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8 Commandments Of Shopping In A Nigerian Market

1. Thou Shall Strive To Be The ‘First Customer Of The Day’ At Every Shop You Patronize.
Many Nigerian shop owners have this belief that their sales throughout the day are somewhat dependent on the way they treat the first customer to patronize them. So whenever they receive the first customer of the day, they go the extra mile to make sure the person feels extra special and leaves their shop happy and satisfied, even if it means selling to them at highly cheaper discounts.

Having learnt about this, I always try as much as possible to do my shopping in the morning Just so that I don’t miss the rare opportunity of being the first customer at any of the shops I would be patronizing so as to get the “first customer of the day” discount on everything I would be buying. Even though I’ve been quite fortunate in my quest many times, I’m not always lucky. Not every shop owner actually buys into that superstitious belief.

2. Thou Shall Split Prices Into Half First Before Commencing Thy Bargaining.

I came up with this commandment during my early days of doing my own shopping when I got insulted by one Yoruba market woman who got deeply offended when I priced her wares way lower than the original price.

From the little I remember, I only priced the fish I wanted to buy from her down to NGN200 from the NGN800 she wanted to sell it for, to which she responded, “ko gba, e lo si waju”. When you translate that from Yoruba to English Language, that statement has two meanings. One is direct and the other is indirect. Directly it means, “Please try somewhere else, I can’t give you at that price” but indirectly, what she told me was simply to “f**k off!” It was when I tried persuading her further that all hell broke loose. What names didn’t she call me that day?! It wasn’t funny at all. Being the easy-going type of person that I am, I just respected myself and walked away.

I’ve come to learn overtime that the best thing is not to price down goods way much lower than half the original price. When a seller gives me a price, it’s just a front. The real price is probably ‘nearly close to’ or ‘slightly more than’ half the original price. So for example, when the seller says a product is NGN1,000, I just slash that amount in half, which is precisely NGN500 and the bargaining continues from there until we both agree on a fair price. That way, it’s a win-win.

3. Thou Shall Carefully Verify The Condition Of Goods Before Purchase.
I once branched by an Igbo man’s shop in a market one day to buy a pair of leather slippers for myself. It was in the afternoon and I was on my way home from a friend’s place in Lagos. I was in so much of a hurry to leave the shop so that I could catch a bus home, early. Working hours were almost over and I had to beat the ‘after-work’ traffic before it started to build up if I wanted to get home on time. So, I immediately paid the seller after we both agreed on a fair price for the cool pair of leather slippers that caught my eye without properly checking the condition they were in. “All new things are never in bad condition”, I always assumed.

It was not until much later when I reached home that I noticed a defect in the left slipper. It was too late to return to the shop, so I waited till the following day before going back to make a complaint and demand a replacement.

I reached his shop the following day and after laying my complaint, I demanded for a replacement with another pair of the same kind but he didn’t have, so I asked him for a refund only for him to tell me, “Oga the money don enter virus! E don go”. Now, that got me really angry. After shouting at each other and arguing back and forth for a long while, he went on to give me two options. It was either I chose between buying something else or make do with the defected one. It was unbelievable!

I eventually ended up having to add more money to the money I had previously paid for the slippers to buy a pair of shoes instead. All the shouting and arguing I did that day didn’t make him change his mind. Such a stubborn soul, that man was.

In order to avoid stories that touch next time, I don’t pay if I’m not 100% sure the product is okay or if it isn’t what I really want to buy, because in any Nigerian market, refunds are almost impossible to get. Not even after noticing a defect, two seconds after paying. I’ve learnt to shine my eyes.

4. Thou Shall Carefully Verify the Condition of Your ‘Change’ before leaving Shop of the Seller’s Shop.
This has become compulsory for me whenever I shop in a Nigerian market. I have learnt to always check the condition of the money I’m given as ‘change’ before leaving any shop where I’m given. Many sellers receive bad or mutilated currency notes from buyers without knowing and in a bid to get rid of these bad notes, most sellers pass them on as ‘change’ to new unknowing buyers that patronize them.

They do it by placing the bad notes in-between good ones so that they blend in, almost undetectable. If the buyer doesn’t check each note carefully before leaving the shop, that buyer probably won’t be able to return the bad notes for better ones because in most cases, the seller would vehemently deny ever giving them to the buyer. This has happened to me so many times and has forced me to be more careful.

