Saturday, October 22, 2011

Chinese Giveaway

Usually when you win something, it's not as if the person giving it to you bought it, it's part of an advertising deal. It's a way to get people in the door and, hopefully, create a repeat customer. Pretty obvious, right? But in China it's as if businesses can't get past the fact - GASP! - we're giving our services away!

James won a RMB500 voucher to a mid-range spa for filling out a survey for a delivery service. Great, we thought, that ought to be about enough for a couple's massage. So this afternoon we headed over. 

We walked into this place that looked like an old timey whorehouse - ruffly curtains, gaudy sofas... We presented our voucher and were given two cups of tea and told to take a seat.

Then the manager comes over.

"So which of you is going to get the facial?" she asks.

"What? We want massages."

"Only one of you can use this voucher and it has to be for the facial, which is 390 kuai. And the rest of the voucher is non-refundable."

"So really when it says RMB500, it should say 390 kuai facial?"

"Well you can get some additional treatments too, maybe like this pedicure service - but no massages."

[Yeah right, like there's anything that's only going to use up RMB110]

"This is bullshit."

Poor girl kind of smiles and nods, it's not like she made the policy.

We wound up walking out [we didn't want facials, you see] and going to a cheapy massage parlor near the house where for RMB130 a lady sat on my thighs and drilled her thumbs into the knots in my lower back. Hurt so good.

We aren't really spa people, so it's not like they lost big business by insisting we get a facial, but obviously I wont recommend it to anyone.

Other annoying China biz-nass: When my mom was here she kept complimenting my clothes and I kept saying, "Thanks, you bought them," until she finally said, "So what do you just not buy any clothes ever?" which made me feel like a cheap bastard. This morning (before spa misadventures) I went to the mall and gave myself permission to go crazy. The world is your oyster, Leslie! You just got a raise!

I wound up walking out with one (one!) pair of black leggings to place my worn out ones because I couldn't find anything else that both I liked and could fit in. The styles are wrong, they're fitted for different body shapes and usually the one thing I find that I like is just a wee bit too small. 

Oh Nordstroms, where are you when I really need you. I'm going to try and do a Marks & Spencer run during lunch this week. We'll see.

Despite all that, and the fact that the particle count was so goddamn high this week that everyone got the sneezes and/or a hacking cough, I'm actually having a delightful Shanghai weekend. This morning we got import groceries delivered (FO' FREE), biked all around Jing'an because it was sunny and the weather was perfect, and we're about to go to a big Sichuan dinner with Jess and her French boyfriend and his bizarre father who doesn't really speak English but delights in affecting a whiney American accent (her description, not mine). Should be entertaining!

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