Tag Archives: card

Going Live………..

Before we moved to India, I was a small business owner. Yippeee for me. But I totally got away from it because it was just too hard to manage from a distance. But no more!

A Reason To Write is back. The website – complete with shopping cart – went live today.

Enjoy!

Oh, and you can get a discount on all orders until March 31st by entering the discount code “ThankYou” in the shopping cart when checking out. And, Thank YOU!

Pick a card, any card………..

There are so many “different ways of doing business” that you must navigate when you move somewhere new. One of the things that I did not realize I would miss about the United States was the ease of getting phone numbers or addresses or just information in general.

There is no directory assistance here. (Well there might be – but it is a well kept secret.) If you want a phone number, you have to know someone who knows the phone number. It is really crazy. I am yet to see a telephone book (except for the school’s directory – God love them). But what we all do have is a flippin’ stack of business cards. Literally hundreds of them. Everywhere you go, you get a business card. And you are hesitant to get rid of them – because you just might want to call that vendor one day. And when you do want to call a vendor, good luck figuring out which card is who.

And the internet is not always that helpful. Many of us have shared our frustrations of trying to find a business or address on the internet – you can literally get lost for hours in the land of nothingness.

Heck, most stores still calculate the bill by handwriting it and then doing the math manually – then rechecking the math with a calculator. So the fact that they don’t have a web presence really is not surprising.

Just the other day, I asked our cook to order some groceries to be delivered (yes, that is back when I had a cook). I knew that he was rewriting receipts so I did not want him to go himself. But the market delivers and then I pay the bill. Fabulous.

Now, just so you fully understand – this is the same market that we have been shopping at ever since Francis started working for us – 7 months ago. And they have delivered groceries many, many times to our house.

So a whole day goes by and no groceries come.

The next morning, we have this conversation…

Francis: Ma’am, I could not order groceries.
Me: Okay, why?
Francis:  I don’t have the number.
Me: Of the shop we have been ordering groceries from for months?
Francis: Yes Ma’am. But I have the number of his brother’s shop.
Me: Can you call his brother and get the number?
Francis: I tried. No one is answering.
Me: So, you really don’t know the number? That you have been calling for 7 months?
Francis: No Ma’am.
Me:
Really?
Francis: Yes, Ma’am
Me: I’ll get it for you.

So, I went into the pantry where we have about 15 canvas bags (all of which Francis put away) from this market shop. Each bag has the address, phone number, and name of the store printed in l.a.r.g.e. type right on the bag.

Francis: Oh, thank you ma’am. (awkward laughing)
Me: Make sure you get their card.

Buyer Beware…….

You might remember that I had two friends come visit from the United States in February. We had an amazing time and traveled through quite a bit of India. One of the places we visited was Jaipur. One of the things you are “supposed” to do when you visit Jaipur is go jewelry shopping.

So, we went to the historical sites first – then on the the sparkly stuff. We eeeew’d and awwww’d and tried on lots of fabulous jewelry. We joked how marvelous we would look in this piece or that piece. We tried on necklaces that cost more than a car and we laughed.

We also bought some jewelry. Yep, you know exactly where this is going. Downhill fast.

I want to be careful here not to say that we were not completely swindled. We were taken advantage of – no doubt. But to be honest, my friends trusted me to take them to a reputable place and then we all trusted that we weren’t totally being taken. When we handed over our credit cards, we did it willingly and after negotiating much better prices than we were originally quoted. We even got some free gifts – and yes, that should have been our very first of several warning signs.

The jeweler we met was charming and I am sure he saw us coming a kilometer away – we looked just like tourists straight off the elephant ride and I am sure he smelt rupees. He was patient and explained everything to us. He joked with us and, oddly enough, it turns out  he way over charged us. And like I said, we were happy to pay him because we foolishly trusted him.

Our first mistake was listening to me. I trusted someone with a jewelry referral who has done well by me in the past. But I should have gotten several names and we should have absolutely gone to more than one shop. And my friends and I don’t k.n.o.w. jewelry. Sure we know what we like and we know our price (breaking) points – but we didn’t really understand how the two coincided. That is what we call a big fat recipe for disaster.

So we bought jewelry. And a decent amount of it.

In fact, this ring was so fab that I decided to bring it home. I planned to wait on the bracelet and get it for a special occasion – perhaps my funeral when my hubby learned the full details of the story or my friends realized how badly I misdirected them.

I know, it is pretty, huh?

When we returned to Delhi and spread out our sparklees, my friend noticed that the ring she bought for her daughter was slightly off center. So, we called our guy. No problem. He had a friend traveling to Jaipur the next day and we could just give it to him and the jeweler would fix it and, yes, he would make sure we got it back in time for my friend to return to America with it in hand. Just as charming as we remembered. Promises, promises.

We were slightly concerned about giving this total stranger a pretty expensive ring and were having a hard time believing that it would actually end up at the jeweler in Jaipur. But we were armed with the knowledge that we paid with credit cards and had some protection. That turned out to be about the only thing we did right – pay with credit cards.

