Saturday, 20 September 2014

Are you being served?


If the written word had measurable decibels, this would be one of my loudest posts. I don’t rant for I don’t trust myself with impassioned screaming where I may spell Punjabi expletives incorrectly (the ignominy!) I also calm my blood down before writing my opinions down because to have one’s genuine piece being read and rejected as Post Menstrual/Marital/Mid-age Stress is but the single biggest discouragement any writer can get. Plus, over-use of ‘annoying’ is so annoying.

I was asked a few moments back about my most tiring experiences as a customer. There are 2 which jumped red lights, broke their lane and came honking to mind with holy stickers on their wind shields. Sadly, these two are as regular in my day-to-day life as my milk man’s thin moustache every morning is. If you too like me stay in New Delhi, these may not be anything new for you. I would still like to ask you though – are you too being served thus?

Parking Fraud



Those young lads manning MCD parking areas all over the city know more about us than even we know. They know we are short of time, perhaps looking at how little we open our windows and how hurriedly snatch the tickets from their hands, before crumpling them and stuffing the ball into our top pockets. They also seem to have realized that we stopped caring for Rs. 10 long back, and especially now when it got converted to mere coins from full-blown currency notes. Why else will they tear the tickets as you see in the picture above? 

I got this parking ticket at PVR Naraina parking lot. Notice how it has been torn. While the rate for parking the car is Rs. 10, the counterfoil is torn such that Rs. 20 is what is visible, asked for and paid. At India Gate, the boards listing the expensive charges have been systematically defaced to "sell" this fraudulent idea. At New Delhi railway station, umbrellas and barricades are placed such that cars coming in are misled into entering the 'Premium Parking' area, where you pay Rs. 100 per entry. In Dilli Haat, the paid parking (with such tickets) even covers areas outside the legally designated areas for parking. Yes, you can park your big car where 'No Parking' boards exist. It’s everywhere!

At many levels, we are "promoting" this cheating at a massive scale pan Delhi. Either we have no idea, in case we do not notice the slip properly because the movie or the sale is about to begin. Or, we know the story but are too embarrassed to argue with the parking guys over a meagre Rs 10. What will the car behind us think, after all?

Try putting your foot down to be served right, instead of on the accelerator to find that elusive parking spot or vacating it for the next in line. Try asking him to check the part of the counterfoil he has left under the thick rubber band. See his face then, hand over the right amount, say good night and then sleep tight knowing a youngling is not discussing with his friends what an owl the Audi driver was. It feels good. 

Toffees for Change



Parents or no parents, the cashiers at so many stores seem better equipped to handle toddler tantrums and sudden urges for sweeties than most of us who popped real-life babies. Why else would they buy packets of Kissme toffees or Cadbury’s Eclairs to give you instead of change which they are always short of? Of course, one may say they are spreading sweetness but oh boy, try calculating what the store is making by giving you a sweet that cost it a paisa instead of the Re. 1 it hands over in exchange and with a smile that would put the frogs’ to shame. 

Our neighbourhood Safal – the one shop which promises fresh vegetables and executes its promise of freshness only once a week from 6 am to 6:30 am, be there or miss it! – is where you find a cash register full of coconut toffees. No matter what time of the day you get your vegetables billed there, they will never have spare change, though by God's grace, they will always have these toffees. 

Initially, I used to refuse taking them leaving behind the change which was my due. The shame-faced cashier used to produce a few coins from somewhere then. Gradually, as I saw through his scheme of things he saw through mine and I was asked to take-toffee-or-leave-it with the confidence of a politician in the Parliament. So, I had no option but to take toffees, and collect them. Yes, sir, I did collect them. (If they were popular ones, I would have bought a packet to add to the kitty) I collected them not just to see by how much an average customer was getting duped per visit but also because one fine day I wanted to take a handful back, in exchange for onions and potatoes and ginger. 

I did exactly that. Stumped, the cashier did not know how to ‘sell’ me the vegetables in exchange for sweeties, or how to refuse. Stumped, the old uncle who had just popped his into his mouth stopped sucking on it. And magically, the woman next in line raised her voice against this practice too. That she was diabetic and this was promoting sugar-intake was a little off the mark from the real reason to reject this phenomenon but it helped. Suddenly, there was the clink of coins and everyone got their change.

From food courts in popular malls to our favourite general stores, the toffee-for-coin is rampant. What does it take to see through the act? I know it takes quite a bit to refuse a kind hand handing you gooey chocolate filled toffees but look close. Apart from the parking guy’s pocket the vegetable cashier’s belly too is shaking in amused disbelief at its dumb customers. And you know as well as I do who they are.  

To be subtly swindled and served thus got my goat. Regularly and by the neck on bad hair days! So much so that finally the goat was ready to offer itself up as mutton to end the ordeal. Up until the day I left her at home, because I had decided to stand by my right to be served right. It’s very easy. It’s very important. It’s also as patriotic as painting a flag on your face every Independence day or for India's cricket match.

Are you being served right?


