A Sad Tale

December 25 or not, today was a typical day in China. Jie-jie went to school and Mei-mei and I decided to go to the toy market to pick up some gifts for the kids we had dinner with tonight. At the market, I stopped by the place where they sell Wii games. I purchased Wii resort sports, Wii fit plus, and a dance game. I bargained (which I do not enjoy in the least) and had them test each game in the wii to make sure that it worked (and that the software that they used to play the games is the same that I have on my wii). Wii resort sports was for Jason and Wii fit plus was for me. The other was something different to play around with.

I was quite excited to try out my new game and devastated when my wii was unable to run the disk. What is so annoying ab0ut this all is that the copy I purchased was only 5 rmb (not even $1 US), I asked to buy the original disk but she did not have one to sell. Even if she had it, she would have charged about 30 rmb (under $5 US). Wii fit plus is selling full-price in the States for $19.95 (almost 140 rmb).

Let me ask you, reader, do you think that I would gladly give 140 rmb for an authorized disk of Wii fit plus that I could find without having to traipse all over the city,  and that I could bring back to the store in the event that it did not work? Darn right I would!

Some people really enjoy shopping here, but I absolutely do not for 2 reasons:

1. I want to trust in the seller when it comes to the quality of the merchandise and would gladly pay more if they would only offer items I could trust and return in the event that I was not satisfied.

2. I was raised to believe that an honest saleperson asks an honest price and an honest customer pays it. That is my own cultural programming (as they say in the world of diversity training – see my dissertation for more information). I know that is only one way of making meaning around selling things and that in China bargaining is considered quite important and enjoyable – the establishment of a relationship of mutual respect between buyer and seller, and that those who do not engage in bargaining are seen as weak, arrogant, and/or disrespectful. I know all of this, and find that I am worse off as a result because I feel uncomfortable bargaining due to my own cultural background, AND I feel the pressure of bargaining correctly – as if my failure to really push for that additional change in price will reflect negatively on all Americans and make them think ill of me when, in truth, I would gladly pay the difference to be excused from the whole dastardly situation.

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