Someone enlightened me quite early that “Maximum Retail Price” was the highest price at which that product could be sold and the aim should be bring it down from there. But the customer was not the king when I was a kid and the shopkeeper charged the MRP. I am talking of the seventies when availability was limited choices did not exist and Bajaj Cheetak scooter used to have 15 years waiting.
But haggling and bargaining was the order of the day for everything that did not have MRP printed on it. The common man had a sense of victory being able to knock down the asking price. The victory lap would however be short-lived with the neighbours announcement that his second cousin has brought the same stuff for 8 rupees less.
But today the customer is the king and one can easily cut a deal even while buying a refrigerators or a television set. Kolkata they say is the most (in) famous when it comes to this skill, where a street vendor like the phuchkawala (panipoorie seller) is not spared by a well versed Kolkata shopper. He cannot escape without giving that free dry poorie, locally known as churmur at the end of each session.
But his is not about Kolkata, this is us from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. We, the Indians, love to haggle and take immense pride in what we do. We all know a uncle or aunt or a neighbour who has earned the honour of being the best negotiator in this respect.
If you thought this is limited to street vendors and the shopkeepers, my friend, you are grossly mistaken! Leading architectural practices, I have witnessed, bear the brunt of this extraordinary “little extra” phenomena. In the nineties, we were working on design for high rises on Barakhamba road and other places around Lutyens Delhi.
While preparing designs for those multi-storey towers, the firm also had to provide some services as extras. Trust me, I am serious! It was an extension to his farmhouse or an additional floor to her bungalow or something similar.
We used to wonder if the surgeons faced similar situation whereby a patient says “I shall have my heart operated, but you have to operate my knee cap for free!”
But, we are like this only!