One adjustment that took me very little time to accept is the prevalence of package counters throughout all the malls in the Philippines. It’s not that I’d never seen them before in the States, but they are not common there. Here they are in every mall, and large stores, too. Even some smaller stores have them.
I thought it was kind of odd the first few times I encountered them way back when I visited the first time. Seemed an inconvenience to have to leave your items at a counter and wait in line to drop them, and pick them up. I understand much better now.
Initially I figured these were being used to combat theft. I don’t know how chronic a problem theft is here, but there is a lot of emphasis on deterring it, so even if it’s not a big problem, it is certainly treated as though it is. But I’ve learned that the counter isn’t just for the stores, it serves a great purpose for the shoppers.
I ride the jeepney, as most of you regular readers know by now. That means I have no vehicle to store the items that I buy, as I go to store to store. That’s also true even if you are taking the taxi. You still need to haul your goods with you. At the end of the day the amount of items I’m carrying can really add up.
The first thing I do now when entering a new store or mall, after shopping elsewhere, is find the package counter to unload my purchases. It’s a great relief to free myself of those items and start anew with my next purchases. I know very well the location of the counters in my favorite shopping destinations.
The system is simple. There is a deposit side, where they take your stuff and give you a numbered cared that corresponds to another card that they attach to your items. When picking up you go to the claim side and present your numbered card. So far I’ve not had anything missing, though I suppose there is that possibility.
It’s not all fun and games at these package counters. Sometimes the lines can be quite long. And in true Filipino style, those picking up and dropping off often ignore the fact that there is a line at all. I’ve gotten to the point if someone slaps their numbered card in front of me as I stand next at the counter that I either move it back, or move back in front of the person again. Last week one lady that had done that stared me down all the way out of the mall. I haven’t seen any signs saying “special privileges”, so I don’t figure there should be. Honestly this seems to happen almost every time there is a line at the counter.
All in all, it’s a pretty good system and very useful. I’m not sure what I’d do without the package counter. Possibly I would make less stops and need to come back another time for the rest of my purchases?
Many things are taking time to adjust to, but the package counter is one of those things that became natural almost immediately.