Travel Comment
Ponderings on all aspects of travel - both at home and abroad.

Jim Eagles: If you hassle me, I'm not buying


Jim Eagles says he's more likely to buy something if he's not harrassed.

A street market in Cairo, Egypt. Photo / 123RF
A street market in Cairo, Egypt. Photo / 123RF

It always amazes me how many traders or shopkeepers in foreign lands seem to think the best way to persuade tourists to buy their goods is to irritate them.

The worst example of this I've experienced was in Egypt. We were driven mad by the hawkers constantly shouting in our faces and grabbing our arms - and sometimes other parts of the body - any time we ventured into the streets.

In the shops you only had to pause for a nanosecond in front of some object for it to be thrust into your hands or, as in the case of a necklace I glanced at, draped around your neck.

In fact, of course, the effect was the opposite to that intended. My wife hated it so much she refused to buy anything, even though she loves getting presents.

Fortunately we were saved by a shop which promised "no hassle" shopping, a pledge they obviously took seriously.

At one point I paused to look at a statue and one of the assistants said, "That is the god Thoth, he is . . ." It was a bit unexpected so I jumped slightly and he almost ran away from me saying, "No, no, sorry, no bother, no hassle."

We bought just about all our Egyptian gifts in that place. Back outside, the grasping hordes continued hassling us fruitlessly instead of pondering the reason for the hassle-free shop's success.

I was reminded of this on a recent trip to North Queensland when we called in at Shannonvale Tropical Fruit Winery where, as long as you promised to buy at least one bottle, you could do a tasting of all 14 of their wines.

We were enjoying the wines, which were very good, and wondering how many we could sensibly take home, when the owner decided to regale us with his views on Kiwis. They didn't have a very good reputation, he said, because of their tight-fistedness.

In nearby Port Douglas Kiwis were notorious for trying on dresses and not buying. After tastings at the winery they usually bought the minimum of one bottle.

"We call them one-bottle Kiwis."

I think he may have sensed that this was not the way to our hearts because he quickly added that the New Zealand economy must have improved because Kiwis now seemed happier, more confident and and more likely to spend money.

I found this guy so annoying that he made me not want to buy anything. But the wines — made by his wife — were too good to ignore. We got three bottles — ginger, dry mango and a superb sapote (chocolate pudding fruit) port — and I'd have liked to take more.

Savouring the sumptuous sapote port back home, I wondered why on Earth he thought that patter would persuade us to buy . . . he should have let the wines do the talking.

- NZ Herald

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