that extra 5 rupees…


“There is an offer discount of 5 rupees for this biscuit but you have added full amount”, I pointed out the item in bill to the biller/cashier. “No sir. There is no discount. If there is a discount, the system adds it by self”, says the cashier with full confidence. With the confidence he showed, we were slightly taken back to think if we had a hallucination about discount. We rush back from where we picked up that biscuit and check the discount. It did say 5 rupees, Indian ones. We go back to tell him and it still isn’t convincing to him. “Do you think a customer will pick up new brand unless there is a discount? Moreover, are you not aware what are discounted items in your store?” I pinned some questions. Not at all he would admit that he is sick of his job which keeps refreshing their discounts and items. Both of my questions didn’t convince him.

He signalled me to come aside while he took next customer for billing. I asked him about my case and he tells me to wait. Rolling his eyes everywhere while he is putting items in front of infra-red reader to bill. Suddenly he calls out someone’s name and I see a person walking towards us. His uniform being the same as the cashier, it takes no time to conclude they are colleagues. Handing over the disputed item, he asks him to check for discount. Testing our patience? We see he is going to do a physical walk again to the rack instead of trusting. We didn’t find a point in wasting our time by convincing him with our truthful  words. While we waited aside for the judgement, we were discussing all the pros and cons of this mall culture. No doubt I am in activist mode already. I second your thought that 5 rupees isn’t a big amount in a Metro city or the financial capital of country. But what matters to me is everything else other than value of 5 rupees.

The sudden boom of mall culture has led to a downfall of retailers and also spiked up population of mall rats. Bet you don’t know about mall rats till I tell you I am one of them. I rarely go to malls but when i go, my intentions are only to analyze how much the educated class of Indians are fooled with their discounts and memberships. I get better deals at the local wholesale market, few steps away. Only drawback is the unavailability of those devices to pay electronically. But I still prefer the wholesale market as it starts earlier than malls, by 8 am? Sounds good? Yes. It does.

Like I had been to one branch of this famous supermarket chain, with my wife. She believes that they offer best deals. So this time the intent was clearly on analysis of what saves more, this chain store (like they claim) or the wholesale market. We moved out on one of those sundays which comes in the Change Freeze season thus having no office work. I always get churns in my stomache, little lesser than what happens after over-eating, at the thought of how are we going to the mall. I don’t have a personal vehicle and I have always avoided the auto rickshaws for all the good reasons that you know being a #Mumbaikar. The public transport busses are very rare in the direction of malls and almost extinct on a sunday. Even if you get one, you have to walk a bit to the mall from where the bus drops, without any doubt. When I walk, I sweat. If anyone sweats while entering these malls, he is watched by onlookers in a awful way. There is a radical change in the mindset of peepal about dressing well and smelling good, from the moment they think about visiting the mall for buying daily groceries.

Without any thought we went first almost half way walking, and then other half by auto. In all ways I ensured the fare meter shows me only 17 (2 years back), which is minimum fare and also ensured to carry 7 bucks change to avoid losing those 3 rupees in event of “Saahab, chutta nahi hai.” Because I value each rupee I earn and can’t see it going away from me for silly reason. Like planned, it showed 18 and fortunately he had 2 bucks to return. I wasn’t sweating and therefore no aweful glances on me. 🙂

As usual, she keeps tshirts on me that attract her eyes and the salesman says that is not available in my size. The available ones to my size were disappointing to her eyes. I suggest her to not to waste time anymore on hunting tshirts but instead move ahead to explore our daily needs.

An aisle here and there. We are walking through toileteries. We ask for a large harpic and they offer 2 small ones. The discount that doesn’t go beyond 4 rupees but goes beyond 10 in terms of percentage. Bathing bars available were large but we need smaller for convinience of holding while bathing. The discount offered was few paise again. I insist on smaller version and they lead me to luxury bars. I end up buying Park Avenue bars which are almost twice the price against small bars of Cinthol Lime and Cologne. The discount offered is again in paise. I wish to buy a Colgate 300 gms with free toothbrush and they don’t have that pack. I deny the 200 gms pack with no freebies. Godrej Shaving cream with MRP 42 was sold at 41.something and I get it at 37. Gilette platinum blades pack of 5, MRP 42 was at no discount but I get it at 40 from wholesale market. We keep aside the toileteries section and next comes daily groceries.

