Is it cos I’m a woman?

Don’t you just hate feeling like you’ve been ripped off?

Before I went travelling to South America a couple of years ago, I was warned that – as a rich Western tourist – people would try to rip me off. In the end I was only aware of it once. I had booked a bus ticket which included a taxi journey part of the way. I’d paid for the journey up front, including the cost of the taxi fare. Yet when we were half way there, the taxi driver stopped and demanded I pay again. I knew he knew I’d already paid. I’m sure he knew that I knew. I tried to argue my case but, a good few miles away from where I needed to be, I really had no choice but to pay up. It rankled. It wasn’t the money that bothered me so much as the principle of it.

And that’s exactly how I feel now. I just had to get the brake pads on my bike replaced just two weeks after having it serviced – at a cost of £10 labour charge plus £8 for the brake pads. That’s on top of £250 I paid them two weeks ago for the service, which included £100 labour charges. Why exactly couldn’t they have done the work then?

Maybe I’m being overly sensitive, but I can’t help but think that it’s because I’m a woman.

Sometimes being a woman in a bike shop can be an advantage. Indeed, sometimes playing the helpless female is very useful. There’ve been a number of times when I’ve managed to get help with fixing a puncture or something like that, simply by fluttering my eyelashes at the (usually male) shop assistant.

But in this case it just feels like they assumed that – as a woman – I didn’t know enough about looking after my bike, and I wouldn’t bother to check the brake pads. And I’d have to come back to them to get them fixed. Kind of like the way that women tend to find things going wrong with their cars just weeks after getting them repaired. And you know what, they were right – I didn’t bother to check the brakes.

Maybe I’m just being paranoid. But regardless of whether it has anything to do with me being a woman, it’s still bad service. Isn’t it reasonable to expect that, two weeks after getting a full service, I won’t then need to have more work done? I can’t help but feel really bloody annoyed. Don’t you just hate being ripped off?

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