Wednesday, January 16, 2013

An Open Letter to the Indian Sales Industry

Dear Merchants of this Foreign and Distant Exotic Locale,

Let me begin by stating that in a very small way I understand your lot and plight. I too have kept landlords appeased and my belly from grumbling by touting goods and services. It's not an easy road to take. And here in your country, where the richest of the rich get bailed out of billion-dollar crimes for a mere 10,000 rupees (200 USD), one could, with no stretch, call your profession noble. The masses need camel-hide satchels and hand-stitched duvets and you're there with the goods and the "good prices" to match.

I don't mean to perplex you with this praise. For I know I've turned my nose and I've huffed in exasperation and rolled my eyes and perhaps even dramatically stormed off, but please understand why:

Place yourself in my position. Put your bare feet in my cow-dung-embedded rubber shoes and walk a mere fifteen feet, and tell me at what point the incessant madam... madam... madam... madam... madam... madam... madam... madam... madam... madam... madam.... my shop madam... good price madam... have a look madam... madam... madam... madam... madam... madam... becomes more than you can bare. Please count the moments that lead to the instant of your sanity-salvaging epiphany—feigning deafness.

I'm afraid my frustration doesn't end there. When you tell me you have a discount just for me—a best price just for me—and the price for the authentic item made by your family up north, which is sold in five countries including Germany and France and Italy is 40 percent higher than the exact same authentic item made by the family in the stall next door from up north that is sold in five countries including Germany and France and Italy... I struggle to believe that anyone's family is making or selling anything.

When you tell me people from Israel like cheap crap, so you give them the bags you make with cheap crap zippers, it really sets me in a quandary over what sort of cheap crap you're trying to coerce me into buying. And, you see, where I come from (yes, yes, Obama is your comrade and brother and yes, yes you believe he will bring peace to the world), our racism is actually quite subtle—I mean we practically disguise it—so I find your unabashed prejudice quite unsettling. But mostly that thing I said about the cheap crap zippers.

When you tell me that the both of us will have good luck if I purchase something from you because I am your first customer of the day and I sort of wanted to purchase the item before you said that and it's actually nearly sundown, what you have done is set the following paradox in front of me: Do I want to give my money to a bold-faced liar? Or if you are telling the truth, why has not one of the 500 tourists in this town who've stopped in your shop for a peek bought any of your stuff?

Also, please understand that honest individuals do not usually need to give a speech about their honest business practices—kind of like how good-looking individuals do not need to give a speech about their good looks. The evidence speaks for itself.

Please know that if I have asked the price of something and I act genuinely surprised at its price and then become reticent when you press me to offer my own good price—my best price—it's because I am too embarrassed to tell you that I thought that that 350 USD necklace was maybe four dollars, which is my actual best price, okay?

And finally, from what I can gather, this popular adage is supposed to put me at ease: "You like, you buy; no like, no buy." But so far it has only succeeded in bringing out my most disdainful and sarcastic alter-ego: "Wait, you mean if I don't like it, I don't have to buy it? I have a choice?" Because I make this solemn vow to you: If I stop in for a look and do not make a purchase, it is for one reason and one reason only: the cost of purchasing any "thing" does not trump the inconvenince of the purchase. What I'm trying to say is I just don't want anything you're selling me.



Disgruntled and Once-Sympathetic Consumer and, apparently, Overall Bad Person



  1. Roxie said...

    I think it's a good thing you're out of India. I do believe it was getting the best of you and stomping your guts out.

  2. Well written. How can we get them to read it!!!


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