I once received bad notes as change from a vendor without knowing. It was not until the vendor at the next shop I visited rejected them that I realized. When I went back to meet the vendor that gave me the bad notes to complain and exchange them for good ones, she absolutely denied ever giving them to me. I was shocked to the bones. I eventually had to visit the nearest bank to get those notes changed before I could continue my shopping.

So at anywhere I shop, I make sure I check the condition of my ‘change’ before leaving. What happens next time if it’s the only money I have left and there isn’t any bank around to go change the money or make a quick cash withdrawal at the ATM to use in continuing my shopping? That means I’m stuck. No way am I going to let that happen. Getting stuck in the market is really not a situation I want to be in.

5. Thou Shall Survey The Market For All The Best Options Available Before Making Any Purchase.
Shopping in a Nigerian market is something that shouldn’t be hurriedly done. It’s not a thing of joy for me to realize I could have purchased bigger, better and cheaper versions of certain items as I leave the market, if only I hadn’t purchased them in a hurry.

Anytime I run out of foodstuff, I make sure I wait until a day I have enough time on my hands to go shopping. This gives me enough time to do a quick market survey on the price range, quantity and quality of items I need, within a radius that is comfortable for me to traverse. This helps me find all best options available before I make my decision on whether to purchase any of those items and from which shop to do so.

I learnt my lesson when I once hurriedly bought pepper from a seller in the market without surveying other places for better options first, only to see bigger and better ones for cheaper, just as I was leaving the market. I wasn’t too happy about that, so since then, I always ensure I take my time whenever I go shopping so that I can get the best of what’s available in the market.

6. Thou Shall NOT Speak Too Much English At The Market.
In Nigeria, quite a lot of market people see customers who have a good command of the English language as being financially buoyant and then charge them based on that. Unsuspecting customers who fall into this category are charged if not more than twice the original price, so even if the customer follows the second commandment above and slashes the original amount the seller charges into half before bargaining further, it won’t matter because the customer would still get ripped-off. Ridiculous isn’t it?

So anytime I go to the market to shop, I refrain from speaking too much English and switch to speaking Pidgin English or when I’m in a Yoruba locality, I speak Yoruba, which is my native language. That way, I can blend in and avoid being hypercharged or ripped off and to be honest it has worked for me and it still does.

7. Thou Shall Take Goods In Dim-Lit Shops Out Into Broad Daylight For Proper Inspection Before Making Any Purchase.
I remember this one time I branched by a shop in a market to buy blue shirts for myself. I wanted more blue shirts in my wardrobe because I felt I had enough shirts of other colors. After a longtime of searching for what I wanted through all the pile of shirts that the seller had, I found two blue shirts that I liked and paid for them.

Just as soon as I stepped out to leave the shop, I then noticed the shirts were not actually blue, but white. It then occurred to me. The inside of the shop was illuminated by bright blue electric bulbs, meaning that the blue light shinning from the bulbs had made the white shirts look blue and I unknowingly bought them.

I immediately brought my discovery to the awareness of the seller and asked to go back inside to look for actual blue shirts. This time around, I searched for all the shirts that looked blue inside the shop and took them outside into broad daylight to confirm whether they were indeed blue or not before making my choice and you won’t believe how many of those shirt weren’t blue.

If I had returned to search for what I really wanted without any luck, you can trust it would almost impossible to get the shop owner to give me refund (Re: Commandment Number 3). I’ve always been extra-careful anytime I visit shops like that, since then. I make sure I take the goods I want to buy outside into broad daylight to confirm their true color or condition before making any payment.

Shop owners who use bulbs of a different color, other than white inside their shop might have something to hide and should be suspected. It’s might be a trick to hide the true color or condition of the goods in their shop from unsuspecting customers.

8. Thou Shall Scout For Trustworthy Sellers and Become A Loyal Customer.
It’s not every time I come by trustworthy sellers that would sell me stuff without any shadiness involved. So when I do come by sellers of that virtue, I’ve made it a habit to become their loyal customer and develop a good relationship with them. Doing that guarantees me zero-shadiness on all my purchases, including me getting the ‘loyal customer’ discounts, if you know what I’m saying (*wink*).

This has not always worked for me a 100%, but I’ve had a high success rate. The adage, “familiarity breeds contempt” is quite true as some sellers that I once deemed trustworthy and developed a good relationship with, took my trust and the relationship we had for granted and started ripping me off on the low. So from time to time, I make sure I try out other places to make sure I don’t have a ‘good-seller- turned-bad’ case on my hands.

Written By: “M.” (Tortorri Feature Writer).


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1 Comment

  1. Eminem says:

    You really killed this post Very nice lolz

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