Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Penny Wise Pound Foolish

I didn't plan on going anywhere this school holiday as I will be busy packing and moving to our new house.  But my husband felt guilty for not taking the kids anywhere, so he suggested on going to Legoland because it's just a 5-hour drive from KL.

While the kids had lots of fun at Legoland, my husband enjoyed his shopping at the Johor Premium Factory Outlet tremendously.  For those of you who don't really know me, let me tell you a bit about my view on shopping.  My idea of shopping is grocery and houseware shopping.  I can spend hours in groceries or any shops selling plates, glasses and other cooking gadgets but I can't stand more than 30 minutes in stores that sell clothes, shoes, fabrics or handbags.

I buy clothes, handbags or shoes based on necessity not based on the latest fashion or because I don't have one to match my new hair colour.  Besides, my hair has only 2 colours : super dark brown or light brown (after perming or spending too much time under the sun).  So basically I don't need much..

My husband is the opposite.  He LOVES shopping... especially shoes, suits and anything related to golf.  Since I try to be a "good wife" everytime he asks me to accompany him for shopping, I always oblige.  But this time I was in for a real trouble... The Premium Outlet that we visited has more than 40 stores selling discounted branded shoes, handbags, sport items, suits and NOTHING on household items..!

He was sooooo happy.  He went in to almost every shops..! I tagged along for the first 1 hour but after that I just couldn't stand it anymore.  So... I headed to the foodcourt to do my real "shopping". 

This is where my shopping was done... :)
Luckily the foodcourt has variety of stalls.  While waiting for him, I tried the Chinese stall selling steamed dishes.  I was so happy to find my old-time favourite dish turned halal.  I used to love this Minced Pork Steamed with Salted Fish and Preserved Kale.  It's been 15 years since the last time I had that.. So when I saw the shop selling the same stuff with chicken substitute, I was estatic..!!  This stall really sells halal traditional Chinese food...! Next one I tried was : Stewed Pickled Duck.  Yuuuummmmyyyy...!! 

We spent about 6 hours at the FO so it just didn't make sense if I only spend 1 hour of "shopping".  I hopped to a Korean stall for Dolsat Bim Bim Bab and Kimchi.  Nice and spicy... The shopping went on and on until I tried at least 6 different dishes, not including the stop at the cozy Dragon Cafe for some Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese, Deep Fried Mushroom and Coffee..!

Very yummy crunchy Fried Oyster Mushroom

Sitting down at the foodcourt and cafes while waiting for my husband, I couldn't help looking around observing people.  I was fascinated to see how long the line was at the Coach outlet.  I think the discount must be good because people were willing to wait in line under the hot sun.  As for me, I would prefer the comfy of my air-cond foodcourt anytime.

One very interesting (if not annoying) thing that I noticed was the parking lot.  The open-air parking lot was occupied by less than 20%.  I wondered how those people came to the FO because there was no public transport in the area.  The FO is smacked in the middle of nowhere. 

When I left the FO, I saw cars parked by the road side... That's why the parking lot was empty...!!! Those people refused to pay RM3 for parking and parked their cars outside.  OMG... these people were in PREMIUM Factory Outlet that sell nothing less than branded stuffs and they refused to spend RM3..???? I even saw a few BMW and Mercedes Benz there...!

This thing reminded me of an acquaintance of mine.  He drove a posh BMW M3 series, wore branded stuff from head to toe but when we ate out with a bunch of friends, he just ordered "warm water" and nothing else.  He said he could have his meal at home, no need to "waste" money on over-priced restaurant food.  I remember one day we went to an American restaurant and we all ordered the famous hamburgers.  The burgers were huge so ladies couldn't finish the french fries that served along the burgers. After we finished our meals, he ask for a plastic container from the waiter.  He collected all the french fries from everyone's plates, put them inside the container and proudly told us that it's gonna be his supper. That guy remains my acquaintance... I can't even upgrade him to "my friend" because I really can't understand him.

I also know one rich lady who always takes sachets of chilli sauce, tomato sauce and sugar whenever she dines out.  She would take as many sachets as possible for her personal usage at home.  If she can afford to have a few mansions and houses overseas, how on earth can't she afford to buy a bottle of tomato ketchup and a gallon of chilli sauce? 

I call these kind of people as Rich People with Poor Heart.  As much as they irritate and embarrass me, actually I pity them because most of them don't realize that what they do are not normal. They don't feel they are rich.  They are afraid that their money will not be enough for their future.  And worse, they don't know that people are talking about their peculiar habits behind their backs.

My husband has other theory though : "They become rich because they are stingy.. People like us who always spend and give will never get rich."

I totally disagree with him.  I feel very rich although my bank account is nothing close to theirs and my house is the same size with their bathrooms.  Sometimes when I went out with them, I offered to pay for their meals (which of course they never refused).  When I paid for them, I trully felt that I was richer than them.... I could really feel all the blessings I have.... It made me feel like a billionaire... (..... the song Billionaire by Bruno Mars is ringing in my ears now)

OK... Now... End of the Factory Outlet story:
  • My husband came back with bags of suits, trousers and belts. 
  • I came back with an extra 2 kg of fat and an idea for my blog...!!
How is that for a shopping day?

