Moral of the Story: Homeplus Doesn’t Deliver
Anyone who has been living in Korea for a while know that they can get ANYTHING delivered. Internet shopping can go from start to finish within 36 hours (without any extra cost) and every meal can be delivered. Even as I write this, I am eyeing the McDelivery site and thinking that I don’t really feel like cooking that much. It’s not hard to get your groceries delivered either. I did it once for our summer camp at work last summer at E-Mart. And I had asked my co-teachers over and over again, can I get stuff delivered from the main grocery stores? And the answer was always yes.
I’d seen the vans for Homeplus EVERYWHERE. And Homeplus is my favourite grocery store without a doubt. Homeplus is owned by UK mega-chain Tesco, which means that it’s better stocked than most import stores in Itaewon for the staple foods I need. My cupboards generally look identical to how they would look in Canada: peanut butter, canned vegetables, pasta, LOTS of mushroom soup, cooking essentials, and my childhood favourite cocoa crispies. But carrying all of that home is NOT fun. For the longest time I just didn’t buy much, but when vacation hit and I had an empty kitchen, I decided it was time to go shopping.
As I went into Homeplus, I went by the customer service area, and eyed the sign. Like expected, there was a little delivery truck sign, just like in the other grocery stores I’d been to. Knowing I could get my groceries delivered, I went nuts and bought a full kitchen of stuff. A case of water, lots of canned food, everything I could need. Paid for all my goods, dragged my cart over to the customer service counter and asked “Delivery please~”
“Sorry, we don’t do delivery.”
If this had happened five years ago, I would have completely lost my temper and gone insane. Lets all me glad that didn’t happen. And here I thought I wasn’t growing up.
Anyways, I had absolutely no idea what to do. Its not like I could understand any Korean beyond what I had expected to hear. I knew how to understand “What’s your address” and “When do you want it delivered” but I didn’t understand anything that came after “I’m sorry but…” I kept looking at the sign desperately, reading it over and over. It’s not like I can ACTUALLY read, however I thought I understood enough. I thought it said it was for delivery for purchases over 20,000 won.
I’m sure at this point, anyone who is reading and is a fluent Korean reader is laughing, or they know Homeplus and know what I actually read. It wasn’t until about 20 minutes later, of me frozen in shock and having no clue what to do that an English speaking staff member named Hyojeong came to my aid and helped me in so many wonderful ways. It turns out the sign said “If we have delivered something incorrectly, we will give you 20,000 won” from their online delivery service. Whoops.
You may be wondering, why didn’t I just take a taxi? The gentleman helping me asked me the same thing, and I attempted to explain to him, I only lived about half a kilometre down the road. No taxi would ever take me, because I wouldn’t even go through half of the base fare. Maybe there would be someone kind and generous to help me, however I didn’t even know how to begin to explain to a cab driver that I only needed to be taken around the corner because I was an idiot and bought more canned and bottled goods than even a horse could carry.
The entire time this was happening (it felt like forever) I kept thinking to myself that this was entirely my fault. Which it was. If only I had stuck with the Korean lessons I had been doing my first year here. If only I could study by myself. If only I had made Korean friends while living in Korea, perhaps I wouldn’t be in this stupid situation. I’ve had moments of self loathing when it comes to my lack of language ability before, but never have I hated myself and my lack of Korean more than I did in that moment. That might have been the reason why I didn’t get upset or angry at anyone when I was in the store: I was too upset at myself for making such a stupid mistake after two years of living here. I just stood there at customer service, fighting back tears over my own stupidity.
Eventually, we did get all my purchases home. The staff went above and beyond the call of duty to help me get my goods back home, though I’m not going to get into details. However, let it be known I said thank you about ten million times.
If I’m so embarrassed about what happened to me, why am I writing about it now? To be honest, I don’t know. But I have three guesses.
- I’m very thankful to the people of Homeplus in Jungdong, Bucheon. I’d like other people to know that they were very helpful and they should use that store.
- In hindsight, it might be funny. Maybe.
- Sometimes it’s good to remember that even though people can live in a country for two years, language struggles happen daily, even after years.
Languages are hard, and don’t happen in a day. I’ve lived in Korea, and I haven’t worked as hard as I should have, perhaps. But it was a great reminder that languages take time and they take ENCOURAGEMENT. Because these people helped me, it made me want to work harder. When I’m made to feel stupid by other people, I don’t want to learn it. So to all of those who do live and work in areas where there might be people who are battling their own language problems, remember that it is the simple mistakes that can hurt people’s pride the most, and your own caring and patience can be what helps them get through it with their pride intact.