In my last entry, I was just about to embark on a month long vacation which would take me through Tokyo, to North Carolina, Ohio, back to Tokyo and then finishing in Saigon. I’m now on my last leg of the trip and writing from my hotel in the Tokyo town of Ikebukuro. These holiday trips always go so fast and after months of waiting for them, they are over in the blink of an eye.
I didn’t get a chance to write about my experience going back to America but now that I’m sitting here in my hotel suffering from jet-lag, to awake to sleep but too tired to go out, I thought this would be a good chance to write about some of my discoveries.
As most of you know, I rarely write unless I get fired up over some political story or some shocking discovery. Well, I had a few shocks in America that I feel like writing about and sharing with the rest of the world.
When you travel to Vietnam, the guide book tells you to watch out for getting overcharged or “nickeled and dimed” when you go to Saigon. Sometimes the local merchants will try and charge higher prices but it’s usually by only a dollar or two. This gives many people a bad impression of the wonderful people that are the Saigonese.
What I discovered in America is that the Vietnamese may “nickel and dime” foreigners from time to time but it is nothing compared to the outright thievery practiced by some American companies. These companies outright rob their customers and they don’t even know it.
1. Rebates – Rebates are the biggest form of stealing that I came across in America. I went to Best Buy to purchase a few items, almost all of which advertised a price in bold letters for lets say $30 and in small letters, “with rebate.” The actual price of the item turned out to be almost $70!!! While purchasing the item the clerk handed me receipts three miles long for the rebates from three different companies! It took me almost an hour to figure out what which receipts, bar codes cut from the boxes, and other miscellanea to send to the retailer, manufacturer and distributor.
The layperson may not give it a second thought, but as a business major and one who has lived abroad and knows to be on guard for swindling I was outraged. This is outright stealing from the customer since the retailers, distributors, and manufactures know damn well that maybe half of the customers won’t bother to do it which increases their profits. If the price is advertised as $30, then the customer should be charged $30 at the damn cashiers counter. Even if you do get all the rebates sent, there is no guarantee you will get your money and it also states you must wait about three months.
2. Pay as you go Sim Cards for cell phones. I have a quad band cell phone that I can use in Vietnam and America. I bought the phone last year in America as well as an American Sim card. In Vietnam, it’s very cheap to buy a sim card and the pay as you go is also pretty cheap. But when I went back to America, I found out that my SIM card was cancelled and I had to get a new number. This is because if you don’t use it for 30 days they will cancel it. Also, the pay as you go costs either a dollar a day plus ten cents a call, or 25 cents per call. I opted for the second option but found out that $25 only lasts about a week! If you call someone and get voice mail, it’s 25 cents. You also get charged for incoming calls. What a rip off!!
3. My mother bought a printer for the computer and I was completely dumbfounded to learn that the cord which connects the printer to the computer had to be “purchased separately.” This is again, a business’s efforts to rip off the consumer by making them purchase every damn part separately so the printer can seem like a good deal until you have to purchase all the damn parts to make the thing actually work. What’s next, purchasing the power cord, buttons, screws etc, separately??? I thought America was a developed country!!
Aside from those incidents however, my trip back was a great one. It was good to catch up with old friends, hit my favorite restaurants and go to the movies which huge screens. I will be however, glad to get back to Saigon where they aren’t yet that sophisticated in the art of thievery.