[Written for WordPress Daily Prompts : 365 Writing Prompts. The prompt for today was - Are you being served? - What’s the most dreadful (or wonderful) experience you’ve ever had as a customer?]



44 comments:

  1. Very Well written, I am also fighting against this. Its Pathetic how they are fooling many, Shopkeepers are deliberately keeping no Change and offer Toffees instead. Now even for 5 rupees they shamelessly offer chocolates. Awareness is the only solution I feel and posts like yours will help the cause.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh yes! Some do give chota 5 stars in stead of Rs. 5.
      No cause here, except personal choice. It's not like people don't know they are being duped. It's just sad that all the problems that exist with the nation are found with the GoI. Not with our everyday behavior.

      Delete
  2. "Toffees for change" happens everywhere. I've heard of instances where people have been given 'Halls' worth Rs. 10! I've used the same approach that you did, and it worked. One only has to show some resistance.
    The Parking Attendants in Delhi seem to be much more street-smart than those in other parts of India. Elsewhere, the one thing I've experienced is the attendant collecting the fee without issuing a receipt.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. People have taken Halls for Rs. 10? My God! Absolutely right, Pro, about that showing some resistance. After all, if they are in the wrong how much and for how long can they argue?
      No receipt happens here too. Except, it's unsafe to park your wheels without proof of parking so in that sense we have sense :P

      Delete
  3. I know this..I have been served thus!

    but I am so proud I learnt to simply put the foot down to get my due. Some people (so called friends~!) thought I was simply being cheap...but then "Charity begins at home" :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When you call someone 'so called friends' it becomes an oxymoron featuring morons, Kajal. :D
      Love the 'charity begins at home!' :D

      Delete
  4. Awesome post Sakshi, since we are staying in New Delhi, so we can relate with this. Though fortunately or unfortunately I don't have a vehicle so never faced the parking lot issue but then toffees are something which I have to accept every time when I visit my near by shops, though since I usually go there with my two years old little angel, so rejecting the toffee becomes a nightmare for me, since once the shopkeeper offer us the toffee, my little angel took it very happily... And then you can understand I cannot be able to refuse or return it :)

    But yes the points which you raised is very much true.. We should take care of these things. Thanks for spreading this..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is fortunate not to have a vehicle at all. Expensive, traffic jams and then this parking mess. I can understand and sympathise with you about the toffee part. :)
      Thanks for reading this, Alok.

      Delete
  5. I can't stop laughing. Well said, Sakshi

    ReplyDelete
  6. //because one fine day I wanted to take a handful back, in exchange for onions and potatoes and ginger. //

    EPIC! I am going to do this the next time they take me granted for toffees!Awesome post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do it, Keirthana. Take a picture of the face you see then. :P
      Thanks for reading me. :)

      Delete
  7. "Toffess for change" is so old fashioned over here in Kolkata you see we are the flag bearers of Culture since The Cultural Renaissance of the 19th century so here its "Give change or die B***h!" people punch you, assault you if you cannot fish out change. And yes, I am talking about Kolkata

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I have been in Kolkata for a 3 week stint and I know exactly what you are talking about. There is an obsession for change there, and I always wondered why. I have seen people have change in their drawers but will not share it. Then, I used the public facility near Dakshineshwara and realised why - to be able to produce a 25p coin when the country stopped minting it must be something to work hard towards. I handed him a Re 1 sikka and believe it or not I got 75 p back. :D

      Delete
  8. I agree with every word. This toffee-change is sickening and it is spreading everywhere like cancer...:X

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hehe.. I am pretty confidant that everyone who reads this article would agree with you. Though I see the chocolate-for-coins practice has lessened, the parking lot nuisance still remains.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is a nuisance which is here to stay it seems. The parking mafia is well-established now!
      Thanks for reading, Diwakar.

      Delete
  10. The issues are irritating, of course, but still the amounts are pretty small, so I guess it's manageable.
    Except for the diabetes issue in the end..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I disagree that the amounts are small. Think of the parking spaces in New Delhi and now think of the fraud. The nexus is between 'thekedaars' and parking guys. Been talking to some. The money involved is mind-boggling. :)
      Of course, those sweeties don't burn a hole in your pocket. Yet, you have to admit that once accepted the cheating trend does spread. No?
      Good to see you here, Prateek.

      Delete
  11. Well said on both counts, Sakshi!

    ReplyDelete
  12. The first one doesn't get my goat quite like the second issue you raised (probably because I am simply too relieved to get the opportunity to abandon my car at a parking lot the second I get there)
    I wonder where else our intrepid shopkeeper Safalfully hands off those coconut toffees. At the mandir, you think? To the lepers at a red light? DTC buses??
    Fools. These morons, too, but mainly us, for we allow these low grade swindlers to save their best coins for us. Cons, I mean cons!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I understand your sentiment and relief on getting a parking spot. It is quite like finding a clean bathroom when you really, absolutely, must and should have gone there many minutes back. :D

      Delete
  13. Yup. I know this one. I don't even know what to do with those toffees. It's a clever gimmick to sell stuff you don't want to buy. Swindlers, all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Swindlers, all, indeed.
      But like they say - as long as there are people ready to be deceived there will be deceivers ready to deceive.

