DH 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.
‘Ooh! Look at these!’ I’ll exclaim rapturously, ‘They’re gorgeous, and only Dhs20! 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 Russian woman next to me with a steely glint in her eye, can get her fat hands on the last couple of size 40s.
The sad thing is, that even though I know he’s right (most of the time), 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 in the process 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 – especially when Fashionista Mum ooh’s and aa’s over them at drop-off time.
So, as you can imagine, the latest 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 DH doesn’t yet know about…
Let’s face it. This is the internet’s version of outlet mall shopping, only better. Because if you want an even bigger discount than the one that’s offered, you simply forward the ad on to people who you think will be grateful for it. Genius! Why I even know which of my friends are having a slow day at work according to the number of ‘superb deal’ referrals that appear in my inbox.
Not too long ago, my dear sis (who’s a net-bargain addict and ‘recommends’ on a regular basis) sent me a deal for 50 percent off a Maths Whizz package, because she knows Oldest son is as numerically challenged as his old lady. And, my young, stylish, single girlfriend (who is currently spending the summer in Ibiza) recently sent me details of a bargainous Clubber’s Detox Programme going for next to nothing at the Six Senses Spa, God love her!
But then a couple of incidents happened that made me realize 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 cuppa. When she appeared and the door, I saw something was seriously wrong.
‘Why do you keep glowering at me?’ I enquired, as we sipped our tea and listened as DH tried to wrestle the children into bed.
‘Aha! You noticed!’ she cried. ‘I knew he’d f*@ked it up! This was the test’ and with that, she punched a number into her mobile, and began to rant unmercifully at some poor wretch on the other end.
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 looked like a cross between Herman Munster and the Tefal man….
‘He knew I’d got the deal cheaply – and he did the whole flipping thing in 15 minutes flat, without even marking my forehead with a pen,’ she wailed. ‘My usual chap takes 45 minutes – and I’ve never come out looking like this! But the worst thing is that it won’t get better for three whole months!’ 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 Dhs700 she’d ‘saved’ and more, following a 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 then decide how to change them. And that cost me flippin Dhs600!’
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 Dhs3 beef shawarma and then being upset that it wasn’t wagyu. But she was awfully cross, so I kept schtum. And later on, I was glad that I had, because that wasn’t the end of it.
Just a few days later, sis called to tell me she’d booked a load of boot camp classes with a 75 percent 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. Not such a bargain after all then, eh?’
I related these horrors to DH, 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 Dhs50 on E-Bay, 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!’
I digested this slowly, and eventually decided that my days of internet bargaining were over. After all, where was the thrill in buying something that had taken absolutely no effort to find, and didn’t even require a competitive tussle with a thick-set Ukrainian woman? It was time to update the spam filter.
But thankfully for me, Dubai’s bargains don’t begin and end with a few tenacious websites, as DH – and my extensive collection of cut-price shoes will certainly testify. And as far as I’m concerned, good things may not be cheap – but nothing beats getting your hands on a cheap thing that looks good!
Now, as I have a personally enforced ban on certain site surfing, you’ll have to excuse me. Because there’s a DSS sale on at Lulu Hypermarket – and Mrs Molotov waits for no woman…