Friday, December 22, 2006

'Tis the season to be....frustrated.....

A friend of mine who I have known for a couple of years (we met in Hong Kong) has just recently moved to Manila to work, up to now she has been based in Cebu. Knowing me as impatient, intolerant person she cannot believe the change that Manila has wrought on me...I now stand patiently in a long, slow queue, I smile sweetly when stressed and take all that Manila can throw at me with a vague smirk...

However, the build up to the festive season has sorely tested my new found serenity, reminding me of all the things that drive me crazy here...and guess what? I'm going to offload on you, dear reader....

Taxis
Already a rarity under normal circumstances, during the month of December taxis become as rare as hen's teeth (particularly those that will take you where you actually want to go). Normally I can wait for about 10-15 minutes for a taxi to go home at night....during December that can stretch to an hour or more....at the end of a 14-15 hour day that is not an appealing wait.

Cashpoint/ATM/ETC machines
After 8pm (or thereabouts) the connection between the different banks' machines doesn't work so well (I'm being polite here!)...so you have to find your own bank's machine. The queues are horrendously long...I counted 50 people in one queue at the Shang Mall the other day - I joke not. The main reason the queues are so long is that it seems you cannot withdraw more than P10,000 (about HK$1600) in one shot..I stood behind someone the other day who had to carry out five seperate transactions to withdraw P50,000...the reason that this much cash is needed leads me neatly to my next point...

Credit Cards / Debit cards
My SuperEase card(debit card) in Hong Kong can be used for any amount of money provided the money is in my account...if I go into a shop and make purchases of HK10,000 I can swipe my SuperEase and the bill is paid...here my debit card is good for only P5,000 per day. If I want to use my credit card for a significant purchase, i have to provide photographic ID as back up and either have to make a phone call to my bank or expect to receive a phone call confirming the purchase...if I'm spending HK$50,000 I could understand that...but this is for the equivalent of about HK$3,000.

Grocery Shopping
None of the supermarkets I frequent (Rustans or SM) have a conveyor belt at the cashier's till and to make the situation worse, the area for the shopping to be placed on is tiny (about the size of the ones at Oliver's in Prince's Building). Now given that the population here shops in bulk for groceries, unlike HKG where groceries are purchased on a 'as required basis', these two factors can make for a very, very slow grocery shopping experience. Even more frustrating when after confirming that even though the supermarket is now under different management they still do delivery, after waiting in line for about 40 minutes and then taking 15 minutes to process my shopping, I am told there is now no delivery as the supermarket is under different management (thanks Rustans)...so I had two options - get a refund on all the shopping or struggle upstairs with bottles of water, a crate of beer, cat food etc etc (all the heavy) stuff and stand in line for a taxi for an hour or so... I went for the refund route...only took about 20 minutes...I was quite impressed!

Other shopping...
So many stores do not use barcode readers...M&S is a major culprit of this....every item has to have its code entered independently and every price label torn off....trust me, on a normal day its irritating...during Christmas when people are buying (and this is no exaggeration) 25 pairs of socks, 10 bottles of shower gel and 15 boxes of handkerchiefs in one purchase; it can take 30 minutes to process the items and pay - and then...they are all wrapped individually in tissue and then the paper bags...

And finally...the sticky labels that the stores use...and I mention particularly M&S and the book stores (Fully Booked and Powerbooks) are almost impossible to remove without damaging the surface of the book or packet, regardless of how long you take over it or how ever much nail polish remover one uses....


So there you have it...the masses of people and the traffic around town are not really the things that bother me....it is the sheer difficulty of actually making the purchase that gets to me. If shops/banks make it easy to spend money then people will...it's that simple...

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3 Comments:

Blogger Spike said...

Lemme tell ya, you find the lack of bar code scanners frustrating? Working for one of the companies that sells goods to SM, Rustans, etc., I can't tell you how frustrating it is that they cannot provide sales figures per SKU. They don't capture items at the register, just price points. For small shops this is one thing, but for major nation-wide chains it's freaking ridiculous. It's not just a problem for us; it means that they are not capable of doing efficient inventory management or supply chain, which in turn results in higher prices for you. Well, merry effing xmas!

5:31 pm  
Blogger the amateur misanthrope said...

re: removing sticky labels from book. use lotion or lubricant (KY works especially well, as with everything else, hehe) to take off the sticky residue. oh, and rubbing it all off requires patience, too. or if you purchased the book for yourself, don't bother to take off the price label as i do. it's a memento.

11:37 pm  
Blogger dgny said...

I use stuff called Goo Gone. I know you can get it in HK, not sure about the Phils. It works incredibly well on all sticky things as well as taking grease stains out of clothing (I seem to be very good at getting these on t-shirts).

10:13 pm  

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