Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Buying A TV in Korea

Neither of us has posted to the blog in awhile, and we feel bad about that. Not because we think the world needs Twitter like updates of our every move, but more because our own memories of the last year get foggier and murkier every day. We've been so many places and seen so many things that now we can't even remember what country we first ate fried cheese in. That's the real point of this blog I think, for us to remember who and where and when. It's a journal, but open to our friends and family and random internet passer-by.

Anyway, quick update. Sara and I have moved to Korea. We split 10 days in a couple of love motels, which actually turned out to be some of the nicest hotels we've ever stayed in; big tv's, clean accomadation's, quiet hallways and lobbies, decent lighting in the rooms, hardwood floors. All in all, these two love motels, The Hotel Noblesse and the Hotel Major come highly recommended. Still, as nice as they were, we're happy to be in our own place. We've got a decent amount of space, and it helps that our sleeping area is lofted above the kitchen, although the somewhat low ceiling makes it impossible to stand up in our "bedroom." That's fine. We can live with crouching every time we want to get into or out of bed.

We were also excited to see that the previous occupant of our apartment had left us a monster 40" television. One of those big grey, old, boxy behemoths, the bigscreen tv equivalent of the Zach Morris monster cell phone. Great. A big tv. But, we turned it on, and the picture kind of sucked. We tried for a couple of days to watch it, but quickly gave up and decided to buy a new tv. Now, we don't speak any Korean, and this being a Korean speaking country, we knew we might be in for some trouble. Add to that the fact we don't have a car, don't have a phone, don't know our address, weren't sure our American credit cards would even work here in Korea, you've got a recipe for TV buying disaster.

But we wanted that TV. We started by looking on Craigslist, but could only find Televisions much like the one we currently had, old gigantic three hundred pounders. No thanks. So we decided to try to find a store. Last Saturday we went to six places trying to find a TV. No one really even tried to help us, which was fine as we were kind of going through something trying to decide what size and whether or not a plasma or lcd would be best. Plus, you get into the tv showroom, and there's a bunch of 40 and 42 inch televisions that look beautiful and perfect, and they're pretty reasonably priced. But then there's that giant 60" hanging there, dwarfing the 40", ruining the perspective of everything. It's not that much more in money, (ok, it's double), but it's so much bigger and the people look like they could walk right out of the screen and into the showroom and dance around with their weird purple hair and yellow spandex shorts. So Saturday, we went home. We couldn't afford the 60" and the 40's no longer looked adequate. Shamed by their bigger, brighter, better cousin the 60, we were defeated.

But we came home, turned on the old tv and went, oh screw this, tomorrow, new tv. So Sunday, we wake up and head to the LG store, about two blocks from where we live. Again, we don't know our address or how we're going to get our tv home, but we're also kind of stupid and just do what we want regardless of little problems like not speaking the language and not having any idea where the tv should be delivered, if that's even an option. But, while we may be kind of stupid, we're also extremely lucky. The first guy that approached us at the LG store spoke decent enough English. So he kind of points at the TV's and repeats the major capabilities of all the Tv's, 50", 1080p, Plasma, LCD, that kind of thing. There's some kind of wonderful sale happening, complete with a giant dancing clown out front and The Black Eyed Peas blaring from speakers, and most of the tv's are marked down 600,000 won, which is close to 600 dollars. Great for us. We point at a tv and the guy goes and checks the price and tells us it's a display model. We're like great, sold. He's very happy, we're very happy.

Now, delivery. We try to tell the guy we live close, in the building with the Pizza school. He kind of looks at us like, great... this Pizza school reference is sort of the equivalent of telling someone you live near a Starbucks and therefore not very helpful. So we tell the guy we're going to leave, go to the apartment, find the address and come back. Ok, good. He walks us to the door and asks us where we live. We point down the street, you can almost see our apartment from the store. So we're pointing at our apartment, and he starts pointing at his car. "My car, I'll take you." We look at each other, look at the guy, sort of figure he's just a serious salesmen and cross our fingers that he's not some kind of Korean serial killer and get it. So then this guy drives us to our apartment, hops out of the car, gets the address from the security guard, gets back in the car and drives us back to the LG store. Awesome. What a great country.

Good, now we know what TV we want and we know our address. We fill out some paper work, all in Korean, so maybe we signed our organs away to this guy I don't know, and hand over our credit cards. He swipes them once, twice, three times... no go. Thwarted by our foreigness. And us, from the country where easy dirt cheap credit allowing young, barely employed, broke people to buy fancy televisions. Noooooo! So what can we do? Get cash? Sure, but we're confident we have limits on how much we can take out and we want this TV today. So we leave, promising to find a way to get this much cash. Lot's of ways flash through my head. The Koreans are a pretty trusting people and with any half-way decent pick-pocketing skills, you could clean up on the subway or any kind of crowd really. But I like it here and don't want to go to Korean jail, although I bet there would still be Kim-chi. So, while Sara and I are standing around trying to decide whether or not we should rob a bank, the salesmen comes running down the street, waving. "Hey" he communicates. "I got it." Something about a phone call to the credit company, I don't know. What I do know is that we go back in, he makes a phone call, punches our numbers into the phone, and boom, receipts start popping out. TV purchased. So now this guy has driven us to our apartment, chased us down in the street and sold us a 50" plasma, to be delivered on Monday.

We walk out of the store, all high on spending massive amounts of money, and I start to put the receipt in my pocket, and I look and it's all in Korean, and I start to wonder, what if this is all some big scam? What if we just dropped a thousand bucks on nothing? What are we going to do if they don't ever bring our TV? What can we do?

Of course, there's nothing we can do. It's done. The TV will come or the TV won't come. That's it.

Happily, it wasn't some rip off the foreigner scam and on Monday morning the largest, most beautiful tv in the world arrived. The delivery guys even set the whole thing up and changed the menu to English. All included in the price of the TV.
Now, I'm sitting here in my new apartment, watching the NLCS on my new tv and feeling pretty good about this whole Korea thing.

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