My husband has a saying that he trots out with alarming regularity, particularly when I’m on a bit of bender in the Hyper Panda shoe isle.
Ohh! Look at these!’ I’ll exclaim rapturously. ‘They’re gorgeous, and only AED20! I must have a pair - in every single colour!’
He’ll reply, ‘Good things no cheap and cheap things no good…’ as I chuck them into the trolley before the woman next to me with a steely glint in her eye, can get her hands on the last couple of size 40s.
The sad thing is, that even though I know he’s right, it’s tough to resist a bargain. Because despite knowing your new sequined Kurt Geiger knock-offs will only last for two wears, give you horrendous blisters and smell so bad afterwards that even the dog won’t chew them, you can’t help feeling a little bit smug about your latest acquisition.
So, as you can imagine, the online bargain-hunter discount websites were a rather thrilling discovery for me, and before I knew it, I was a fully paid up member of Groupon, Dealgobbler, Yallabanana, Gonabit, Bagabargain, Getitcheaply, Goonyouknowyouwantit, hubbyscreditcardcantakeit, and a couple of others my husband doesn’t yet know about…
Not all that glitters…
But then a couple of incidents happened which made me realise all is not what it seems in the smiley world of Discountland.com. The first was when a close girlfriend rang and asked if she could come over immediately for a cup of tea. When she appeared and the door, I saw something was seriously wrong.
‘Why do you keep glowering at me?’ I enquired.
‘Aha! You noticed!’ she cried in anguish. ‘I knew he’d messed it up!
Turns out she’d forgone her usual botox guy in favour of a cut price deal she’d picked up online. And he’d botched up good and proper. Her eyebrows had both dropped alarmingly and she now bore an uncanny resemblance to Herman Munster.
‘He knew I’d got the deal cheaply. He did the whole thing in 15 minutes without even marking my forehead with a pen. My usual chap takes 45 minutes – and I’ve never come out looking like this!’
Oh dear. I advised her to cut her losses, and her hair, as a strategic fringe would cover the damage. In the end, living with the ‘budget botox’ cost her AED700 she’d ‘saved’ and more, following an expensive trip to Toni & Guy….
Then another friend complained about a life coach deal she’d bought (three sessions at half the usual price). ‘He was rubbish!’ she exclaimed. ‘He just twittered on about how I should write a list of the positive and negative aspects in my life, and decide how to change them. That cost me AED600!’
In defense of ‘net bargains’ I was tempted to say that going for a cheap life coach and wondering why you were disappointed, was a bit like buying a AED3 beef shawarma and then being upset that it wasn’t wagyu...
Just a few days later, my sister called to tell me she’d booked a load of boot camp classes with a 75% discount, to discover that the only time she could go was 7am on a Friday morning. Why? Because that was the class nobody wanted to attend. Hmmm. Not such a bargain after all then, eh?’
I related these horrors to my husband, and then had to wait while he stopped laughing and singing The Munsters theme tune. ‘Well,’ he said eventually, wiping his eyes. ‘What on earth did you expect? A bargain is something rare that you discover through sheer good luck. It’s a two-year-old car selling for AED50 on Ebay or a painting in a charity shop that turns out to be an original Picasso. It is not something that arrives in your email box and solicits your credit card details. That’s called a sales pitch for a lemon.’
‘And furthermore,’ he added for good measure, ‘good things no cheap – and cheap things no good!’
As much as I hate to admit it ladies, he’s absolutely right…
Have you over-indulged in online sales and ended up with more than you bargained for?
This article first appeared on Houswifeindubai.com. Read more here.