Home > Uncategorized > EASY PAYMENT OPTIONS: Keeping up with the Joneses has never been easier!

EASY PAYMENT OPTIONS: Keeping up with the Joneses has never been easier!


Keeping up with the Joneses has never been easier!

  • Vendors offer appliances, bikes on instalments of as little as Rs 1,000 per month in middleclass, lower-middleclass areas
  • Informal advertising of services also provides ‘employment’ for streetchildren

By Urooj Zia

KARACHI: If you’re wondering how to one-up the neighbours who just got that wonderful new refrigerator, you’re in luck. Vendors near Ayesha Manzil and some in Saddar’s ‘electronic market’ offer appliances and even motorbikes on relatively easier instalments of around Rs 1,000 per month.

“Many of our customers are either newlyweds or people looking to consolidate their daughters’ dowry,” Rehman, who owns an electronics appliances shop near Ayesha Manzil, told Pakistan Today. “Payment recovery is rarely a problem. We follow a very strict system of references, and deliver goods to people’s homes. Plus, most of the people who come to us aren’t the type who would want to run off with the money that they owe us.”

Other vendors who Pakistan Today spoke to also echoed Rehman’s sentiments. Employees visit the prospective customer’s office and house, and also those of the people who are referring them. Many also ask customers to sign post-dated cheques, which, they maintain, makes things easier for both, the vendor and the customer. “This way, we’re assured of payment, and the customer doesn’t have to visit us every month; nor do we have to run after them,” Tariq, who works at a shop in the inner lanes of Ayesha Manzil, said. “It’s a win-win situation, don’t you think?”

While these services have been around for a while, vendors have now come up with an ingenuous new method for advertising: many now hire streetchildren to distribute their pamphlets at signals. “We tell them about the target audience, etc, and then give them a bundle of pamphlets to distribute. They’re paid in bulk. I pay my kids Rs 50 for distributing 500 pamphlets,” Rehman said. “There are times when some of these children try to cheat us. They might throw the pamphlets away, or maybe throw four or five in one vehicle, and come back and tell us that they’ve distributed all of them. But they soon realise that we’re not stupid either. We have a fair idea of how long it takes to distribute how many pamphlets, according to the area and days of the week.”

The response that these vendors have received via these pamphlets has been ‘encouraging,’ they maintain. “Business has gone up considerably,” said another shop owner from Ayesha Manzil. “This is especially beneficial for those of us who can’t afford shops at prime locations, such as along the main road.”

The children who are hired for pamphlet-distribution also seemed happy, for the most part. ‘We no longer have to beg all day. We do take that up towards day-end, and on days when there are no flyers to distribute; but this pamphlet thing is wonderful,’ a bunch of distributors near the Taj Complex signal told Pakistan Today. They also watch out for each other, to ensure that everyone is paid fairly. “Some vendors tried to cheat the younger children out of their payment, but we ‘took care of them’. They’ve behaved themselves ever since,” 16-year-old Saeed said. Their ‘handlers’ – people who keep a watch over them to make sure that each child is posted at the specified location and hasn’t disappeared or tried to run away – apparently don’t mind either. “All they want is money at the end of the day. They’re not concerned with how we get it. Plus, with this pamphlet system, we’re assured of payment,” Saeed maintains.

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