Our first taste of Times Square seemed unreal. I think it was all the more impressive as we kind of stumbled upon it by accident (it was less than a block away from our hotel). It really was a case of bright lights, big city! The constant movement of the hugely colourful advertising displays against the backdrop of the clear blue sky, the stream of yellow taxis, and the thousands of people made London's Piccadilly Circus seem, well, a bit crap.
We were in need of a camera. As there were a few camera shops handily located on Times Square, we popped into one of these to see what we could pick up. We opted for a neat little Casio model in a rather fetching blue. At $350, it was probably a little more than we had hoped to pay but roughly equivalent to what we would have paid back in the UK. The $200 we had to pay for a 1Gb memory card seemed a bit steep but not completely unreasonable and something we needed if we wanted to take more than 10 pictures before having to download the pics on to the computer. At least we could now record the unreality of Times Square, the majesty of the Statue of Liberty, and the breathtaking views from the top of the Empire State Building. We even took a photograph of the nice man who sold us the camera with his not-at-all-gay friend (see below).
It wasn't until the next day that Rachel revealed that she had since looked on the internet and discovered that we paid well over the odds for the camera we had bought. Even more galling was the price of 1Gb memory cards online: $50! I believe we had been what is commonly called "shafted". In our rush to record the technicolour beauty of Times Square we had foolishly handed over more Monopoly money than we should have (Rach had actually put it on her credit card, but you get my point).
At this point we had two choices. Either we forget about it, put it down to experience and get on with things (vowing to take extra care in the future). Or we take the camera back and ask for our money back. We wanted our money back, but we knew this would not be an easy thing to do (we are British after all!). Once we had located the receipt, the decision was made for us. In block capitals across the slip of paper it stated, in no uncertain terms, NO REFUNDS. Shit. (It didn't say "shit" on the receipt... that's my reaction to the No Refunds bit. But you knew that, right?)
It seemed that all was lost. Until we noticed that it did say that exchanges could be made within 7 days. Maybe we could salvage something. Not a refund, but perhaps we could change the camera for a better model, or get a memory card with more memory. Or something. Anything that might make us feel a little less foolish. And if we had no success then at least we had tried. Then we could put it down to experience.
As we walked back to the shop we agreed that our best chance of having some success was to be as open and friendly as possible with the salesman rather than telling him exactly what we thought of him. In fact, all we initially complained about was the fact that camera had only come with a very basic instruction manual and so we weren't able to work the camera's various features. We told him that as we were now aware that we had paid well over the odds for the camera, we at least expected we should have an instruction manual! Almost immediately he offered to replace the camera for a different, more expensive, model. We tried to hide our delight. We must have been at least somewhat successful in doing so, as within minutes he also offered to replace the 1Gb memory card with a card with 4 (count them... four!) Gb of memory. Result. We thanked him and edged our way back out into the bustle of Times Square. We had learned an important lesson that day. In fact we had learned two lessons. First, a fool and his money (or her money) are soon parted. Second, and perhaps more importantly, smile when you're complaining and you might just get your money back (or a 4Gb memory card!).