What a deal

This article appears in the See for Yourself feature series. View the full series.
A dress shop in Tianzifang, a shopping area in Shanghai (Nancy Linenkugel)

Sister Nancy recently traveled to several cities in China. Today's blog relates part of her experiences.

Our China time was replete with things to see in several cities, but we still had time for a quick visit to souvenir shops. There are sales clerks assigned to each store section so that once you appear interested in an item, the clerk steps forward to assist you with the purchase.

The clerk takes the objects you want to purchase to the cashier, and you follow. Once you pay for the items, you receive two receipts. One is for you, and the other is to exit the store with your purchase.

At one store, after my purchase, the "clearing house clerk" told me I received a free gift and took me to another clerk stationed near the jewelry counter. My free gift was a small scarf.

My companion received a lottery-type scratch-off card at the jewelry counter and was encouraged to reveal the surprise. So she did the scratch-off only to reveal that she won a discount of 900 yuan, which is the equivalent of about $130, applicable to anything in the jewelry case.

The clerks seemed ecstatic and said this was the highest amount anyone had received all day. So we looked at the items in the jewelry case.

Realizing that her mom had a birthday coming up, she selected an opaque white stone on a necklace rather than green jade because the white stone could be worn with any color of clothing. The necklace also came with a certificate of authenticity for the quality of the stone.

Final cost with the discount: 380 yuan, or $55. Surely her mother is worth that. So she made the purchase.

Once we were walking on the street, she said, "Do you think I got ripped off?"

I said, "How should I know? The price was right, and you got the paperwork to boot. Your mom will love the gift. Besides, you got it for 30 percent off the case price. That should make you feel good."

She said, "You're right, and I do like the piece. I might just keep it for myself; I can always get my mom a waving cat."

[Nancy Linenkugel is a Sylvania Franciscan sister and chair of the department of Health Services Administration at Xavier University, Cincinnati.]