Wheat, rice, rawa, maida, toor dal, chana daal, daliya, moong and all other pulses used in our daily basic food. Every single item is packed in nice glossy colorfully printed material. The packets also mention about special nutrients that are present ONLY in this brand, display the nutritional value which might be tested for one packet out of millions produced. Thus in my view, the nutritional value story can be considered as a fictional story. Ignored. All of the items are at least 20% overpriced but they are offering 2.5-5% discounts. Sugar which was about 32-35 rupees a kilo, was sold at about 40 under brand name MADHUR SUGAR. Above all, what happiness of saving would I get out of 5% discount by buying an item at 20% inflated prices? I am paying 15% extra. Potatoes and onions are almost at same prices as bazarpeth but the potatoes appear like descendents of a mutant grandfather potato. Onions are so messed up like they would breathe last after they are summed up in your bill and you end up carrying corpses at home in your car. Didn’t buy anything as nothing was attractive. Edible oil, ghee, butter, cheese etc. are also better priced at wholesale market.

Bakery products sold there weren’t for middle class people. In my theory, middle class people eat anything for filling their tummy but the higher class ones won’t eat for filling the tummy but for instagramic reasons. Thus I have a reason to avoid rusk and go for toast. Toast are fulfilling while rusk is an illusion of filling. Though we choose to buy rusk, there are better prices available at wholesale market and limited choices. More options available at mall make you more confused and you end up fighting in your mind for that 1% difference of fat versus taste between 2 options. Keep it simple silly. Biscuits! You get discounts between 15-50 paise in this store. Peepal who sell or buy them are same who say 25 paise has no value when you give them 4 coins for 1 rupee. I get at least 1 rupee discount per packet at the wholesale market. We keep them out of the cart. Though we buy a few as we haven’t seen them at wholesale market. We awe each other about saving 85 paise on those 3 packs of coookies/biscuits. One another falls in front of our eyes. A new product and is offering 5 rupee discount, may be as a promotional discount. We analyze there is no point in filling up the cart with it, only because we will save into multiples of 5 per pack. Lightly we pick one and drop it carefully in cart so the contents do not become victims of an quake.

Finally we decide! No more loitering with an  almost empty cart analyzing how much we saved or have been fooled in the name of discounts. It is about to tick 8 pm. Billing counters are only in one corner of the floor with billing operators often freely complaining about their colleagues, to their colleagues-in-shift and exchanging tales of valour about how they complained to their managers without coming in the show, while they are billing other customers. I bet Customers barely care about what they are talking, which item of their cart is being made to face the infra-red light etc. as they are busy calculating their savings.

While we were still looking at other fully loaded carts, the man and moment of judgement just arrived. He was on the other side of scale where you can measue seriousness and casualness of the case,  while I was drowned in activist thoughts. I guess you get it. So easily he hands over the disputed item to biller, and says,” 5 rupees off aahe re.” Wow. World War 3 has been won by me. “Isn’t that a billing error?”, I vexed his wounds. The customers waiting in line were giving those weird glances to both of us all this time while we were waiting for judgement. Seeing the victorious movements of mine, they now seemed to be enlightened enough to be conscious while being billed. The biller felt  embarrassment at peak when my wife mentioned, “itna toh bharosa kiya karo. Paanch rupay mein hum ghar nahi bana lengey.” He started preparing the refund slip with a mood like all of his experience has been squeezed out with one line of hers. Holding our bill in one hand and punching bytes with other, he asks “would you like to buy anything worth 5 rupees or cash refund?” “Refund”, was my answer even before he could complete the question mark in his mind.

While he was closing the matter by finishing the process in his computer, I was just looking around at peepal around me. I saw that board again, which I had since I had entered the store. It read – “Find an error in our billing and you get double refund.” I was waiting to see if he applied this policy while processing the refund? It took him good 3-4 minutes for entire process and he gives me a refund slip and 5 rupee coin. As much as he was relived, the customers in queue were also. They hurriedly rearrange themselves like the puncture of public transport bus is fixed and they can hop over it.

While they assumed an forward gear shift to their journey, my wikidness came to life. Without taking the refund and slip in my hands, I finger to the board that says, “Find an error in our billing and you get double the refund”. I read it out for him, myself feeling completely enlightened with their policies. There are equal nuclear  reactions in the impatient minds of peepal in queue, as much as in the biller/cashier’s mind. The gear shift was in a total opposite direction, against the expectations of all three of us. The cashier/biller seemed to be completely tattered from within.

With least grace left in him, for the remaining day he takes away the refund slip, 5 rupees and starts processing the double refund. From his face one could easily make out he was vexed out completely. Few more punches on billing unit and it oozes out the double refund slip, an equally tattered 10 rupee bill is handed over to me. Finally to end the chapter, I accept it and step out of the store.

I look at my wife, signal her for a full auto ride to home as we are very much late and also because we had saved a lot while shopping today evening that can be spent now. Not forgetting the extra 5 rupees won in World War 3!


2 thoughts on “that extra 5 rupees…

    1. yes mridula. I had to. It is Mumbai. The unaccounted single rupee mounts to a total of few crores in a financial year and are un-noticed in any audits. Think! Think! Think! 🙂

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