Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Right Price

Helmets have never been a high priority purchase in our family. The law requires some dark coloured protection for the skull, and that's the extent to which we interpret the law. Style was never a criteria. Our family vehicle for four long years was the Fiat. (Read about the car - Introduction, School, Road Trips, Sounds). My own personal two-wheeler was an average looking bicycle till class 10th. From class 11th, I was the co-owner of a whining TVS Moped (with a whopping 60cc engine !). It had seen good days in Mhow. By the time it tasted the roads of Delhi, it was over 6 years old. Since the vehicle wasn't a source of pride for me, buying an ostentatious helmet wasn't really a real concern. And there's the other reason...

I have a...amm...amm...big head. Oh god! The tragedy,,,the shame ! Oh the shame ! Bad helmets, ill fitting caps, bewildered looks of friends and shopkeepers who discovered this abnormality....sniff sniff...

Anyway, a week back we needed a replacement for our helmet. Since I was the aberration in the otherwise standard head-sized family, I was assigned the duty this time for purchasing an appropriate helmet. Directives were simple :
1. Find something that fits your head
2. Don't peruse branded or extravagent models
3. Go for a simple design - no chin guards or natural air vents

That evening, I cruised dilli roads for a helmet. The moment I spotted one, I had an awful "lets NOT go shopping !" feeling. I dragged my feet on the dusty path to the heap of helmets and the sales-MAN.

Helmet terms aren't a standardized lot. When enquiring about laptops, I can mechanically specify terms like Centrino, RAM, DVD Combo etc. But who knows what they coloqially call a chin-guard in a helmet ? Gangways are called taraapa, Reinforcement is called Sariya. So I assisted my sales-MAN by vigorous hand actions. "Bhaiya, Helmet mein (cupped my ears), chin guard (rapid shaving action), nahi chahiye ! (broad hand movement)." Sales-MAN apparently understood my charade, and brought the flimsiest piece from the stack.

I recognized the model. I smiled and told him I already had one like that at home and it doesn't fit me. He wasn't perplexed by the fact. He placed the helmet on my head. The piece was literally floating on top. I gave him an 'I told you so!' expression - "Bhaiya, mera sar BADA hai." Nope. Sales-MAN wasn't convinced. He used his favourite arsenal - "Arre,,,wo adjust ho jaaega. wo kuch din baad fit ho jaata hai." I removed it and placed it on HIS head. It was a normal fit. He wasn't swayed by this obvious fallacy. He repeated his give it some time routine. I sighed and asked for a different model.

He brought out the roadside showroom's "branded" stuff. He tested waters - "badiya hai. company maal hai. 380 ka padega." "Ha!", I sneered. My last drop of enthusiasm trickled away. "Agar 200 types bhi hota to khareed leta." It seemed to be a millimetre larger than my skull size - a few shades better than the stuff I'd worn before. My ear tips stuck out from the sides. It would have been impossible to explain this to Sales-MAN. And the price !! Who had the energy to bargain ! I called up my father and told him the same. He reiterated - buy it ONLY if it fits you. Aha ! The perfect loophole !

To make a clean exit, I thought I would try and be completely honest with him. I gave him 3 reasons for quitting the bargaining exercise - It doesn't seem to fit me. I don't like the price. And I don't want to make this decision on my own. Sales-MAN made his move.

S-MAN : 200 de deejiye."
ME : "Bhaiya. abhi nahi khareedna hai. kal pitaji ke saath aa kar khareedoonga." (I am not buying it now. I'll come with my father tomorrow and purchase it)
I took a step towards the scooter.
S-MAN : "theek hai. 190 deejiye".
ME : "Bhaiya. mein jhooth nahi bol raha. mein kal AA raha hoon. abhi nahi khareedna." (I am NOT lying. I am coming tomorrow. I DON'T want to buy it now.)
S-MAN : "abhi le leejiye. nahi pasand aaye to kal lauta dena." (Buy it now. If you don't like it, you can return it tomorrow.)
I wore my old helmet and unlocked the scooter.
ME : "Bhaiya !!!! kal AA raha hoon. abhi NAHI le raha." (I am COMING tomorrow. I am NOT buying it now).
S-MAN : "180 de deejiye."
I thought this was going nowhere. Maybe a little eyebrow-raising would convey my point. I removed the old helmet.

ME : "Bhaiya. MERI BAAT MAAN LO. mein iss road par har din jaata hoon. jhoot nahi bol raha. KAL AA RAHA HOON !" (I travel on this road everyday. I am not lying. I AM COMING TOMORROW.)
S-MAN : "160 de deejiye final."

I gave up. I tried the same helmet again. It seemed just right - my ear bottom could do with a little ventilation. Snug fit was definitely better than a floating accessory. Two things were apparent - I would never get this price again. I had unknowingly made my life's best bargain. The dissapointing fact was the price would not drop further. I paid up 160/- and drove off adorned with a brand new helmet.

I wonder if sales-MAN would have lowered the price further. Did I hit the right price ?

7 comments:

  1. he he ... sahi jaa rahe ho aiyer....
    bargaining seekh li na finally....
    "main jhooth nahin bol raha hoon" ... too muchh...very funny....

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  2. Not bad da!!!... U and bargaining?? what if it was inintentional, it was successful nevertheless! :)

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  3. Amazing anecdote :) I guess that's why they say that the first lesson of effective bargaining is not to appear too interested :)

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  4. Abw tu dilli mmein shopping karne zaroor jaaya kar .. tere experiece price less hote hai

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  5. u can bargain? why didnt u display similar skills on that eventful day? Sigh... just my luck :P

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  6. Awesome,
    2 points on helmets.
    1, I did a similar purchase when I was in grade 9 near Hauz Khas, got home a helmet with "Tested OK" stickers all over it. When I removed one of them, the paint was actually absent. Same when I unpeeled all the other stickers. You got to check what you buy in Delhi.
    2, Seinfeld once said something interesting aboiut helmets. Goes like, "Human beings invent a helmet for their head which cannot tell them to drive safely". Or something like that....

    Good one, keep going pal...
    -M

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  7. So I'm not the only bargain-shy guy around here..
    Hilarious, BTW! :D

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