Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Just One of Those Things

A funny thing happened at Wal-Mart today. First off -- yes, there is a Wal-Mart here. Isn't it everywhere? We have to drive about 2 hours, but it made for a special for the kids. Wal-Mart isn't the bargain shopping adventure in Mexico that it is in the States. In general, prices are about 30% higher across the board. Some imported items, specifically electronics, are closer to 50% higher. Ouch. We try to avoid purchasing a whole lot at Wal-Mart. Most of the things we need can be found in the local mercado and some things we buy north of the border and import. Coffee, for instance. And instant pudding.

Today though, we bought something. I'm not saying exactly what the something is, because the kids have access to the net and we would like it to be a surprise. The item itself isn't that funny, nor is the fact that we paid way more than the item is worth. The funny thing about it is the receipt. It's written in invisible ink. Seriously!!! I kid you not! The ink used in the little printer-thingys fades away. We know this from experience, because about a year ago our then-landlord tried to get us to pay a bill we had already paid. We had the receipt -- but it had faded until you could just barely read the amount. Still, this isn't the really funny thing. The really funny thing is that the checker told Doug, very nonchalantly as if this were a matter of course, "The [product] has a one year guarantee, but you need the receipt showing the date of purchase and the ink will fade away after three months, so you need to go get a copy of the receipt before it fades." Pause. Blink.

OK, so they know that there is a problem, and their solution is to tell the customer to copy the receipt? Why not buy better ink? So, I sigh, shake my head and copy the receipt. Is that enabling? I think I'll just call it cultural adaptation.

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