an interesting transaction in India, always!