Philippines shopping style can be frustrating for me.  There are few things that annoy me. It isn’t the end of the world or anything but a bit daunting. Some of the common issues I run into are frequent out of stock issues, hard to find someone that can help me with a product, sometimes instead of no help I end up with six sales people following me around, much higher prices on some items and many things I’d like to have are not available at all. Philippines is not all bad though, some things about shopping in the Philippines are incredible. This article will mostly focus on the less than awesome.

While most of my experiences are in Cebu, many of these issues I’ve encountered in multiple locations within the Philippines.  The availability of products is certainly universal in the places within the Philippines that I’ve visited.

Philippines Shopping Frustration

Sometimes an entire city and perhaps the entire province is out of ordinary things like Coke Zero, a certain kind of potato chips that I like and some other items that I can’t recall. I really get in a weak without my Coke Zero. Yeah Yeah, I know that’s bad and I need to fix it. 🙂

Related to that, I don’t like the bottled water we buy here. It has a bad odor to me. Odor is part ofPhilippines Shopping taste. I suppose I should buy more bottled water from the market rather than the local distributor. When it comes to water, I’m talking about the big bottles one would usually only see in an office in the USA.  You know the kind, where you turn them upside down and insert into a dispenser and put your cup under it. Was fine in Cebu City but I don’t like what I’ve found in Bogo. I should try those smaller bottles from the grocery.  I’m sure it is the caffeine I’m addicted to.

I rare drank caffeinated soft drinks in the USA.  In the Philippines, I can’t find it without it. That’s all I can get. They don’t have diet 7up any place I’ve been. They do have diet sprite but that’s awful to me. And yes, I do drink sugar free and I know all the warnings about the sweeteners. I am ALWAYS thirsty. This is related to lupus. Can’t help it.

I use to use a lot of sugar free candy. The problem with that is some of it will cause stomach cramps and diarrhea.  The other problem is that I have to take a three hour bus ride to get it. Can’t find it in Cebu and I can’t do it with sugar.

Geesh, I have to defend myself too much. I am who I am. 🙂 Things that work for many others just don’t work for me. I have Sjögren’s syndrome. It causes dry eyes and dry mouth. It isn’t as bad as it use to be.   Sometimes though my lips crack from the dryness. Vaseline does wonders. It did some serous damage to my eyes for a while. I didn’t know it was going on and it caused the cornea to become scratch. Eye doc had to put metal plugs in my eye so the tears would not drain.  I can’t get the eye drops I need here either.
While defending myself, look at all the products I can’t get while shopping in the Philippines.  Just not available at all or I have to go on  a three hour bus trip to get it. I use to ship a lot of it to the Philippines.   Some of these items are heavy and it cost too much to ship it here.  Now that my funds are not as extremely tight as they were for a couple of years, I could start ordering in larger quantities and ship over in balikbayan boxes. I need a certain laundry detergent as everything here causes me to itch. Problem is, I don’t even remember what I use to buy to prevent that. I believe it was one of the liquid arm and hammer.

Now most of you will not run into as many of these issues as I do. I do have special needs. I’m retired early because I’m on disability. I don’t mention that often because people don’t understand and I find myself defending that too. It is a common issue for people with mild to moderate lupus. However, you may very well run into a different version of my issues. I’ve found ways to adapt and overcome. Maybe I should have been a marine. haha No way I could have ever done that after the age of 21.

You’re going to find things you will need to adapt and overcome or you’ll probably head back to your homeland. It does happen a lot. I’ve been adapting most of my life because of these things, maybe I’ve become good at it.  The things I’ve gained by living here outweigh the negatives.

 Philippines Shopping With Questions

Last week I spent a day in SM Mall trying to find out about cell phones and mobile computing. It was an exercise in frustration. I went from store to store and most of the time it was hard to find anyone free to ask for help. Once you get them they are very polite and friendly.

The two phones I’ve used here in the Philippines would not connect to Globe or Smart’s InternetIMAX in Cebu City connection. I thought you had to have post-pay rather than pre-pay like I’ve always used here. Now I know my phone was just not setup properly. Jessie has the same phone I had before it was stolen this week. Talking to her about what I wanted to know, I found out her phone will connect to the net on pre-pay but it takes a lot of her load (credits). Its too expensive.

