The art of bargain hunting.

Dubai based UAE blogger, Moryarti from the Dubai Consumer Mirror had an interesting conversation with a sales clerk at a Co-op, an excellent little snapshot of promotional techniques that are fundamentally broken, but seem to continue as a means of shifting product - primarily I suspect because they work.

At least I hope that's why they persist, SOMEONE has to be running the figures... don't they?
Please go read it... I'll wait here - won't take you long. (It will also help you make sense of this small rant)

Read it?

Right, buckle up.

You see, this is just another example my pure enjoyment of this large sandy land that is my temporary home.
In the west we have become wise to the concept of there being no such thing as a free lunch, and whatever product that has been picked up for a steal - from cars to chocolate bars - the piper will ultimately have to be paid.

It is not in a company's best interest to simply give their stock away - unless it is defective and they were going to burn it, bury it or sell it at cost to e-bay drop shippers.

Deep down we know it - and so to combat our self empowered consumer savvy, western marketing companies resort to massive marketing campaigns and exclusion based display techniques, amongst other things. All to distract the consumer with bright shiny baubles and flashing lights; for while distracted, the poor sap who is being parted their hard earned won't wake up to the trickery until the wrapping paper is gone.

...or they are being stung for taxes at the departure gate.

...or hounded by the accessories rep at the car dealership.

...or the cash-back offer comes back in the post, at the same time the spam brokers are receiving their details
in THEIR mail-box. Details that got sold because to get the money the punter had to sign a waiver, the
companies then on-sell the details for MORE than the cash back value - genius (if, in spirit, somewhat dishonest)

The list goes on.

What I LOVE about the conversation that Moryarti had is the complete lack of subterfuge. Whether by design, or whether the shelf loaders are just so hell-bent on getting the job done and are not encouraged to have free thought, I don't know.

It's not as if the Moryarti had to move to another isle to make the comparison either - because the comparison is usually within a couple of shelf spaces. Full disclosure, all aspects of the equation right there in front of him. Mr "M" just needed to do the calculation is all, and avoid staring at the Medusa that is the "BONUS" sticker.

That said - I now treat it like a sport and LOVE it when I get had. Seriously. I often find myself realising the folly of my choice, loudly proclaiming to the printing on the heat sensitive receipt: "Hah.. you really got me there... ha HA, next time super-market-bonus-people - you won't be so lucky...mwahahahahaahaha *cough* hahaahahaha"

I am the primary shopper of the Bayt Al Abudhabilists, although my preferred position description is:
Stock inventory controller(perishables, liquids and dry goods),
Waste Management Technician,
Street cat tamer (3rd class)
Ranting quality controller (coffee product)
Middle Eastern Branch

Whatever my trumped up title, I should know better, or at least given the proceeding couple of paragraphs I at least sound like I should.

Right now in the Abudhabilist HQ is a tower of soap bars you couldn't jump over. Well, okay you could jump over them, but in comparison to the regular soap bar usage vs storage equation - 12 bars is alot o' soap.




Because it said BONUS on the wrapper. Thus turning my thought process to stone.

I even stared blankly at the single bars that come in 2 sizes and then 2 price points.. and although I had the sneaking suspicion that I was about to be ... ummm... taken advantage of, I still found myself reaching for the cleverly taped up tower o' soap in all of its neutral perfumed lathery goodness.

Once home in the sanctity of ADist HQ I looked at the receipt.. I also looked at another reciept that was still in the bottom of the reusable bag.

An older receipt showing that the last time this recyclable bag had been trotted out it was used to ferry home, along with some other stuff, a single bar of soap.

I made a cup of tea from a box of teabags I purchased months ago that, given my limited tea intake should last me to Christmas 2012.
I did the calculations.
Then did them again.
Then began laughing.
For the same money - instead of buying 12 soaps jauntily taped together, I could have been the proud owner of 15 "free range" bars.

The taping did make for convenient loading and unloading though. That's gotta be worth something... right?

Finally -

Whatever the poorly executed bonus package (my wife has soooo many bonus lip balms from her moisturiser she could open her own shop), I find it hysterical that even though all the information is right there in front of the consumer - the bonus-but-crap-economic-deal shelf will be the first to empty.

Every time.

It's probably a good job that I have nothing to do with super market promotions, I'd have too much fun.
Now, if you'll excuse me. I have some shopping to do.


  1. Jilly Bean15:27

    Here's a tale to amuse you, since you like to be "had" -

    I took my shoe, which broke at work, to a nearby cobbler. I handed over the shoe, and sat down (on the floor) to wait for the repair to be effected.

    Whilst I was waiting, they offered me a cup of tea. In my home country of Zimbabwe, it's considered rude to refuse an offer of refreshment, no matter how little you want it.

    Although the Pakistani cobbler was clearly not Zimbabwean (!) I was worried that the same rule might apply, so I thanked him and accepted the tea (loaded with sugar and milk, and so not how I would ordinarily drink tea).

    In the interim, a gentleman from the subcontinent came in and bought a new pair of sandals, for AED 15.00.

    When the heel on my shoe had been repaired, and the tea was finished, I asked how much I owed. "Twenty dirhams" came the straight faced reply.

    I suggested that this was a little unreasonable, considering that another customer had bought a NEW pair of shoes for less.

    "Ah" said the cobbler, with irrepressible logic, "but he didn't have tea."

    What can I say....?!


  2. HAH!

    Nice one! I would have started laughing right there in the shop - much to the keepers concern I would suggest.

  3. I read a story today in Arabian Busines (AR) that Union Coop is slashing prices by 30% for Ramadan... yeah right :)

  4. But.. if it was published Mr Moryarti, it HAS to be true... doesn't it?

    My "Had" bargain nerve is itching at the mere thought.

    (Please tell me that applies to wind up barking somersaulting dogs too... on second thoughts don't, I don't have the space)


Andrew Webber is a writer, living in Abu Dhabi with his wife, two cats and two dogs.

His first book "Erasure" was published in June 2012 and was followed in 2013 by the Prequel to Erasure, "Broken".

In 2016 Erasure was a prize winner in the Montegrappa Writing Prize - part of the Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature.

For more information click the "Erasure" book cover on the left side of this site, or simply go to www.athwebber.com

Thanks for visiting.