The other day I went to one of these McMalls to exchange something. Now, the absurdity of most malls’ exchange policies deserves another post, so I won’t even get into the up-and-downing I did that day. Suffice it to say that by the time I’d done with the exchange, I was in a very bad temper.
So on my way out, I presented the guy at the counter with my exchange coupon and idly looked at all the things in baskets kept close by for some last-minute temptation. Among all the nail polishes and lipsticks was one basket full of thin, tall vials of perfume (I guess they think malls are peopled with women shoppers. Someone should do a study). Almost every one of these perfumes had printed, sticky labels saying FREE, so I naturally asked the guy at the counter if they really were for free. Like, could I just pick one of my choice and put it in my bag without all the store alarms going off and shop tecs doing the polite thing by taking me to a quiet place to be interrogated.
Now, I love perfumes, but I don’t use them often. There’s nothing more nauseating than stale perfume on a hot afternoon. If you want to know what I mean, just walk along M Block market in Delhi when the generators are on and aunties are wafting by and you’ll know what I mean.
So, while I didn’t really want the perfume, free or not, I did want to know whether free meant, you know, Free.
The Guy At The Counter hit a few keys hard, stared at the screen, called for a hasty, whispered conference with the other Guys At The Counters. I was beginning to enjoy myself. While they dithered and made frantic calls to person or persons unknown, I examined every minute label on the bottles very ostentatiously. I even pulled out a small notebook, I think. The Guys At The Counters went into a tizzy.
“In the system it says Rs. 199, ma’am,” they said apologetically.
“Then why would it have a label that clearly said FREE?” I asked.
In a short while, the manager came. “Ma’am, it’s buy-one-get-one-free, ma’am.”
“Where does it say so?” I wanted to know.
By this time, other people were trying not to look interested. I gave the manager a short lecture on misleading customers but had to stop pretty soon and get out because of the giggles that were threatening.
I’ve decided that if I must endure malls at all, I must take the spaniard with me for some outrage and entertainment value.