The Bargainer, the Freeloader and the Non-Shopper Walk Into a Mall


The Bargainer, the Freeloader and the Non-Shopper Walk Into a Mall

Illustration: Sushant Ahire

To tick all the boxes on the hipster list, I visited a pizza place in Mumbai where you make your own pizza with a bunch of friends. Apparently, this is what people do now. We make our own sandwiches, our own pizzas… someday, we’ll even be handed over the kitchen, cutlery, and they’ll tell us to make the food ourselves and clean after that.

I had no clue how to go about making the topping, but in an attempt to fit in, I confidently mixed vegetables, different types of cheese and sauces that don’t go well with each other, garnished them on a bread and made what could easily be the worst pizza ever made. But there was no one I could blame for this disaster. After all, I’d handpicked every aspect of it. My pizza was all wrong, but it taught me an important life lesson.

The customer is NOT always right. Here are the five types of customers who are invariably at fault.

The Frustrated Fella

There is a part of the population that thinks it’s a fun activity to call folks at Airtel, Vodafone, and just abuse them for over an hour, for no reason at all. It’s one thing to let out frustration after a long day at work by snapping at your partner, and another to yell at the customer service employees, knowing very well that they have no option but to listen to your crap patiently. There is a patron saint for peeps like this, and his name is Arnab Goswami. I hope the Venn diagram of people who are assholes to customer service and the people who receive bad service is an equal set.

“Call the Manager” Guy

This guy is always on edge and invariably starts a conversation with the same question “Who’s the manager? Call him.” He needs a replacement, but hasn’t received a receipt or bill, which is standard procedure. So he decides to unleash hate on the poor sales executive and tries to get him fired from his job in a difficult economy, for merely doing his job.

This is the same guy from school who ran to the teacher and complained to ensure that someone got punished.

The Pesky Non-Shopper

While assholes are in the minority, there is a significant number of customers who love to waste everyone’s time. Of course, these are not genuine buyers who are curious about products they really want to buy. These are people who come to the mall to eat at the food court. They roam around to build an appetite and walk into an electronics store like it is a park. Just to kill time, they decide to grill the salesman on the latest 3D TV that has hit the market – they, of course, have no intention of buying it. Moreover, there’s Google and newspapers to help with GK but for these chaps, there’s no joy like pestering a poor soul on a frantic, busy weekend.

An annoying subset of customers are the bargainers, who pursue the act of bargaining like it’s an Olympic sport.

The Freeloader

I knew it was a bad idea to have a Baskin Robbins in a Gujarati area in Mumbai when I first saw a couple try every single flavour at the ice-cream parlour and then just walk away without buying anything. Guilt? That’s not a word in our dictionary. These customers are indecisive; they oscillate between various options, confuse the hell out of everyone, and walk away empty-handed. The trial room is their second home and the server at Nature’s Basket who asks them to sample stuff is their only friend.

The Bargainer

An annoying subset of customers are the bargainers, who pursue the act of bargaining like it’s an Olympic sport. It doesn’t matter if it’s a sabziwala across the street, or a Nike store in a mall, they’re at it everywhere. They don’t care for store rules or the fact that the poor fruit vendor cannot sell half a watermelon to you, these guys will continue arguing and ruin everyone’s day. And after they’ve had their way, they will ask for discount on dhaniya.

Customers need sellers they can annoy, and sellers need customers they can rip off. That is the first rule of the market. And like Bollywood siblings, they will keep annoying each other but can’t live without with each other.