Saturday, September 15, 2007

It's not what you do... but who you know?

As mentioned earlier and see also here, Tbilisi municipality (or the Government??) is cracking down hard on traders, and almost everywhere you get the dinky little receipts now, unless you buy off the granny sitting on the roadside in front of her buckets of apples or cheese. These are the most mobile businesses - the next ones up are the ones with the rickety little stalls; then you rent a space in a larger establishment (eg the former central supermarket - a dreadfully ugly, run down sort of place where you could get quite a lot of useful, if not necessarily beautiful stuff. It's now sold for 22 million USD, to be replaced by a shopping mall selling Dolce and Gabbano and such like. Another contribution to the eradication of poverty. I probably won't be able to get my washing powder there in the future. In good Georgian style the traders had until 5 August to clear their stuff out, but the police prevented them from entering on 31 July. Why have human rights? Why have any rights? This place is now owned by a British company owned by a chap living in Israel. Oh the shame!).

The highest class establishments then are the shops which have premises all to themselves. They also have the wee receipt machines, which tell you nothing, only the total you spent. How does the sum get in? The shop assistant scans your goods and they go into a computer which shows up the goods and adds the bill together. Then the shop assistant takes this amount and types it into the totally unconnected little machine. So today a friend thought he had already paid for my chewing gum, I was not sure, and the cashier showed him the little slip, with no info other than his total spend. D'oh!

So you'd think a shop in King Erekle Street, the most touristy place in Tbilisi, selling hand-made enamel jewelry, would be really well organised, wouldn't you, seeing as they are selling the goods of many different craftspeople who all have to be paid? Think again. Sad tale coming up.

Ham had bought a beautiful little cross for his girlfriend, and two hours, a large beer and a bottle of Saperavi later we had lost it. Last seen in the restaurant of the Kopala hotel, we did not have it when he got home. Huge bummer. Even more so seeing that he bought some wine at Tbilisi airport, which was then promptly taken off him under the 'no liquids rule' whilst changing planes in Riga.

Went off to the shop today, since at the time they had had three other similar crosses in the display, and found that they had none left. There was one vaguely similar, but not quite as nice, and the others were interesting, but not the right style. Quite apart from the ubiquitous St George slaying the dragon - not good for an almost-vegetarian....

I spotted the saleslady who had helped us last time, but she could not remember what we bought. So I asked if they did not have the records of what they sold last Sunday? Seems not unreasonable - if the makers want to be paid you'd think someone keeps a very good register of what is sold and when? You'd think in a computer system they would enter the item, the cost, the date of sale, and the original maker... seeing all the computers sitting around in the place, with people using MS Messenger.... You'd think further that such information could then be easily retrieved....

But it seems they do not keep such records, or it would be very difficult to find. As my friend Hans always says: 'let's put the word 'lazy' on the table'. If they really do not keep their records up to date, I would not want to be in their shoes.....

Was there a receipt? Like heck there was!