I dont know how I bloody well turned it into guilt but… you know the way for years we felt abused by those who vended rip off clothes, haircuts and beauty treatments? And remember how our fiscal troubles were relieved slightly when the salons and boutiques slashed their prices, launched pre-christmas sales, offered up two-for-ones and monthly specials? We remarked how the tables had turned, how the shoe was on the other foot and some other proverbial, and more mature, way of saying HA IN YOUR FACE!

Out of nowhere, i suddenly started to feel GUILTY! I had friends in the retail/beauty and restaurant sectors and my empathetic streak (curse you empathy!) started needling me. Sure, the poor wee businessman/woman. They’re just trying to get by like the rest of us. If they lose their businesses… they could lose their homes! Oh you poor beauticians and hairdressers, you poor wee boutique owners, you designers and you jewelers… I had modern day Dickensian scenes playing out in my mind:

Them: “Awigh’ luv! These tops are two for one today only”

Me: “Sorry, peasant, I can get them cheaper somewhere else”.

Now that guilt I’m referring to isn’t sooo unjustified. Cos really they’re the little people. They’re not the Kings and Queens of the empire who have been sitting atop their money mounds. When it comes to undercutting their business, I feel no such remorse.

So today I’m flipping the bird at Sir Phillip Green (CEO of Topshop) and I encourage you all to do the same.

While in Topshop in Cork (large-ish store but doesn’t have most of the good stuff), my pulse began to race as I clocked the most fantastic pair of wedges I have ever seen in real life. I tried them on. So stylish, so eye catching! I’m so tall! I’m… one drink away from being in A&E of a Friday… And I have to have them. I glance at the price… e129. Steep… but it can be done. Then I noticed the sterling price. £85. Dear reader, I did pass maths for the leaving and I haven’t the slightest grasp of economics. But I do know that £85 ain’t 129e. Not by a long shot, Philly.

How dare shops like Topshop and other high street stores mark up their prices with these wild discrepancies in currency exchanges! You can be sure if it was the other way around, and the euro was stronger than the pound, they’d have changed all their prices overnight. The retailer at the receiving end of much of my ire is American Apparel, who haven’t adjusted their euro and pound sterling prices accordingly. And they have the gall to bang on about fair trade. (Don’t even get me started on the quality of their clothes – for that is a rant reserved for another day.)

Still, I really wanted these wedges. And my resolve was weakening.

To the internet! Where you can purchase the exact same wedges for e97 with only a e5.67 charge for delivery (at the time I ordered them). That’s still a massive saving compared to purchasing them in store. I also had my eyes on a pair of treggings that were e61 in Topshop IRL but were half that when I bought them in sterling from the web site.

And and gay as it sounds, I really feel like I’ve won a small battle as a consumer. So I’m now making it my business to never buy in store again. I’ll go in, try everything on, take my time in the changing rooms, linger in front of the mirror and then hand it all back. I’ll take note of the tags, sizing and all that, and I’ll toddle on home to use my Mastercard and my broadband connection.

I don’t want to do sales assistants out of work or anything like that. I just want to send a message. And with this message, it’s on paper that a customer in the Republic of Ireland did not buy items in store but rather from the web site. And if they start to notice profits over here taking a dive, I hope someone notices why.

Now thats quite enough crusading for today. I’m off to watch some crap foreign TV and eat a packet of jaffa cakes. I was getting a head rush there…

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