Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Okay so I live in Mexico, a country where haggling of prices and finding the bargain is the way business is done. It is known for it's corruption and the jacking up of prices for the "Gringo," oh that would be me. In a way it' fun, esp since I have lived in Mexico for so long I know all the tricks and usually make out with a good deal.
Now when I am in the U.S. I expect to go to a store and have the price of the item rung up at the register using the bar code and paying the price that the item has been marked. Sometimes people make mistakes and the item is advertised differently then the price that is rung up. When that happens it is customary for the store to sell the item to the customer at the advertised price, which is usually lower.
These past couple weeks I have been in EL Paso, a border town in the U.S. and have been surprised at how many times the local merchants have overcharged me for things. it's usually just 10-50 cents more and normally they catch it almost before I do.
The other day I go into a T-Mobile store to pay my phone bill. And the guy tells me that to pay there T-mobile will add a $5.00 processing fee. so I asked him when T-Mobile started charging their customers an extra $5.00 to pay their bills. I told him I thought that was a great way for them to lose business. He said that starting last month no matter how you pay your phone bill, over the phone, by mail or in a T-mobile store it would cost an additional $5.00. That on their website is the only way I wouldn't get charged.
To say the least I was very surprised and ready to switch phone carriers if that was the case. So I called T-Mobile customer service right there in his store from my phone and after 10 minutes on hold got to talk to a representative and they assured me that that was absolute nonsense, I would never be charged extra to pay my bill. So I payed over the phone with T-Mobile directly.
This one place where I have been getting my gas and sometimes drinks at has done it to me like 6 times. They ring the price up, $.99 for my tea then they cancel it out and type in $1.59 and the first time I didn't notice cuz I was paying for gas and a sandwich and so it got lost. The next day I bought just the tea and the cashier types in $1.59 with tax a total of $1.72 and I was like,
"Sir I thought those are $.99" "Nope it's $1.59" he tells me. I asked him to scan the bar code. He tells me he "won't because it will ring up at $.99" And so I ask, "then isn't that the price your supposed to sell it at?" "Nope the computers wrong!" So I go back to the cooler to see what the advertised price is as it's customary to honor that. Low and behold, no price advertised!
So I decide to go ahead and buy it. All that night I deliberated if I should bring it up to a manager the next day as I don't like to think people are getting "jacked" at the register. I decided to let it go. A couple days later I was in the same store getting gas and a drink and the same thing happens, with a different drink. So I asked to talk to the manager and explained what has been happening and was told that lots of items are coded wrong but that there's nothing they can do about it and so on. So I told them they should at least have a sign up explaining that to people or to advertise the prices at the item your buying. But I have not bought anything there anymore.
I am surprised though to see how many places here and how often they try to do that. I don't know if it's just a Mexican habit that they have ingrained in them or if it really is them just trying to squeeze a bit more out of people when they can.
All that to say, when staying in El Paso keep an eye on what they ring up and check your receipt.