Cheap doesn't mean you have a bargain!

I give you good price!

For the past couple of days I've been getting headaches and migraines. I know that my fringe has grown too long as any time my hair is anywhere near my eyes I get headaches. As I live in the wop wops outside Nanjing, to go to a decentish hairdresser for a trim, I have to spend $7 on taxi fare going into town and another $7 to come back. The hairdresser will charge anything between $10-$20 to trim your hair. Granted, they usually give a great scalp massage and sometimes shoulder massage as well. However, after having spent all day in the cold wind keeping the time in lane 4 at school sports day, I was not inclined to venture into town. This left me with two choices - continue to suffer with my headaches or go to the cheap and nasty local hairdresser next to the corner supermarket. To save time, and just to get rid of the bothersome hair, I chose the cheaper alternative as I am currently on a belt-tightening not spending money mission.

The hairdressing salon was empty. About 8 staff members were lounging about inside the salon. Some were playing cards, some were noisily slurping up noodles and some were just lounging, doing nothing at all staring blankly at the peeling paint on the wall. I should have walked straight out. There has to be a reason why in a subdivision full of university students, nobody was frequenting the hairdressing salon. I just wanted to get shot of the heavy fringe and get home to watch American Idol, so I entered the salon. Suddenly, all eight people in the salon stopped what they were doing, removed their blank looks and gave me a welcoming smile. With relief I allowed myself to be led to a grubby grey torn recliner chair to get my hair washed. No scalp massage, no offer of a conditioner, just a basic workmanlike performance by a young dude with an anime character hairdo that must have used a bucket full of hair gel to keep the spikes in place.

I was given a choice.  An unexperienced hairdresser for $1.50 or an experienced hairdresser for $2.  I elected to undo my belt a couple of notches and go for the more expensive option.  I do have to look presentable otherwise my students will laugh at me and not take my lessons seriously.  A very short stocky man with an elaborate hairdo straight out of the eighties New Romantic era, that would have made Adam Ant cream his rods, approached me with a silver pair of scissors.  At least he had the right equipment.  As I couldn't speak Chinese and nobody in the salon could speak English, I gestured and grunted to show what needed to be done to my hair.  Snippety snip and Adam Ant's scissors flew.  Locks of my hair flew to the ground.  When it was all over and I dared to open my eyes, I saw that I bore an uncanny resemblance to one of the Beatles.  However, at least my hair was out of my eyes, so it wasn't all bad.  And if I brushed my fringe back it might not look like someone had put a pot on my head and cut around it.  But this got me thinking.  In China and other places where they say "I give you good price," you often get what you pay for.

Fake markets and fake products

Cheap does not mean that you get a bargain.  In China, you are constantly presented with fake items.  Some are real with slight defects or fell off the back of a truck, but most are fake.  Sometimes, it's difficult to tell the difference between what is real and what is fake.  Everywhere you go, there are hawkers on street corners, or fake markets selling fake products.  You can buy Prada or Gucci sunglasses for $3, a Coach handbag for $7, dvds not yet on the big screen for under a dollar, Chanel perfume for $7 and many other items which cost a fortune in the west.

Shopping in Shanghai's fake market under the Science and Technology Museum needs at least a whole day as you amble through store after store stocked with fake products, which the vendors always assure you, are real.  Bargaining is essential.  Westerners are regarded as walking ATM machines and they'll always start high with the prices.  You have your eye on a pair of Ugg Boots, they'll start off with $100.  Your reaction?  I always find it best to laugh hysterically, and they'll quickly drop the price.  Start walking away and they'll follow you with the calculator and ask you for your 'best price.'  Set an impossibly low price and stick to it.  Chances are, if you are adamant that you're not paying a cent more than your lowest price, you'll get it at that.

I have to say, the Timberland boots and Ugg Boots we bought and only paid $20 have proved to be excellent buys.  The quality was good and they've lasted.  However, the ipod nanos we bought for $10 didn't fare as well.  One worked for a week, one for a day and another wouldn't let us load music on it so it didn't work at all.  Now I have an I-phone which only cost $100 at the fake market.  So far, everything seems to work.  Is it real or fake?  It's hard to tell.  Sometimes what you think you got as a bargain, you'll find much cheaper in another fake store, or, it will break within a week.

Some of the clothing shrinks in the wash.  The leather bag you bought, the 'leather' starts to peel away and you're left with ugly plastic blotches.  In three years here I've bought 4 dvd players.  All of them only costing about $20 each.  The first lasted 6 months, the second lasted a year, the third lasted 1 month, and the best of all, the one in my son's bedroom and the one that has probably had the most use, has lasted the full three years.  It's just a matter of luck.  However, I am always a little dubious when I am in the West and see things with the label, Made In China.  mind you, the stuff they export from here is much better than the fake crap they sell locally.

Cheaper doesn't always mean you get a bargain, as you run the risk of it being poor quality and breaking very quickly, like my ipods and dvd players.  However, my son's fake Vans have lasted 2 years and had some hard use, as has his fake Converse.  The fake markets in Shanghai and other major cities in China do offer great shopping.  You can end up spending a lot of money as everything is so unbelievably cheap.  But, do be aware, that at least 50% of what you buy won't work properly or won't last long.  Or you might end up getting a haircut that makes you look like a Beatle!

More by this Author


Comments 37 comments

Candie V profile image

Candie V 7 years ago from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure!

It would be fun just to walk around and see everything. I don't haggle well so I'd have to be with someone who does. I'd think you're going to miss a lot of this, you've written about it so well.


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Yeah Candie, think I might surprise myself and miss it all. I am an ace haggler, I can bargain them down to nothing!


lxxy profile image

lxxy 7 years ago from Beneath, Between, Beyond

This is well done, yet again!