      Delete
  14. Posted a comment just.. checking to see whether the page swallowed it up or did it just go for approval..

    ReplyDelete
  15. So, the page did swallow my comment.. so here I go again..
    Not getting a change simply irks me no end.. Especially the auto wallahs, who always round it to the nearest 10 to their advantage and look totally nonchalant about it. I feel petty fighting for it, but then I would rather give my money in charity, instead of being looted like this. Feel rather short changed :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is a loot, but in such small denominations that often we might just feel happy to relieved of coins in out wallet. :D
      That 'short changed' was smart! :D

      Delete
  16. I remember one such incident.While our way to manali, we gave this toll man 100 bugs and instead of giving back five rupee (95 was the toll fee) he gave this gatiya cheap khatti mithi toffees.It happened twice.So on the third toll my brother gave the swindler 90 rupee + orange candies. Arguments broke off but we refused him outright to pay off the rest panch rupees.Tit for Tat!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well done to your bro. I see no reason how they could refuse the toffees. You were giving them the same 'sweetness' that they gave you. :D
      Good to see you here. :)

      Delete
  17. I am also fed up with this system but can't do much about it cause when you are in hurry you say "Kaun sala Jhanjat main pade.. . . :( . . A G+ for your post and have a Nice day. . . :)

    ReplyDelete
  18. Yes Sakshi...Its happening everywhere and I have experienced with not just these shopkeepers in petty things but also with Bus conductors... If we boarding and asking for a ticket for 2 or 3 stops..they ll take the change from us but they SKIP giving the ticket in return.....before they give we would be in urge to get down...and they KEEP doing like this till we ask for the TICKET....
    Only IF WE RAISE our VOICEs these fraudsters & cheaters atleast would THINK....and it takes ENORMOUS effort to stop as we all know....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I did not know about the bus ticket thing. But it confirms my fears that wherever there is scope for cheating it shalt be done! You are right when you say at least the swindlers would think twice. Something is better than nothing!

      Delete
  19. I remember the toffee change..all for a toffee, ignore it at your risk for we promote diabetes. The parking loot is big time swindling. Hope u doing well and rocking on FB:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. All good everywhere, Vishal. I know you are no longer on FB. :)

      Delete
  20. most of indians make living by cheating and with fraudulent practices.i don't find anything new,you will see this in every aspect of life in every city.parking mafia is what local political leaders henchmen discovered as source of income.municipal corporation auctions parking lot for dead cheap price by accepting bribes and this parking mafia will loot people.

    even at popular multiplexes and imax screens ,they give five star chocolates instead of change.there is another mafia called change mafia where people have to pay 10 rupees as commission for 100 rupees change.these brokers and mafia survives at RBI gates.i dunno what indians are proud of ,their falthu mars mission or their match fixing cricket board.if you read NYTIMES or any foreign tabloid,they speak cheap about indians.we should not blame foreign media but cultureless indians who go on cheating spree in every aspect of life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know who survives at whose gates but I do know media across the world survives with sensationalism and geo-political projections. I do agree that we Indians can learn a thing or two from other countries.
      Thank you, Rohan, for coming by.

      Delete
  21. A very interesting post, Sakshi. The parking thing - sounds like a right con. Especially the way it's torn. As for the toffees for change - yes, been there, done that. I guess most of us have. I used to accept it at first. Strangely it isn't an "Indian" thing. I remember my first year in the UK - The bus drivers used to have IOU notes if they didn't have change. Often the bus would start to get crowded as I approached the University ; hence I wouldn't stay on to get the change. Eventually one day, I boarded the bus with enough IOU notes - if memory serves right, they totalled enough for a long-trip from Brighton to London; As is the case, they refused to take it. Now, I'm not confrontational by any standards, but the driver happened to catch me on a day where I was really didn't want to hear any excuses. So eventually I stood there long enough, till the driver accepted those IOU notes back. Sometimes we really need to put our foot down.

    Apologies for the really long comment :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey, that UK incident is interesting to know. While I cannot imagine a sweet guy like you standing there long enough with probably a threatening look on his face, I can very well understand how eventually the frustration can build up and ooze out.
      Thanks for reading, Sid.

      Delete
  22. Applause....Applause....for your taking a stand, and also for the post.

    I fight with the parking mafia frequently and furiously. Even if it means creating a scene in an unfriendly location. However, the toffee-mafia hadn't angered me till I read you post.

    Another mafia I hate is the schools. You know the compulsory buying of uniforms, books , stationery, from the shops designated by them.....They charge designer prices for goods of average quality. My children's school changes shoes and school-bag type every year forcing the parents to buy a new every year. I know, This mafia is going to be a little harder to fight to.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I hear you. My son just got "promoted" to KG, from Nursery, and we're going bankrupt already. Too much monopolization. However, changing uniforms every year sounds like pure greed.

      Delete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...