The Chip and Pin payment system is prevalent all over the UK, it has revolutionised the way we pay and become a staple for most retailers to provide.
From what I’ve seen in Romania, the same revolution is happening…just at a much slower pace; lots of shops still do not offer this service. It is mostly large supermarkets and other big retail outlets that have a Chip and Pin payment option…but even here, the speed of these card systems is extremely slow in comparison to the lightening fast “I didn’t even put my card in yet” machines across the UK.
I recently came across a strange sight at the checkout of a big electronics shop. A huge collection of Chip and Pin card machines, all with different card/bank names on them. It seemed that all were in use, and, depending on the type of card used by the customer, a specific machine was chosen for that transaction. I’m not sure about the reasons for doing this, or its productivity (if you know more…please let me know!) – nevertheless it was quite amusing to see so many at the same checkout.
For the regular readers of this blog, you might remember some of my previous posts about flea and thrift markets here in Romania. The draw of these places is huge – the vast array of things you can see and find is always guaranteed to be interesting: the sights, the crowds, the smell of freshly cooked langoș and mici, the sellers on their little stalls blasting Romanian music on hi-fi systems from the 90s – it’s brilliant. However, on my most recent visit, there was some ugliness to be seen as well as all the good stuff…
I was, as always, treated to some spectacular displays of jumble stalls filled with miscellaneous items. My personal favourite being a man selling a modest pile of coats, a ladies boot and a brown shoe.
Although the majority of my time spent here was pleasant and interesting, the visit took quite a sad turn when it came to looking at the animal section. Seeing animals in small cages is never nice, even when they are alone in the cage and have space to move…so seeing dogs, rabbits and birds piled on top of each other in small cages was pretty grim to witness. I saw a man buy a rabbit and proceed to put it into a plastic carrier bag to take it home, and later, a bird seller putting the birds into tiny paper bags once they’d been sold – the type of bags you’d get penny sweets in.
The most shocking thing I saw, was a group of puppies that had recently had their ears “cropped”. This procedure is banned in many countries, including Romania – it was shocking to see these poor pups with raggedly stitched up half-ears. When we asked the seller why this had been done – she said, rather defensively, that it was for their own good in order to prevent infection. Even though Romania is slowly improving its animal protection laws, it’s sad that more is not being done; the lack of animal welfare organisations and charities is astounding. Largely, the mentality regarding animal welfare here is quite behind the times and drastically needs to change.
On a recent visit to the same large supermarket that brought us the intriguing practice of “bag wrapping” – yet another rather over the top security feature has been added to the store.
A security system has been installed on the small cosmetics aisle of the shop – and only on this aisle. It seems rather odd and I have personally not come across this type of ‘aisle specific’ security measure before. The main entrance to the shop is fitted with a security system just as most shops are around the world – so you would think that this main system alone would be enough to catch thieves. Obviously this aisle is a hot spot for theft and extra measures have had to be taken!
In Oradea, a lot of shops are up a small flight of steps. During my first visit here I recall being very surprised by this; it isn’t very often that you see a shop with its own entrance steps in the UK. I’m not sure about other Romanian cities…but Oradea is absolutely brimming with shops like this. What really caught my eye regarding these steps was the fact that most retailers use this extra space to showcase their goods. It is a good idea to attract potential buyers, but in a country where theft is a primary concern to shop owners, it seems quite a daring advertising tactic. Concerns aside though, it does add a lot of colour and diversity to your average stroll down the high street.
Clothes retailers in Oradea really love their mannequins. Some shops are just full of them, inside and out. In England it is unusual to see mannequins stood outside of shop windows, but here it seems very common. What makes this especially creepy, however, is that the shop owners often stand outside of their shops too – talking on the phone, or just getting some fresh air. These instances make it hard for members of the passing public to distinguish man from mannequin, which often results in small moments of shock and embarrassment – when the ‘mannequin’ you have been staring at as you approach, suddenly starts to move or talk.
- Photos: The Mannequins Of Tehran (payvand.com)