From my point of view, I might spread the pictures out better, utilize them to help tell your story, not just as a second part of the story.

But..that's just me. Either way, done well.

In Lightspeed,

lxxy


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Thanks Ixxy, did this one while my class were writing Cinquains! I am bad!


Patty Hahne profile image

Patty Hahne 7 years ago from Oregon

Very well said. Many times you save money in the long run by spending a bit more.


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Exactly Patty, think with electronics, I've learnt to stick to name brands I know that are real lol


LAmatadora 7 years ago

WOW...I have been doing my own hair for years. In fact I just did my hair today. And when it comes to the guy haircuts I am a bad ass with the clippers....I can make one mean fade. That has saved me countless amounts of moolah over the years. I cannot even imagine having to pay for it now...

And the bootleg designer stuff.. You just got to be careful with what you get. You are right some are junk and some last years. Kinda sounds like Santee Alley in Downtown Los Angeles. One of my favorite places to go shopping!! LOL

GOOD HUB!!


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Hey JJ, bet downtown LA is still more expensive than the fake markets over here!


LAmatadora 7 years ago

Oh I am sure they are...I would love to buy a handbag for $7

Over here its like $30


goldentoad profile image

goldentoad 7 years ago from Free and running....

Come to downtown LA, we have the same vendors as you got in China, same prices too.

Too funny, we answered at the same time, there is no secret to downtown LA!


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Okay Toad, might amble your way some day, but can you change that avatar, it's creeping me out!


LAmatadora 7 years ago

I have been telling him that all day on here!!!


goldentoad profile image

goldentoad 7 years ago from Free and running....

I will consider it. But I'd like to scare some newbies first, I haven't done that today. It will have to wait for tomorrow!


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Yes JJ, think I'll have nightmares tonight now!


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Don't scare them away, Toady!


Candie V profile image

Candie V 7 years ago from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure!

I was gonna ask him if he was sneaking in a real picture of himself, but I was too afraid


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Nah Candie, he's the stuff of nightmares


maggs224 profile image

maggs224 7 years ago from Sunny Spain

I loved this page, your haircut experience reminded me of when my husband went to the barber in the nearby campong when we were living in Jahore Baru. Besides the hair cut that he asked for he also got a head massage a dry shave (where the barber just held the razor blade in his fingers) and his nose hairs cut. The barber looked in his ears but at twenty two my husband didn't have any hair in ears to cut. Thanks for stimulating my memory maybe there is a hub there.


blondepoet profile image

blondepoet 7 years ago from australia

Oh Cindy you are published too I never realised you had already done it. I am so thrilled for you and it looks amazing, when I finalise all my book costs you can be sure I will be grabbing a copy wooooooo hoooo. I raise a glass to this, congratulations...


C. C. Riter 7 years ago

I must not leave without a fond farewell to my good cindy who made me laugh. good luck now with everything


dianacharles profile image

dianacharles 7 years ago from India

I have seen some forwards with some pretty gruesome pictures of stuff made with recycled material- maybe China made and how it has caused all sorts of health problems...I think that would be one of the downsides of buying things off street vendors. I know we have that problem in INDIA. You are right, cheap does not mean you have a bargain.


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Maggs, that sounds like it would make a great hub!

Blonde, yeah have published two books already, a self-help one and a novel.

CC, why the goodbye, where the hell are you going?

Dianacharles, the Chinese do take lots of chances with some of their products. By the way, Anjuna market on a Wednesday has got to be the best shopping experience of my life! Have you ever been there?


Hawkesdream profile image

Hawkesdream 7 years ago from Cornwall

He said goodbye to me too Cindy, wouldn't tell me.

Loved this, better to pay a little more sometimes methinks.


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

hey Hawkes, think I might email him, I worry so about his health. Isn't this place amazing. Here I am in China, talking to someone in the UK about someone in the States and we've never even met each other!


Hawkesdream profile image

Hawkesdream 7 years ago from Cornwall

just e mailed you..did you get it?


blondepoet profile image

blondepoet 7 years ago from australia

I can't believe C.C is gone I am in shock. What the hell.....


frogdropping profile image

frogdropping 7 years ago

Cindy - Brill. Ohhhhhh yes - funny, smiley and well written :)

Another thumbs up!


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Hawkes and BP, have got yer emails and also emailed CC.

Froggy, thanks for the comments, now you can buy my book lol


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 7 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

So do we get to see the haircut?


blondepoet profile image

blondepoet 7 years ago from australia

Cindy check Lulu review hope I did well that book was amazing. I haven't started the second yet that is one I will read in peace and quiet, by the light of the moon.


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Frieda, noooo, you can't see my haircut! Nobody will ever take me seriously again when they see me looking like an aging Beatle!

Blonde, thanks so much, glad you enjoyed the book and will check out the review!


Apostille 7 years ago

Nice article on this from you.


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Thanks Apostille


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London

fantastic hub - hope the fringe looks OK now?


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

lol LG, when I brush it all back you can't notice my pudding bowl cut, but I reckon in two weeks it'll look okay!


fortunerep profile image

fortunerep 7 years ago from North Carolina

I would love to visit Shanghai! I was in DC last month for my job carries me there throughout the school year. I went walking, a long walk on a street off of Pennsylvania Ave. I come across alot of vendors. I bought 6 prada pocketbooks for 200.00. I don't know if they are real but it made my daughers happy. I put them in a Macy's bag!! I am soooo bad. To this day they don't know where I got them or did anyone esle until now! lol

dori


cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 7 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine Author

Yeah Dori, often you can't tell the difference, especially with the sunglasses and the bags and the name brand shoes.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working