We’re Not In Kansas Anymore


Imported = expensive

It took a month for me to have my first big, “Right, I’m not in the US anymore” moment.

My bathroom in my new apartment (more on that in a later post) is pitch black at night and if I get up in the middle of the night, I don’t like to turn on the overhead light because that makes me fully away. So, I went looking for a nightlight and finally found one at an upscale store in the nearby mall. At $14, it was on the expensive side and I wasn’t in love with it because it is on whenever it detects the room is dark—i.e., all night in my bathroom. But since this was the third store in which I’d looked for a nightlight, and people didn’t seem to know what I was looking for, I bought it.

(BTW, after a lot of long descriptions of what I was looking for and showing images on my phone, I discovered that the Spanish word in Colombia for it is “luz de noche”—nightlight.)

What I wanted

What I wanted

Then I found a simple one with an on/off switch for $2 at a small electronics/hardware store about 10 minutes away (and, it turns out, there are three of these stores on the nearby main road that I never noticed).

On Saturday, I went to return the expensive nightlight but in a different mall. I was told I had to go to the original store in order to get a refund. Annoying, but doable. However, when I did so on Monday, I was told that I can do only a merchandise exchange and only within eight days. No refunds. No store credit to spend later.

Apparently the return policy is printed on the back of the receipt, but when’s the last time anyone read one of those?

I was so frustrated at that moment that I said, out loud, “I really hate Colombia today.” Kind of wish I’d kept that to myself.

With a little bit of time, I recognized how absurd it was to assume that things like return policies would be the same here. The (inevitable) next time(s) I’m frustrated by things that are different, I will think of this and remind myself that really I need to adjust or drop my expectations.

End of the story: the store sells an odd combination of baby and kitchen items. I’m going to do an exchange for some items I can donate to my new kitchen. I will make sure to get great enjoyment out of using them.

1 Comment

  1. Ok…NOW I feel like a real reader of your blog. It’s the American culture…or at least my view of it. Everyone, everywhere does things like “we” do, and it surprises us when they don’t. I don’t think Americans intentionally try to come off like we do, it’s just how we’re programmed in a world of instant access to anything, pro-USA propaganda, and no-hassle return policies. 🙂 You’re still representing us well. -Mike

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