While shopping in Cebu last week, I kept trying to find out how I would connect to the net without a post pay internet. The only answer I managed to get was it will connect any where if it has GPS. Part of the problem was I didn’t know my phone wasn’t configured properly. It was also clear the sales person that I finally got to talk to Jessie and didn’t want to talk about this. That is probably because of the expense.

I finally figured out I could buy a cheap phone from Globe or Smart, get the post-pay plan with unlimited data transfer that I want and then buy the phone I really wanted. I just couldn’t get anyone to explain this.

When I went to the Globe and Smart stores, they had long lines. The old fall in line syndrome strikes again.  To be accurate you get your customer number and wait for the number to be called. You’ll be able to sit if there are any places left. That’s really better than the last time I went into an AT&T store in Memphis. I had to stand up while I waited but the wait wasn’t long.

The Smart store had about 30 people in the store and only two employees. Now many of the customers where there only to pay there bill so they wouldn’t take a long time. The wait would have still been excessive. I wasn’t interested. Jessie said our Globe office in Bogo can do it. Duh, I didn’t know that. Only Globe though, not Smart.  That’s fine. Smart strikes me as having little to no interest in customer service. The wait until you drop mode is fully operational there. Globe’s situation was a bit better though. In Smart’s defense, they have closed their main store for renovations and moved to a small temporary location.  Still, its not the way I would do business!

A week or so ago someone left a comment on this site suggesting that pay was so low as there is a type of job sharing going on. He was referring to what I mentioned in the introduction. Sometimes you can have six employees following you around. This only happened once to me but it did happen and all I wanted was a beard trimmer. In some of the stores, often the employee just wont go away. The old “I’m just looking” signal commonly used in the USA means nothing. It seems to happen more to me for small items. I don’t need help in buying plastic glasses, leave me alone. haha I don’t really agree with that being a reason for the pay being low but sometimes departments within the large store do have an excess of employees.

Philippines Mall ShoppingTwice I’ve been in SM’s store in the mall in the shoe department and couldn’t get anyone to help us. Jessie was looking for shoes. Do we look like we are homeless or something I wonder? They even hacked Jessie off once. Girl was more interested in flirting with co-worker and didn’t want to help us. We ended up going to a small shop instead.

Another instance of inadequate service is when I went to the Canon store. I wanted to look at a Canon 7D and hold it and I did. It didn’t have a lens on it. I asked if I could put my lens on the camera and was told no. They couldn’t take a lens off another of their cameras and put on it. I said I can’t buy it then. I found one at another store with a lens but dead battery so I couldn’t really see how it looked when I looked through the view finder.  No working display model?

High Priced Electronics In The Philippines

I’m looking to upgrade my camera to a canon 7D probably. I’d like to buy it in the Philippines in order to spend my money here and support my new home.  The price of the Canon 7D without a lens in the Philippines at two stores is P89,000 or about $2120. The price on Amazon today? It is $1345. Check it out here. Almost $1000 more on a $2100 item?  I don’t think taxes are going to explain that kind of price difference. There is a tax on electronics sent here for resale.  I’ll buy mine from Amazon and ship it via Johnny Air Cargo. I can’t spend an extra thousand dollars just to get it fast and support the Philippines.

Philippines Shopping is Not all Bad

Now you can also buy some interesting things in the Philippines. The bigger malls here are very nice Philippines Malland SM likes to build huge malls. Nicely air conditioned, Imax theater, kiddie rides even a day care inside the mall. You can drop of your package or even luggage at SM’s customer care so you don’t have take them all over the place with you. In fact, you’re suppose to do that. They don’t want you taking your shopping bags into the big stores. I think it would be required.

Of course you can get things here you can’t get in the West, especially items that are rooted in Filipino customs. Most items are a lot cheaper here too, even in the malls and if you get out of the malls you can really save some dollars.

Cebu has a lot of very nice stores. You can get expensive designer items and sometimes find food you’re missing from the USA in Duty Free. In Manila, your Philippines shopping provides a lot more. They have many of the famous department stores that can be found in the USA and probably Europe as well. You can shop cheap or you can go to rather exclusive shops. I don’t recall the names but some big names are there.  No Walmart though, if your a fan of that, well, you’ll have to wait until you’re back in the USA. haha

It was the lines at Smart and Globe and being unable to get adequate help at the specialty stores that prompted me to write this article. It was a frustrating day of Philippines shopping for me.

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Filed under: Living In The Philippines

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