The preparation for our Asylum and Immigration Tribunal hearing has required a certain amount of paperwork on our part which we have not really been equipped to handle - we have no photocopier, scanner or fax machine and every time we've needed to do something which required on of these pieces of equipment we've walked about a mile towards the nearby university area where there are a few 'copy shops' providing these types of services. It's been a significant inconvenience but one of the many problems of living in a one room apartment is that even if you have the money to buy things, and think the purchase worthwhile for the benefits which accrue from it, you then face the issue of where to put it. In our case, there's simply nowhere to put another piece of office equipment.
The final straw came though when we went back to the copy shop of stress last week to scan a document, and they told us that they were busy and we should go somewhere else. Literally, in those words. So much for Korean customer service. I can't say I was too sorry because watching a member of staff trying to get their network running for ten minutes to copy files across it was more than this ex-IT person could bear. Anyway, their abruptness meant that we made an immediate exit and wouldn't be going back there again, ever. Unfortunately, there was nowhere else to go. It's amazing that these copy shops can still apparently be the home to small old-fashioned printing presses which you can't possibly imagine are still used judging by their appearance, and yet something as simple as a £50/100,000 won scanner is not worth having.
So we did something we should have done a long time ago in retrospect - do some quick research and then buy printer/scanner from our local Hi-Mart, where we managed to negotiate 10% off the sticker price and get some free paper thrown in, which at least softened the blow of not buying it on-line where the prices were a little cheaper. If we'd ended up there because of a failure in Korean customer service, now we saw the flip-side to this. One of the employees not only insisted on carrying our somewhat bulky box all the way through the store and out into the car park, but when he discovered we lived close by he insisted on struggling onwards until we were in sight of our apartment building. Meanwhile, embarrassed by all this, I unsuccessfully pleaded with my wife to tell him it was OK and we could make it from here, but it was to no avail.
The employee told us that we should have asked for a little more off the price because we didn't have a car and would have to go home by taxi. This is very common when negotiating in Korean shops to purchase bulky items (possibly whether you have a car or not), but we figured it wasn't any trouble to carry it back ourselves - although this was before we discovered that Samsung's over-packaged box was about twice the size of the machine within it for some inexplicable reason.
So now we have printer/scanner - but still nowhere to put it in our 'one-room', so it sits by the side of our kitchen sink with a cover to protect it from splashes, and every time we need to use it we have to dig it out and connect it up. If we lose our case and are destined to be stuck in Korea for the foreseeable future, I hope one day we'll be able to move to an apartment where we have a little more space.
Korean tags: 가게, 사다