Shopping in Jakarta

Shopping in Jakarta can sometimes be a frustrating experience for me. I highly value efficiency, and since having children, my tolerance has decreased drastically. I love the shopping centers here. It’s clean, modern and has everything I need (if I know where to go.) There are also many shop attendants that will greet and eagerly help me. I know they try really hard with customer service, and I appreciate it.

Yesterday, I had a typical shopping experience, at my favorite Gandaria City. What should have been a quick and easy afternoon, quickly turned into a comedy of disasters.

I brought my nanny to assist with my shopping. The plan was that she keeps my kids occupied at our favorite indoor play center ‘Coconuts’, and I’ll quickly grab a few things at the shops. Coconuts only just opened mid this year, so I was terribly surprised and disappointed to see that it had already closed! This always seems to happen in Jakarta! Such a great business but for what ever reason, it’s disappeared and is no longer operating.

No issues, I took them to the other indoor playroom at ‘Amazing Town’. We pay downstairs and head upstairs to enter the playroom. The entrance was closed and unattended. So I had to go all the way back down again to get service. Sigh…why are all of the attendants gathered around in one spot only?

Onto my next mission, which should only take twenty minutes, max. Toy shopping for presents. Choosing the gifts were easy. Trying to pay for it on the other hand, was almost impossible! I had six shop attendants and a manager gathered around helping to pay for my transaction! There were so many attendants, that the check out girl got awfully confused and couldn’t keep track of scanning the five items. She presented me with the total cost but didn’t look confident. So I asked her for a breakdown of each item and she couldn’t do this! The manager needed to step in. He asked me if I wanted to buy the items together in one transaction or in separate transactions?! This is a strange question to ask, I just want to buy my toys!

I replied, “One transaction.” He then explained that if I were to pay for them in one transaction, the discounted rate for the toys advertised on the shelf will not apply! “But your cash register girl just billed me with one transaction! Is she charging me the full prices and not the discounted price?” I asked. “Yes”, he replied and looked at me like I was the crazy one, wanting to pay at the discounted price rather than the full price! I was slowly dying in the inside… gosh I miss Amazon and online shopping!

I explained to the manager that I honestly don’t care how many transactions it took, as long as I get charged the correct discounted prices they were offering!

And so, two transactions on and finally, we are finished…until I was asked to wait an additional half an hour for the gift wrapping, even though there were four girls wrapping five items! Oh why, oh why, oh why?!!!

So my last task for the day was to buy a fish tank filter in Ace Hardware. Although I knew exactly what I needed to buy, the store didn’t sell the complete parts and no one there understood me. I know it’s not their fault because I have a difficult strong Australian accent. But this is one of the challenges being an expat…trying to be understood. Not only is there a language barrier, there is also the cultural barrier.

So I just gave up on this one because I knew that it was time to get my kids home and feed them! Quickly needing to rush home, my driver had parked our car in an area that was out of range for calls, so I couldn’t get in touch with him. Arhhh! Panic!!! Why is this happening now?! Why?!!!!

That was the straw that broke this camel’s back and I just wished that I had never left my home in the first place! This was all too much for me.

I know that everyone means well, and shops have lots of attendants so that customers are being effectively served. I know that having my own driver should help me out. But mostly, I feel like this overload of people helping EVERYWHERE (including my own household staff), really does cause a lot of frustration and inefficiency in my life!

So why am I writing this post? Don’t I love Jakarta!? Yes! I still love Jakarta! I am sharing my experience to show that even I have bad days here! Like I have previously stated, every city has its challenges. These were mine for that day. On the plus side, my Baby Wombat got a perfect haircut by Kiddy Cuts Gandaria City. Indonesians are so tender and patient with kids. So it’s not that bad after all… maybe next time I need to have a coffee first and leave my kids at home. It would be far less stressful for me. Lesson learnt.

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