Friday, 2 November 2012

Smooth Operator

When I used to work full time, I relied heavily on delivery services. Any working mother would understand how difficult it is to take care of 2 toddlers while working full time crunching numbers behind computers. I am guilty of taking an easy way of feeding my kids for fast food lunches.

Hotline delivery numbers of Mc Donald’s, Ayamas, Domino’s Pizza and Roast Kitchen were stored as important numbers in my handphone. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t feed them fast food everyday. My maid usually cooked for them but there were days when she didn’t have anything in the fridge and I didn’t have time to do grocery shopping because I had to work until late at night.

I just love delivery service.  It saves my time and makes my kids happy.  I love those automated call centers that can detect my phone numbers right away so I don't need to tell them my phone numbers and full address anymore.

As much as I love those delivery services, sometimes calling a call center can be a real pain especially when the operator (or they call it consultant nowadays) can't really speak proper English or Bahasa, mumbles thru the whole conversation and has bad hearing problems.

I recall my experience last week that made me fuming mad.

I called Mc Donald's delivery service of 1-300-131-300 at 10.30 am to order breakfast for my kids and I. Usually it took me a brief 5 minutes to order the regular Sausage Mc Muffins. Last week it took me more than 20 minutes...!! I could have just driven to the nearest Mc Donald's and come back. Unfortunately my car was in service thus leaving me stranded at home.

When I called that hot line, instead of the regular familiar human voice, it was replaced with answering machine. Then the normal "phone banking tone" followed :

Press 1 for Bahasa Malaysia and press 2 for English. I pressed 2.

After I pressed no 2, I prepared myself to speak to a human. To my surprise, I heard another recorded voice saying :
For delivery status press 1, to place an order press 2.

I pressed 2 again.

Then this machine 'talked' to me : Please call 03.3029402 (i can't remember the numbers) to place an order.

I rushed like a mad woman trying to get a pen to write down the number. Just when I finally found a pen, the machine said : You have entered invalid number. Thank you for calling Mc Donald's. Good Bye. AAAraaarrrgghhh.. (.....take a deep breath, calm your mind, imagine the good times and smile..... the voice from my Yoga instructor ringing in my ears)

So.... with a pen and a piece of paper, I repeated the whole process, calling 1-300-131-300 again..... not to order, but just to get the numbers.

Finally I got the numbers written down. Then I called the new phone number.

I was greeted by the machine "Welcome to Mc Donald's" with the jinggle.. and listening to the whole promotion of bla bla bla... I waited for a good 3 minutes until a lady picked up the line and talked to me.

After all the wishy wooshy good morning, welcome greeting, etc. finally I told her that I wanted to place an order. To my horror... she said," I am sorry mam, if you want to place an order, please call 1-300-131-300."

I was fuming mad... I told her that I did call that number but the machine "TOLD" me that I had to call this number. (Isn't it crazy that now a machine "tells" a human what to do instead of a human commands a machine? And I am even a crazier woman to obey that machine). She insisted that she couldn't take my order and I had to call the number again. I told her all the ordeals I had to go thru previously. She said," Yes, I understand but you should ignore the message when it says calling this number. You should press no 2 again instead."

How on earth should I know that..??? I wanted to scream at her but I knew that it's not her fault. She didn't implement the system and I was sure I was not the only one who got irritated. I told her to tell the manager that the call center system is really bad now. She acknowledged that. She told me that they changed the management and the new management changed the whole call center system.

I almost gave up but I tried my best to keep my cool... The words from my motivational speaker talked to me : "When you give up, actually you are very very close to success." At that time success meant having the Sausages Mc Muffins infront of me..!!

So I followed the instructions given. Called the 1-300-131-300 again.... press 2 again, then 2 again, then 2 again. Finally it worked...!!

I ordered the breakfast sets. Yipeeeee....

When the operator asked me if there was anything else she could help me, I told her to tell the manager how bad the new system was. I told her my 20 minutes experience of calling the hotline. She apologized and again said that they just had a change in management who changed the whole system of call center. I told her to tell the manager to try placing an order thru 1-300-131-300 himself to feel how the customers feel.

I pity the operators. I am sure not everyone is as "cool" as me ... ;). From their calm tones, I am sure they get screamed and scolded at very often because of this. It seemed like they had expected me to scream at them...!

This is the classic case of the front-line employees got the slaps because of the upper management's decision.

I hope the management gets my message and revert to the old user-friendly system. Sometimes I still believe in the saying : If it ain't broken, don't fix it.

That morning, somehow the Sausage McMuffin didn't taste as nice... The whole experience made me lost the appetite for it. At that time suddenly I craved for some Steamy Hot Nasi Kukus Ilham with tongue-numbing Sambal Belacan and spicy Kuah Kari.