January 31, 2017
On a stand of a state agricultural market whoseh name I consider irrelevant to say, because the violation becoming a trend is more worrying than the name of the place where the seller managed to make the tray of the balance «part of» the portion of the good weighted.
The body and plate are a unique piece of the scale. When the tray—the container where goods are computed— is free of goods, the weight marked on the scale, with the plate above, should be 00.00 kilograms (those scales available in the new «mega-markets» show the measure in kilograms.)
So, 00.00 kilograms (kg) is the faithful measure. In the case in question, this did not happen. Without its empty container on top, the scale was showing 00.00 kg. How can this irregularity be introduced? I don´t know. However, it happened. It was in front of me. Evidence? My integrity as a professional and my dignity as a citizen.
The «thing» began to call the attention when the seller never placed the tray, being unoccupied, on the scale. To check my suspicions, from the same place where I was, I could see that on another stand the weight was measuring perfectly, with the empty tray on the blackboard marking the correct 00, 00 kg.
Thus, in my turn to buy I demanded the seller —in an educated, but firm way— to place the empty tray on the scale. He showed his resistance and gave his explanation, also discreetly; but he complied with my request.
Surprise: with the empty try on top, the scale marked little more than 00, 500 kg. Then I demanded (always politely, but with determination) to calibrate the scale. And done, he pressed a button and the faithful 00.00 kg took its place with the free tray above. From that moment on, whenever the seller took the tray out, the scale marked -500 grams and something else.
First conclusion: The tray itself weighs about half a kilogram.
Second: In each act of weighing, the seller had been increasing the weight to all products by more than one pound.
Each customer in front of me took advantage of several products at one time, because the market was well stocked. And, of course, products are weighed by variety: taro, sweet potato, pumpkin, different variety of banana, cabbage, pineapple, chili, onion, carrot, beet, eggplant. There was everything, and at a good price compared to non-state market. In front of me there were people who bought almost everything that was offered, some a little of everything; others, quite a few...
I have sometimes listened to criticism of journalists because they publish problematic experiences of which they are victims. Those of us who work as journalists are obliged to be very careful, very ethical, regarding what we say in the media, because of its great reach. However, the experience of life is the beginning of the knowledge of people´s reality, and when this concerns many others, we are obliged to make public these experiences.
In the state agricultural market where I made my purchases there were more than a hundred consumers, and on the stand where I was buying, there were nearly eight people before me, mostly elderly and women.
After talking to the seller, requesting him courteously but with a push, and urging him not to repeat the «mistreatment, » I warned about what was happening —always with good manners— to who introduced himself to me as in charge of the market in that time, and before whom I confirmed myself as reporter from Juventud Rebelde.
As we talked about the matter, the person in charge repeatedly asked me to tell him who was committing the violation. I explained that what was important was not the punctual fact, but perhaps the same thing could be happening on other stands. I told him that «what´s really important is to take the appropriate measures to put an end to the situation and prevent it from repeating itself. »
So, no matter the name of the market. I hope that those who are in charge of these kind of markets in Havana, will take note for sure. However, whenever you go to buy to these agricultural markets, make sure that the empty tray is placed in the scale, and the digital board marks 00, 00 kg, and that when it is remove to load some goods, the electronic board of the equipment fall to -500 grams and something more.
In addition, demand that the board stay in front of the customer, not sideways or that the bulk of products prevents you to take a good look. The seller should have it where it is easier to manipulate and visualize the computation; but you also have the right. You have to look for the balance point on either side of the counter.
One last recommendation. Claim your rights and report violations. Just do it with education, courtesy and arguments. Do not provoke or be provoked. Don´t lose your temper to avoid becoming the victim.
Large agricultural markets are reopening in Havana. Those places have been repaired and have better equipment, they sell at prices far more bearable than those applied by non-state markets and street vendors.
«Mega markets» are the fruit of a tremendous effort of all. Of those who lead, but also of those who consume. They are the summary of experiences and demands. They represent the opportunity to end the errors and negative trends that have historically affected this vital framework for supplying the population.
In addition to the visualization, mega markets offer comfort for consumers and employees of these markets. They are also being very well stocked, having quality and variety. The current season of the year, when the winter crop is beginning to be seen neatly, is giving them even more favors, though we are waiting for the arrival of the potato...
According to my experience in direct or indirect journalistic coverage of agricultural issues, I believe this will be an excellent season for the sector, because the weather has been good; and on the other hand, policies aimed at increasing production and favoring the needs and claims of producers are already matured.
The «megas» have emerged from efforts of all kinds. So, it cannot be afford, nor can we allow the reappearance of the old evils that have affected the agricultural retail trade.
Cuba applies the units of international measurement, like meter (for distance), liter (for volume), kilogram (for weight.) However, the application and understanding of these also go through the cultural background.
In the shops, when you buy chicken, it´s measured and paid in kilograms. However, quantity and price are expressed in pounds in those groceries in Cuba named bodegas and at the agricultural market.
The new digital balances in the «mega» are expressed in kilograms; but the price is determined per pound. I consider that duality does not contribute to the consumer protection. How many grams are included exactly in one pound?
I believe that the weighing in kilograms and the price in pounds neither helps to protect the consumer nor shorten the time of buying. I think it should be practical and convenient to set prices in kilograms (one thousand grams) or half a kilogram (500.)
I believe that the only limitation of not expressing the price in pounds is symbolic. Because the people cannot perceive at first glance that prices in the state agricultural markets are declining ostensibly, as in fact is happening. And, that can be solved. The Cuban population is very well educated, and, not to mention, regarding prices ....
Translated by ESTI