A shopping day loomed before me. With the van going in the garage for a service and a free park and ride ticket on offer, it would have been churlish not to. Into town we go.
I'm not too bad at shopping, as in I'm not one of these grumpy men who stands by the door drumming their fingers while staring out the window. No, I can browse and mooch with the best. I'm quite partial, for example, to a visit to John Lewis. I find “I'm just popping to the basement” a useful phrase. Well, you would too, all those gleaming tellies, cameras and macbooks to browse, right next to the Men swear dept.
I stepped onto the escalator and while the gadgets dept slowly unveiled itself as the stairs glide down I metaphorically rubbed my hands together. Straight over to the Nikon stand. Well my DSLR is at least a million years old. Six megathingies, and now they go up to 34 or so. I have dreams of taking the odd pic to sell and I know my old D70s is not sufficient to make images large enough for picture agencies. I pick up a nice camera: I'm a Nikon boy, for all that Canon and so on offer, and I like what I see. It's labelled up at almost a grand. So I wander up to the youth with a name badge and ask him what the death is on the camera. He looks at me as though I am from Mars, or Newcastle or somewhere. Your best price, I prompt him. He can't speak, just points at the label. I don't want to pay that, so I give up on the camera and look at a sparkly new iPhone 7. A nice big memory. £799 on the ticket. I choose another assistant and ask her if £300 will buy the phone. She laughs and shakes her head, returning her attention immediately to the man behind me. I give up on John Lewis, and the urge for a coffee sends me towards Costa.
I don't know about you but I do object to paying £3.95 for a bit of coffee and some water, especially when I'm not even going to use their loo or anything. But could I persuade them that £2 was all it was worth, given the paucity of froth and the dent in one of the corrugations on the paper cup? Could I hell. And one of them had only gone and soiled the plastic lid by writing a big A on it in marker pen to boot: I can't even reuse that I pointed out, but they were not to be budged so I had to go without a coffee. Again. They were looking at me and giggling when I left. No idea why.
Anyway, undeterred I thought I might try and pick up a shirt or two while I was here. White Stuff caught my eye so I browsed. Goodness me but they don't half know how to charge. I'd be very surprised if they get those prices every time! WoW! I popped two shirts onto the counter and said something along the lines of how about a deal if I buy the two. She looked across at someone else and called him over. The manager apparently. I repeated my request. He said they were already reduced, but he supposed he could take another fiver off if it helps. I said that was great offer but made my starting pitch at about half the ticket price. He said something that sounded like no flipping chance and swept the shirts off the counter. The original assistant and I just stood there looking at each other blankly. Then someone else came up to the counter and just blindly handed over their card. Imagine doing that! Not even the thought of a haggle. Tsk!
I was close to giving up, but I thought I'd try one more place. I saw a furniture shop and in the window was a very cool coffee table. We've been looking for one and I thought I'd ask about it before testing the water as to its suitability etc. You can probably guess what happened. I offered a really good price just over half the ticket price and the assistant told me I'd have to wait for the summer sales. I liked it, but not THAT much. I was getting really fed up now so, reader, I gave up. And I started towards heading back to collect the van
Then I saw it. One last shop. I had to give it a go: a cornucopia of delights were on display in the window. In I went. Lots to see and look at, and I found a charming thingummy. I took it up to the counter and asked him what the best price might be. He said what's on it? I showed him the ticket. He looked me in the eye and drummed his fingers on the desk. I was steeling myself for the usual rejection when he came up with an attractive discount. Just like that! I thought that was fair and so I paid him there and then.
And with my new purchase in hand I left his shop thinking what a shame that this discounting hasn't yet caught on more widely. After all, buying high and selling low is such a good business model. I wonder why more companies don't follow it. I pulled out my phone and added the name of his shop to the list 'Antiques Shops'.