That same night we went to a party. My friend was standing with her new bracelet on her arm and it simply broke in 3 places. Nope, she didn’t bang it against a wall – and no, a kid on a skateboard didn’t rip it off her arm while scooting by – and no,  monkeys didn’t fly out of the sky and try to steal it – it just simply fell to the ground in 3 places. She had been wearing it for all of two hours.

That was also not a good sign.

So I called the jeweler and explained that we were not happy. No problem. He would gladly fix it. We asked what would happen if my friend wanted to simply return the bracelet – now that we are none too sure about the quality. We were starting to second guess ourselves about 2 days too late. “Oh,” he said, “that would take about 15 days.” When we explained that was not the right answer because my friend was leaving in less than a week, he simply replied, “that is how it works here. Fifteen days. Or I could bring you cash.”

Holy sapphire Batman.

I had never purchased a large item on a credit card in India and I had not returned anything. So, I didn’t know if this guy was pulling a (nother) fast one or if that was just the way it worked.

There is a jeweler that a lot of expats use in Delhi and I suggested we give him a visit. While there, we asked about the value of our remaining items. The Delhi jeweler (who is well known and well trusted) said that some of the pieces we had he would not even buy – no matter how low the price. It turns out they were hollow and not solid gold/silver pieces – that apparently lowers the value s.i.g.n.i.f.i.c.a.n.t.l.y. hmpf.

So, just for giggles, we asked him to tell us what he would have paid, if he had been so foolish to buy them. None of the pieces appraised at even fifty percent of what we paid.

Yep, I know there is a double sided game going on – if we return the jewelry to jeweler A, we might just have some rupees to spend at jeweler B. But the appraisals were so far off from the prices that we paid. We felt sick to our stomachs and really angry. And of course, I felt the worst of all.

We also asked the Delhi jeweler what would happen if we paid by credit card and decided to return something. That part of the story actually checked out. It appears that it takes about 2 weeks in India to get a credit back on a return. Yikes. Yeah that would have been good to know as well.

(Just a side note – This makes jewelry shopping in India pretty fun though – because the jewelers will let you take pieces home and think about them without paying for them yet. They don’t like dealing with the hassle of returns, so they want you to be sure you like it. And even if a few months after purchasing something, you decide it’s not for you, you can just bring it back and exchange it.)

We left the Delhi jeweler after learning lots and trying on more fun stuff – shhh, don’t tell hubby that part. And we called the Jaipur jeweler. I firmly explained that this was no way to do business with Americans and that I would truly understand if the items were valued 20 or even 30 percent less what we paid – after all, prices are somewhat subjective. But, one piece appraised at 10 percent of what my friend paid. I was shaking. I was furious. And I told him so.

He tried to explain that the price of jewelry is in the eye of the beholder and I further explained that the eyes of these beholders were steaming mad. He (wisely) offered to bring cash to Delhi the next day and pick up the jewelry. Excuse me? You will do what? Okay then. So we set up a time and crossed our ever-loving, ring-encrusted fingers. We laughed that if he offered to reduce the price, we might just keep the jewelry. We did love it after all.

Hubby – ever the pessimist – could not believe that this guy was really going to show up. Now it’s a funny story – but then – hubby was none too amused. My friends had the luxury of having their husbands in the U.S . – 8,000 miles away – and not knowing all the details. Me, I had Mr. Pessimist in all his glory. Not that he didn’t have reason to be doubtful. It didn’t sound or look good.

But half an hour early – God Bless him – that jeweler pulled up in front of the house. He had American $100 bills and he returned our money and took the jewelry back with him. He did not even offer to reduce the prices. I think it was fair to say that he was as done with us as we were with him. It was a pleasant enough exchange that ended with us both agreeing that we simply weren’t meant to do business together.

After he walked out the door and we all started breathing again, my friend looked up and said, “any chance these are counterfeit”?

“Only one way to find out,” I said and we marched ourselves right back to the jeweler in Delhi and bought some replacement pieces.

I guess it really is hard to teach an old mom new tricks. 😉

What would Dr. Seuss Do……….

I know times are tight and everyone is suffering, but my local library took it a little too far yesterday. I get it that checking books out at the library saves money – it is a wonderful convenience. So I try to do it. But I don’t always follow up with “part b” of that idea – the part of returning the books on time so you don’t have to pay fines – thus guaranteeing the saving money part of the deal.

In my attempt to be a productive member of society, I went to the library to pay any fines we owe. I thought this was pretty good – we are moving out of the country – I didn’t really have to do this – the library police aren’t really going to track me down in Delhi and make me read more books.

I get up to the counter – tell the librarian why I am there – apologize for not having my library card – ask if she would mind looking up our account numbers.

