Sometimes being a journo is great - interviewing fascinating people and learning new stuff everyday, not to mention press trips, samples and other freebies.
At other times, it's not so great. In fact, today I feel like a squashed cabbage leaf.
My colleague and I were invited to a media event at a local shopping city, where we could create our own Christmas teddy bear. Thinking that it would be a nice excuse to escape the office December doldrums for an hour or two and do something fun, we went along. What wasn't stated in the invitation was the fact that the basic empty soft toy shell was the only bit that was free - all (ridiculously overpriced) accessories were for our own account.
After choosing a soundchip for our bears, and having them stuffed and fluffed, we were taken to the accessories shelves by over-enthusiastic helpers who urged us to pick shoes, sunglasses, cutesy outfits and any other bear-sized item we desired. "Oh no - you must take the raincoat too!" they'd gush, marvelling at our precious creations. "And what about a little backpack? It doesn't look complete without it."
It was only when we were directed to the front counter to pick up our bear's birth certificate that we found out we would be paying for these. My little bear, wearing a cricket uniform and sunglasses, plus the can't-do-without-them shoes, came to just over R400. For those of you who aren't from my part of the world, that's about US$60-odd, 40-something euros or 1,770,505 Zimbabwean dollars. In my books, that's an expensive outing!
And I'm not the only idiot that fell for it. We all left vowing not to ever write about the place (except bitching about it on our bogs, of course) and not to recommend it, which, I imagine, is not exactly the press impression a store wants, is it?