If you have the guts, haggle at McDonald’s or Benetton

Do you see how people haggle with the rickshaw wallah for Rs.5 or Rs.10? It really looks stupid, especially when the same people gladly spend insane amounts at outlets like McDonald’s, Benetton, Barista and Dominos. Do you ever haggle at these places? Do you ever tell the Benetton salesperson that since you can get a better quality T-shirt on the street for Rs.150, you are not going to pay Rs.1500 for an inferior quality T-shirt from their outlet? No, you gladly purchase it just for the brand. In fact while you are being screwed, you feel privileged.

Similarly when you’re screwing the rickshaw wallah, consciously or unconsciously, you are feeling privileged. When I use the word “screwing” I don’t mean that you really mean it. No decent person wants to screw a rickshaw wallah. But it has become our habit to haggle with the poor and gladly pay big-brand outlets without blinking an eye. And that too when you’re not even getting good quality stuff.

The attitude must be totally the opposite. How does it even matter if the rickshaw wallah is charging you Rs.10 extra? Do you ever ask at Globus how they decided that a shirt should cost Rs.1200? You simply pay, or you don’t buy.

The rickshaw wallah on the other hand is a poor chap. He uses his physical strength to battle the rickshaw. Whether it is hot or cold he has to work really hard to make both ends meet. Whatever money you pay him, it is going to help him. This money is not going to go into some rich corporation’s coffers.

We have this strange attitude when it comes to spending some money on the poor, especially from our own country. When we were living in NOIDA they used to pay Rs.1.50 to the building dhobi per piece he and his family ironed. The going rate at that time in other buildings was Rs.2. Just because he and his family had no option (these dhobis are, understandably, very territorial) the building residents wouldn’t pay an extra Rs.0.50. There were many households who regularly had Rs.500 pizza.

Of course it’s up to you how and where you want to spend your money, but how much would it hurt you to give Rs.10 extra to the rickshaw wallah even if you think that he is cheating you or overcharging you? You are not going to go bankrupt. Rs.5 save here and Rs.10 there aren’t going to make you rich. If you want to save money, stop spending on junk food and overpriced brands.

So the next time you use a rickshaw, don’t even ask how much he is going to charge before mounting. When you have reached your destination, ask him what is the amount, and then just pay.

5 thoughts on “If you have the guts, haggle at McDonald’s or Benetton

    1. Amrit Hallan

      Thanks for sharing the Quora discussion thread, and in theory I totally agree with what people are saying. The point I’m trying to make about is more holistic rather than behavioral or economical. We may have different reasons to haggle, but the point that I’m trying to make is that since a poor person can make better use of the money he or she is running, why not pay that person more? Again, it is a holistic thinking and it has got nothing to do with behavioral dynamics.

      1. Ashish

        Well then, you are advocating for charity in this form. May be people are doing it in other form – or not doing at all. There is no obligation on one to do charity. Would you want to chastise someone for not donating?

        1. Amrit Hallan

          Charity is a different concept. I call this nationbuilding. The problem in our country in particular and Third World countries in general is that we don’t spend at right places. We spend money on superficial things but not where it really matters. In the West, services are quite expensive, whether it is housekeeping, plumbing or something else. In fact these services are so expensive that people prefer to do them on their own. In our country, simply because we can avail these services cheaply we neither value these services, nor respect people who provide them. You see, it is not as simple a concept as is discussed in the above-mentioned Quora link.

          The mere fact that where we weild no power – paying money to big corporations and the government as tax – we have no problem, but the mere thought of paying something extra to a rickshaw pullar or a vegetable vendor by the side of the road elicits debates shows what civilizational clarity we have. We bury ourselves in the pile of inanities instead of trying to see the bigger picture.

  1. Ram Ruccess Krishna

    Well traditionally Water ,Salt Education and communication are basic needs to live with pride ,dignity and Honor, If you impose penalty of USD 10,000 Crore $ (dollars) I think we don’t have to chase these company from India. they have to pack up their bag on their own………… Violation of fundamental rights guaranteed under UN Rights and constitution of India…

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