Librarian: Oh, you don’t have your card?
Me: No – I am sorry – we are moving – it’s been crazy – I don’t have the right purse – Is there a way you can look it up? Please. Pretty please with library fines on top.
Librarian: We charge for that service now
Me: Service? What service?
Librarian: Looking up your card number
Me: Isn’t it on the computer – the one right in front of you – the one you will be using to look up my fine anyway?
Librarian: Yes
Me: Ok then – how much is it?
Librarian: It is a dollar per account number
Me: Gasping for air – a dollar? I have 4 card numbers to look up – I just want to clear my account – I might not even have $4 in fines (yes, that was wishful thinking)
Librarian: Wait, are you just paying fines?
Me: (with no books in my hand) Yes – we are moving – don’t really need to check out anything – unless of course you have a reciprocity agreement with the Public Library of New Delhi – now that you mention it, I do need something good for the plane
Librarian – completely unamused
Me – that would be “yes”, I am just paying a fine, but I will need you to look up the fines on that computer – if I can’t even remember my library card, I certainly do not know how much my fines are
Librarian – in that case we won’t charge you
Me – Wow
Librarian: over-extending herself to enter my phone number – yes, all ten digits – to find my account numbers.

She had to do it 4 whole times and it took her about 2 and a half minutes to look up my numbers, calculate my fines, collect my money, and give me change. In fact, it took her longer to tell me about the charges than it did to collect the overdue fines. I can totally (not) see why they are charging for that service now. If I had books to check out and they mentioned charging me to simply look up my account number, I probably would have actually left the books at the counter. Seriously, enough is enough. That would certainly cause more work for the librarian than just entering those 10 digits into the computer.

So, I paid the $20 in fines (still cheaper than the book store) and I cleared my conscience of late fees and overdue books. Yes, I believe Dr. Seuss would be proud – very proud.

I know this is not cause for a riot – maybe it’s not even worthy of a blog post – but it really irritates me that the library would charge me for something they have to do anyway. Is it really that much more daunting to have to enter a phone number than to swipe a card? Really, is it? Isn’t this why computers were invented? To make life easier? Let’s use technology to our advantage. Seriously.

Blah Blah Blah………………

P.S. I don’t personally hold the librarian responsible for the decision to charge the fines – I know someone above her made that decision – don’t worry – no librarians were hurt or yelled at in the writing of this post.

Pimp My Font……..

As you might recall, in a previous life I had a handmade stationery business. So, it makes perfect sense that I am always on the prowl for the perfect font. And handwriting fonts are my favorite fontalicious variety of font.

Holy font, batman – if you love fonts, I have great news for you.

There’s a young lady named Amanda and she likes to make fonts out of handwriting samples. No, dear font freak, I am not kidding. And she gives them away for, say it with me, FREE. Seriously. And, yes, I love her! And her fonts are fontfabulous. She has an entire line of “pea” fonts. If you don’t know what I mean, check her and her delicious fonts out at Kevin and Amanda’s Free fonts.

You can thank me later.

It’s in the cards………

When I was in college, I went to a fortune teller. Okay, it was in a bar and I was not exactly “un”intoxicated. Not so much a good mix. Lesson learned – go to fortune teller completely sober. And maybe pick one that isn’t seated in the back of a bar. In the dark corner.

She told me that someone I cared about with dark hair who was involved in finance was going to die. What? That simply can not be.

My dad is an accountant – my then fiance (now number one hubby) was an accounting major – they both have dark hair. I had had a little bit a lot too much to drink and I momentarily forgot that everyone is going to die – at some point. So, I will take this opportunity to apologize to my friends who were with me that night. I cried for the remainder of the night. Yeah, I am sure that was a lot of fun.

Note to number one hubby – if you ever think I don’t care about you – please remember that I cried all night when I heard that you were going to die – at some point. 😎

Many years later, when my husband won a trip to Jamaica, I went to another fortune teller. She was a little more accurate. She told me that she knew I had had a miscarriage. She told me about someone in my life – she couldn’t pull out the name – maybe it was Georgia – yeah, my mom lives in Georgia.

I had not had too much anything to drink. I do realize that she spoke mostly in generalizations – but some things were dead on.

So, now I am intrigued by all this mystical stuff. I don’t really want predictions – they might drive me mad – but I am curious about the now and when. So, when I went to a craft show a few days ago and there was a tarot card reader there – I sat down. Five hundred rupees, please. You got it.

She also spoke somewhat in generalizations – but some of it was surprising.

She said that I am still mourning a loss and cannot completely focus on what I have gained. She said my glass is half empty (rather than half-full). This surprised me. I am normally a glass half-full person. Actually I am more of a “who cares” whether it’s full or empty – it is what it is – I am lucky there is a glass. But coming to India was a sudden change and not one I was looking for. I think I am doing a pretty good job of embracing this adventure – and on many, many levels, enjoying it. But, dang it, I miss home. I have not put both feet down yet.

She went on to say that there is a big opportunity waiting for me but I need to be more open to it. And that I need to not be so introspective. That way I will be able to see it when it comes. She even went so far as to say that I will get published and it will be big. So, remember, you knew me when. She also said there is a big celebration in my near future. A wedding or a new house – it’s probably not going to be one of those – but bring on the celebration.

Mrs. Tarot also said that I need to be careful about the money side of things in this new adventure. Okay. I can do that. If there is money involved, I can pay attention to it.

Apparently great things are in store for me. Isn’t that exciting? 😎