Buying and selling in Cambodia: a constant struggle

Buying and selling in Cambodia: a constant struggle

121226 03
Ratana, 13, and his sister, Srey Pich, 6, are sitting in front of the Royal Palace. Photograph: Sovan Philong/Phnom Penh Post

Instead of persuading tourists to buy their goods, some sellers prefer to force people into buying their products.

Such activities are usually heavily criticized by tourists as they feel like they don't have any choice.

People who experienced this kind of businesses reported the following.

“I’d rather stay home if the place where I go to spend my free time is full of disturbing people,” Mr. Heng Kong, 55, says.

Both Povbopha, 25, complains about children selling goods in the street and being overly annoying.

“They always disturb us by trying to make us buying their goods,” she says. “I am also afraid that my stuff will get lost when I have them around and they ask me to buy this and that.”

Some people said they get deeply annoyed at sellers' overpoliteness. The constant: "Please Sir, please lady, buy this, please, please, please," makes them wanting to leave the shop instead of buying something.

“I do not like these kind of sellers because even after I tell them that I do not want to buy their food, not only they don't go away but they stand around and keep repeating the same phrase all over again,” says Vong Sovannarum.

VuonPanha, 20, says she is not satisfied with their marketing techniques because it becomes difficult to handle them.

“ It doesn't feel good to have someone playing tricks around me,” she says.

 But while we collected plenty of complains from buyers, we also asked people who run such businesses to tell us their opinion.

“I have to run this small business because my house was in poor condition and I don't know how to do any other work beside selling things,” says Keo Oukdom, a 15-year-old vendor.

“In order to make people buy my goods, I have to say the same things over and over again and beg for their help,” says Oukdom.

Dina, a 19-year-old vendor says that she has to ask and beg, usually with a sad face, in order to make people buying her goods. Her family is poor and she has no idea how to deal with selling goods to people.

To solve the situation, the Ministry of Tourism declared illegal any disruptive behaviors from vendors and beggars.

“We have to try our best to stop these annoying behaviours from happening," said the Under-Secretary of State at the Ministry of Tourism Hor Sarun.

“The Ministry of Tourism has cooperated with local authority to curb such problem and has started to redirect the kids who work in the street to social work departments,” says Sarun.

“But, it appears that they do not like to stay there and go right back to where they were.”

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