Friday, March 06, 2009

Saved a Hundred Bucks, Picked Up Fifteen

"Luck never gives; it only lends."

Swedish proverb

Remember my Sony MP3 Player? The one I wrote about last year? Well, there's this little USB cable that came with it; a necessary implement that allows me to move files in and out of the gadget, and more importantly, charge its battery. In other words, my MP3 player - all half-a-thousand-bucks of it - is little more than a paperweight (one which is too small, too light to actually weight down any paper, by the way) without that cable. It is also not screwed on, superglued or welded to my MP3 player. I think you already know where I'm heading with this.

Naturally, as naturally as breathing, eating or pooping, I lost it. It's kind of like my superpower. I can make things disappear without exerting any effort at all. I can also do other cool things like not move, digest food or fail exams, also by simply exercising my amazing talent of non-exertion.

The market price of the cable at the time of my misplacement of it was RM 50. I said "at the time of my misplacement of it" because that point of time was nowhere near the present at all. I actually lost it sometime last year. That's my other superpower; heroic procrastination.

I only got around to trying to replace it a month ago and visited a Sony store at Bukit Cina. A youngish, tall woman who works there told me they were fresh out of USB cables, but whispered conspiratorially to me that she did have one stashed somewhere which she ordered for herself. She said that since I'm cute and has superpowers, she'd let me have it first so I don't have to wait for her to send for another. Sweet, I said and asked her how much I owe her for it.

She told me that it's probably RM 50 but she insisted on checking with her supplier first. So I sat there and waited while she made a phone call. After a bit, she got back to me with an expression on her face which would probably be more at home on an oncologist.

"Uh, the price went up," she began hesitantly.

"Alright, how much?" I asked.

"It's a lot more than I expected..."

"Uhuh?" C'mon. Get on with it, woman.

"It's RM 160."

"Oh," I said, and a heavy silence followed.

She explained that the original manufacturer for the USB cable had shut down their factory, and that Sony had contracted another company to continue the line - as if that explains why an already disproportionately expensive spare part trebled its original price. What would really explain the absurd rise, however, is that Sony must have recently added extortion to their repertoire of business policies. They knew we couldn't do shit without the cable. Luckily, I am not insane; so I was not at all willing to shell out that much moolah for a simple length of wiring.

"I don't think I'm taking it then," I managed at last. "Thanks anyway."

What, they are using gold wires to make them now?

"Sorry, I was also shocked that they would raise the price this much," she told me right before I left. Sony, there must be something seriously fucked up about your prices if your own sales representatives are apologising for it.

I headed to the Sony outlet in the Mahkota Parade mall next, and the bloke there told me that they just sold their last cable (priced at RM 60, said he) earlier that afternoon, and said that I should return one week later when they get some new stock. I did exactly what he said but by the ensuing week, he too had receive the memo about the price hike, giving me the same story about Sony switching manufacturers and inadvertently affirming its veracity to me. I wish I got a picture of just how genuinely sheepish he appears to be about it (your agents hate you, Sony).

Now, let's fast forward to last Saturday when I was at 1 Utama with Phoebe. I visited the Sony Centre there with the stubborn hope that they might still have some old RM 50 cables left in their inventory. It wasn't a really big hope, I admit. It's just a teensy-weensy one - the sort naive people keep in the face of an impending nuclear holocaust. I asked the middle-aged Chinese dealer guy behind the counter there about it, and waited as he rummaged through a cabinet. To my dismay, what he produced was the RM 160 one. I recognised how it looks like, that smug snakey son of a bitch.

"How much?" I asked wearily, and prepped for worst.

"Wait a minute," he said, thumbing through some receipts and invoices. He became flustered when he couldn't find what he was looking for s0 he asked an equally clueless colleague about it, to no avail. After about another minute of harrumphing at the mess of papers he got on his hands, he finally got back to me with,

"If I'm not mistaken, it should be about RM 70."

Alright. Must keep face straight.

"Are you sure?" Really, really sure about that? The guy might be making a big mistake here, and this is just me giving him a chance to catch up on it. Boy, I feel just like that host guy on Who Wants to be a Millionaire.

"Well, it's thereabouts," he replied unconvincingly. "I can let you have it for RM 68."

Wait, was he trying to... was he trying to sell me the thing at what he thought was an inflated price? I looked at the cable once more just to be sure. Yes, it's the RM 160 one, no doubt about that.

Now hold it. Was I being dishonest here? It's not like I was deliberately deceiving him or anything, right? In fact, I even went out of the way and asked him if he was certain about the price, and he had had every chance in the world to verify it. Also, there's that remote possibility that its the previous two dealers who were trying to pull a fast one on me after all. Exactly what records of stupidity would I be breaking if I told this particular dealer that the other Sony stores were selling the new cables at triple of what he's asking for? I was visibly hesitant about it. Stupid conscience, stop being such a pain. I'm not lying. I'm just practicing pragmatic silence...

"RM 66. Final price,"
he offered, blissfully oblivious to the real reason for my hesitation.

"Okay," I said automatically and paid him the sum. R.I.P conscience, it's been nice knowing ya.

And today,

A Fiver and a Tenner
Free money.

I was walking through Pahlawan Mall with Shaki today when I spotted a tenner and a fiver lying on the floor, right where I was walking. I stopped and picked them up, natch, and looked around to see if there's anyone nearby who looks like he or she is RM 15 poorer. Truth be told, there wasn't a lot of people there at all. The place is always a little empty on Friday afternoons.

"So, what do I do with this?" I asked Shaki.

"Well, can you see anyone who look as if they are looking for these?" he said.


"Keep it then," he suggested wisely. He's so full of sagacity, that Shaki.

"Right," I said, and slipped the notes into my pocket.

I did keep an eye out thereafter for anybody who might be hunting for the missing cash though, up till the time I left the premises in the evening. There wasn't any, fortunately.

I meant to say unfortunately! Stupid typo.

On the up side of the wheel,
k0k s3n w4i


MichelleG said...

whoa usually i wont keep money that i found on the floor to myself. i'd donate it to whichever charity/temple that i happen to stumble upon. since it's not mine and someone must be really sad to lose them so might as well donate and do something good with it be it rm10 or 50cents. that's my principle ;)

k0k s3n w4i said...

MichelleG: I donated half of it to Shaki.