You know how I rant about thrift shopping, outlet sales, discounted coupons –essentially bargains to make it simple. And never in my life could I ever imagine I would fall down and be victim of those bogus hawkers.
Let me recap the fleeting story of how husband and I became a good target.
Prior to our recent trip to Ilocos we were always eager to buy seafoods on our way home as it’s always the best pasalubong we thought we could take back home to family and friends. And I remember how we scored pretty good yellow fin tuna in Sta. Cruz, Ilocos Sur during one of our trips way back in 2009. If I may recall back in 2008, we also made that stop in La Union and almost bought those giant prawns however, we discard the idea easily because we were too cramped in our car.
Tsk, I should have taken photos of their faces too 😦
Not until our trip back to Manila following Holy Week this year. Probably because we were more lax during our daytrip we allowed the plenty of stopovers. It’s right after a stopover in Rosario, La Union for gas reloading we made that second stop in the artery of Agoo, La Union. The culprit –hawkers that flock the highway, waving big prawns and appeared to be drained from all day standing notwithstanding the heat of the sun. Sometimes, it hit me to see the locals that way and the thought of why not buy their produce as it’s the only way I could possibly give help.
So, without further ado, we stopped and parked at the side of the road, not even thinking of our security in the first place. I opened the car window and asked the local how much? “Mam, P450 po”, I told him back “P450? ang mahal, presyong Manila yan ‘nong”. As I continue to haggle, husband stepped out of his driving seat to inspect the quality of the prawns. This time, I noticed ‘nong (short for Manong) waived to his colleagues to signal that we got customer here. They became three in short, an elderly woman, a teen and the ‘nong, which I can tell maybe in his 30’s. Since these folks spoke Ilocano too, husband conversed to them in the same tongue. Until, husband informed me that the price can be lowered at P350 if we got all prawns, 5 kilos all in all. I had apprehension and thought for a while, what am I going to do with those 5 kilos. It’s quite too much for us two but the thought of my family who share the same passion and love for seafood with me I expunged all my hesitations. Besides the teens that rode with us was probably drooling to savor some once we got home and cooked. I didn’t mind at all that the husband wasn’t like that, he was never been an impulsive buyer from the start. Well, we thought we got another discount when we paid a total of P1, 700 only, plus we got the container filled with ice for free.
We had at least three stopovers before the prawns were unloaded and pulled out from the small pail. It was my Nanay who first touched the prawns when we arrived in Cavite, I told her that it’s a load and it’s quite expensive. My eyes were ready to shut at almost 2am especially that we were on the road the entire day when my Nanay told me that the prawns she took out from the pail was only some –7 pieces to be exact. I had it checked myself; I even had to dip my two hands to absolutely check. From that point, I had to asked husband if he left some in Makati (Manang Linda’s house). He’s response was negative and because I was little disturbed already he went on to check it out his own. I know he got surprised on what he discovered too but kept mum to avoid the lengthy discussion, besides what else can we do now? At that point, we were already sleepy to make a case so we chose to retire, as it’s the only best thing at the moment.
The following night, we have time to recollect how the incident happened in our very eyes. How we became victims of overpricing, underselling and ghost sales, whichever way it was a fake deal.
The hawkers had been expert in doing this especially if they sense that the target customers are Manila based. They were very wise to think that a customer from Manila would never drive back just to claim the deficit.
Because husband seemed to be too trusting while he conversed in Ilocano, we became the unwilling victim of opportunists and mischief. He even allowed those hawkers to place the pail at the back of our car after he paid it.
Because passersby like us were normally in a hurry, we became vulnerable –the reason why we were cheated.
I don’t know if it was some sort of “budol-budol” but categorically it’s the same.
Though under weighing was another story and the least of our concern, it was still the cause of our very expensive prawns.
The modus operandi of this gang was so easy for us not to discover right away –simple, they showed us the abundance of prawns, we haggle a bit they gave in, they voluntarily carry the pail for us where in fact they switched it with a new pail with a very small number of prawns. 7 pieces of prawns for P1, 700 –frustrating but we find no option to set it right except that this would be a big lesson for us from now on, we would be watchful until the next time because our hard earned money is so painful to expend just like that. 😦
P.S. I hope these hawkers from Agoo, La Union should be stopped as this highway is accessible to local and foreign tourist, which can be the next prey. And guess it will be more fun in the Philippines without these counterfeiters.