Oh please dear receiver, don't ever break again!
There was a minor circus in our flat last Friday afternoon. As a result of both one air con and our receiver giving up we had no other choice but to call our landlords (something we try to avoid otherwise, anyone who’s lived in China knows what dealing with landlords is like) and ask them to send some repair people. Of course the landlords didn’t just settle for sending repair people, but they had to come themselves too (both of them: it’s a middle-aged, married couple) to inspect everything.
Starting with the TV problem, the repair guy received some serious gibes from our landlord because the receiver had broken only 1,5 years after it had been purchased (and, the warranty had expired 6 months earlier, leaving the landlord no choice but to buy a new one). Why had it broken so soon? Why had our neighbor’s receiver no problem? Why wasn’t it possible to repair the old one?
At first, the repair guy tried to actually explain the problem (“these things break sometimes!”), but when he realized that the landlords didn’t settle for that excuse he started pointing fingers to us.
“Oh it’s the laowais! They have broken it! They don’t understand how to use these things.”
Too bad for him that I was sitting next to him, understanding about 96% of everything he was saying.
“What are you talking about? Why would we purposely break our own receiver?”
The accusation went on like that for a while, but soon I was pulled out of the discussion (it got more and more heated and I simply couldn’t keep up with my level of Chinese).
Soon people were standing up, screaming and pointing fingers at each other and when the landlord found out that he needed to pay 800 rmb for a new receiver I feared that he was going to start throwing things around.
He didn’t (phew!) although he kept yelling and arguing about the “poor quality,” saying that he “refused” to pay that much for that kind of bad quality.
I eventually left the room (get a headache from all the screaming, and also, it wasn’t fun when I couldn’t participate anymore) and when I came back I found out that the landlord had made a deal with the repair guy and that he was going to pay 600 rmb for the new (exact copy of the old) receiver.
I can’t help but thinking, that how can people over here expect a good quality when they always want to pay as little as possible? There’s this constant strive for buying cheap stuff in China. “Zai pianyi!” (“Come on, cheaper!”) is frequently used in price negotiation, and then still, the buyer expects the quality to be good?! It’s like they are constantly contradicting themselves, saying that “Oh we need this as cheap as possible!” and then when it breaks they get surprised, angry, and want compensation! Why not just pay some extra kuais and buy something decent? Or, make sure that you get an extra long warranty rather than a cheaper price? Because really, what’s the cheapest in the long run: Buying cheap things that break every now and then or paying a little bit extra and get a more decent quality?
Once the receiver was fixed it was the air con repair guy’s turn to arrive. Fortunately, the air con’s problem was fixable without a minor price war breaking out, but, as the guy took the air con apart I was told to go and clean the different filters (and man, were those filthy or what?!). I went out to our sink on the balcony where one half of the landlords later joined me. We cleaned the filters together and it didn’t take long before the sink was flooded!
Again, came the silly questions:
-Jonna, do you throw apples and stuff in your sink?
-Eh no. We put our trash in the bin like normal people. We actually don’t use this balcony sink. Only the ayi does when she cleans the mop.
-Oh, so the ayi must have put something into it!!!
Yeah, sure. Our ayi has nothing better to do but to stuff our sink with cotton pads. Of course. That has to be it.
Anyways, as a result of the sink being clogged the landlords had to call an additional team of repair guys who soon came to fix the sink (in total, there were three team of repair guys in our flat. And then every ‘team’ brought some of their ‘people’ –you know in China you should always arrive in a group of at least 3 people: So there can be one repairing and 2 extras, observing. Then it was me and the landlords. Yes, it was a circus). The clogging team arrived quickly and unclogged the sink with a bit of effort and laughter.
(However, the mystery of WHY the sink suddenly became clogged still remains unsolved. The landlord still blames our ayi).
Then it became pay time. The un-clogging team wanted 5 rmb for their instant arrival and problem solving. Five, single rmb coins.
-Oh my God so expensive! The landlord whined. Can we make it a bit cheaper? How about 2 rmb? I mean, when I first called I thought this sort of service was free?!
Not keen on having another second world war breaking out in our flat, I decided to step in.
-You know what, I will pay for that.
-Oh will you?! Well that’s great then, the landlord said, his whole face breaking into a smile for the first time since their arrival. (Man, it’s easy to make people happy over here).
Anyways, around 1 hour and 86493692634 cleaning and dust remarks later (another reason why I dread calling our landlords), plus some complaints because we don’t want to open our windows and allow the ‘fresh air’ to sweep through our flat (“Why not Jonna?! You know that fresh air is good for you, don’t you?” “Yes, but the air in Suzhou is everything from fresh. You can smell the pollution!” “Oh no it is not that bad! It is good with fresh air! They have made the air better lately!” –who are ‘they?’- “Well yes it is but trust me, this air is not fresh!” …..and so on), the landlords finally left. Oh man! I had to go and lay down after their departure, totally exhausted from 2,5 hours of defending myself. Let’s hope it’ll be a long while until something else breaks again.