Elwood 5566

Freebies

Posted in Comparative, services and facilities by 노강호 on June 25, 2010

When you frequent a business in Korea it is usually the case that at some point the staff will repay your loyalty with what is known in Konglish as, ‘service-a,’ (서비스).  In a restaurant or bar, ‘service’ may take the form of a free drink or side-dish and in other shops in mat be some small items. For example, in chemists it may be a bottle of vitamin drink and my butcher often throws in a pound or two of free flesh.

Link to Roketship

I would imagine the more Korea becomes westernised the more this custom will be whittled away until like London on a hot summer afternoon, your can of  coke or mountain dew has an extra 30 pence added if it has been chilled. When you’re in the city and parched you’re  hardly going to opt for a warm 7 Up because it’s cheaper than the cold one!  Only a total stingy blades would do that, which is what the shop owners are for increasing the prices on chilled drink in the first place.  A drink should be chilled in hot weather and charging extra is sheer exploitation no different from charging extra for a hot cup of tea or a cold ice cream. A few years ago I ate bibimbap (mixed rice and vegetables) at a small Korean restaurant near the British Museum in London. Bibimbap is hardly an exotic meal and I would imagine the only unusual vegetable in it was bracken fern (고사리), if indeed there were any. Regardless, the meal cost me £8 which is an extortionate price. To compound matters, I was charged £2 (W4000) for an extra portion, ie spoonful of kimchi. That’s actually more expensive than a bowl of bibimbap in my local Kimbap Nara. In the UK no shop owner would dream of handing you a bar of chocolate for free and if they did you probably think they were up to no good!

I like the idea of providing ‘service’  especially as in all but the big supermarkets ordinary staff, even the youngest and most junior, are able to ‘award prizes.’ In Mr Big, New York, New York, and Misoya, all chain companies with branches throughout Korea, the staff are able to dish out the goodies to customers they like. Even in friendly, fresh, fun land, GS25, the sexy student occasionally plies me with a bar of chocolate.

In the last six days my ‘service earnings’ have been substantial. I’ve eaten three times in Mr Big where I only ever eat the nasi-goreng and on each occasion I’ve had a free glass of beer (W7.500). In Misoya, there is a sexy lad who two months ago was on the street outside a new mobile phone shop, trying to hook customers. Now he is two doors along working as a chef  and twice this week he’s  served me a complimentary dish of two large tempura prawns (W4000 = W11.500). Next door to Misoya is the chemist where I buy nicotine gum. I stopped smoking five years ago but still chew the gum and here I get W1000 off every time I buy a packet (W13.500). Yesterday my butcher gave me some extra meat which astthe least would have cost W2000 (W15.500). In New York, New York, I am given a complimentary coffee after every meal knowing I like roast potatoes, a rarity in Korea, they always serve me two instead of one (coffee 2x – W2000 = W17.500) Finally, every time I have a green tea latte in my favourite coffee shop, I get a persimmon honey cookie (약과)  for free; they cost W800 each (W19.100).  So, in six days my ‘service earnings’ amount to approx £10 –  enough to feed me for 2 days.

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  1. Quality of Life « Bathhouse Ballads said, on November 7, 2010 at 12:07 am

    […] customers. A few weeks ago I recorded and wrote about the ‘concessions’ I earned (see: Freebies)  in a seven-day period, and which amounted to 20.000 Won (£10). I had free onion rings, quite a […]


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