Dear Centaurus Mall, forcing single males to pay a non-refundable fee of Rs500 is elitist and offensive

Published: September 12, 2017
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In 2015, Centaurus imposed a Rs100 entry fee for certain classes of people.

Centaurus Mall has once again fired shots at the lowly invaders of its ‘family-oriented’ atmosphere. I fear this will only get worse.

Frustrated social media users have posted images of Rs500 entry tickets to Centaurus, applicable only to single male visitors. Unlike older entry coupons, these tickets are neither refundable nor adjustable with purchases inside the mall.

#Boycott #Centaurus_MallAbsolutely ridiculous! Centaurus used to charge 300 previously which was adjustable. They're…

Posted by Islamabad~~~Rain~~~Music~~~Walk~~~Perfect Combination on Tuesday, September 5, 2017

It appears that the management of Centaurus has done nothing that is not within the class-warfare guidelines of Islamabad – the face of Pakistan’s elite exclusivism. This is a city, after all, whose well-fed citizens bemoaned the loss of an ice cream shack that violated the Capital Development Authority’s (CDA) regulation, but justified the destruction of I-11 slums that left thousands of poor people homeless. The law is the law, unless it interrupts the upper class’s milkshake supply.

In 2015, Centaurus imposed a Rs100 entry fee for certain classes of people. Exempted from the fee were high-ranking government officials, armed forces personnel, members of upper class watering holes like the Islamabad Club, “famous” athletes, and other celebrities. This was eventually raised to a Rs300 entry coupon, which at the very least could be redeemed inside with mall purchases.

Doctors are exempted from the fee as well. On occasion, I personally have been able to avoid purchasing the entry coupon by showing my Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) card at the entrance. Yes, I am a single male visitor as well, but supposedly of a higher class of single males that is better welcomed at Centaurus than the average Pindi boy.

What we have now is an entry ticket that surpasses ‘offensive’ and borders on ‘ridiculous’. Centaurus is not the alpha and the omega of Pakistan’s commercial scene and the pretence is rather baffling. There are other malls and markets in Islamabad – they are all secure, conveniently accessible, lighter shopping centres and they work just as well. To force single male visitors to pay a non-adjustable and non-refundable fee of Rs500 at the entrance is not just politically incorrect, it is a bad business practice.

Would I, as a single male writer, pay Rs500 at the Centaurus entrance just to go in and enjoy a Rs400 cup of coffee?

No.

Sadly, I am not paid enough to justify that cost. Sometimes, I do not have the right documentation to flaunt my doctor-privilege at the shopping mall. One wonders if there are rich shoppers demonstrating their degrees and fancy job titles at the entrance of Packages Mall in Lahore.

After all, if a woman gets gawked at by a single male in Centaurus’s ‘family-oriented’ atmosphere, that creep better have a medical diploma or an Islamabad club membership. Misogyny is misogyny, only when the lower classes get involved.

Perhaps the management at Centaurus considers a fair price for its class control. Surely, none of that high-octane brainpower is going into fixing the mall’s glaring accessibility issues; the long lines at the elevators that pack sweaty customers like refugee boats from the basement parking to the mall above. In addition, if you are struck by falling glass on a stormy evening, then well, who says quality and safety have to go hand in hand anyway?

It is no surprise that we live in a world that favours the rich. Nevertheless, it is appalling when that prejudice does not even attempt to be subtle, when it looks you in the eye and demands that you pay Rs500 to inhale the same air as the upper class. It is atrocious when the elite choose to reinforce class divisions by citing security and using the tired trope of protecting our women from their men.

It is our moral duty to condemn these class control tactics, but there is more – we must condemn the very system that tolerates these artificial divisions.

Faraz Talat

Faraz Talat

A medical doctor and bubble-wrap enthusiast from Rawalpindi, who writes mostly about science and social politics (and bubble-wrap). He tweets @FarazTalat (twitter.com/FarazTalat)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Waleed Farukh

    ever heard of “Right of admission reserved”?
    stop whiningRecommend

  • Keyboard Soldier

    It will discourage paindo village boys from entering this place. People who actually have the money to spend in these shops support this move.Recommend

  • umar

    I fully support Centaurus’s policy. The problem lies with the people who have no values, are rowdy and make families uncomfortable. Why not write an article about how to make these uncivilized people civilized for a change.Recommend

  • Muhammad Junaid Jamshaid

    People who have money wont waste Rs 500 on their crapRecommend

  • Ali

    Good read..Recommend

  • Keyboard Soldier

    Oh bhai, it’s a barrier, though racist one, to keep away low class cheap crowd from local Pindi area.

    Now, whether people who have money spend it or not, regardless of the door fees is irrelevant.Recommend

  • Notindian

    Paindu village boys should do the same. Only the people who can grow crops should be allowed to eat.
    Shame on you and your thinking.Recommend

  • Humza

    I am a typical paindo village boy and I take exception to your generalization. Most of us village boys as you describe us tend to be simple, hard working folk with respect for elders and institutions. It is the spoiled rich brats from cities that you should be worrying about. Tell me how often do village boys engage in the type of behavior you find questionable? I can assure you, most instances are from spoiled “Burger kids”. There has to be a better way of policing behavior than just slapping on a 500 rupee entrance surcharge.Recommend

  • Ahmar

    Personally I would not go into a mall that only charged me while not charging single women or men from the elite class.

    However I am not shocked at the gender discrimination. I have seen plenty of examples of this in our society. I am surprised however that ET allowed this blog to be published.Recommend

  • Ahmar

    Yes. We have heard of restricting the right of admission. It was practiced against the Negros in the USA, Jews in Germany and Blacks in South Africa. Such great examples.Recommend

  • Humza

    Right of admission reserved is one thing but to deny a large chunk of the population our inalienable right to enter and move about freely would be unconstitutional, especially when we are majority of the Pakistani population. If someone were to say to me that I would be denied access to a particular shopping mall on the basis of my origins from my village in rural Pakistan, I would be offended and I would even consider legal action. On the other hand, if a venue like the shopping mall is crowded and there is a safety issue, particularly with large gangs of youngsters, the management would be in its purview to stop further admissions. It depends on the situation and how it is presented. Malls in other parts of the world have had problems with the legality of selectively denying admissions so we are treading on delicate ground. I have been to Centaurus Mall on several occasions and I have not been denied admission to this point but I will have to wait and see how things evolve.Recommend

  • SHAH S

    All property owners have the birth right to impose “Rights of Admission Reserved”; this even include shops, restaurants, hotels, cafes, play areas, parks, business houses, offices etc; So, what is the hue and cry about ?? Some may impose dress code conditions and some apply non-ref admission fees charges… In Dubai some 5 and 7 star hotels apply AED500 admission charges per person and issue a coupon ticket valid for that date of entry only, and this coupons ticket then can be used in coffee shops or hotel rooms charges within that date only. This prevents jay walkers, street walkers and sundry crowd entering for a joy visit … So, it is good Centaurus Mall imposed this fee… actually it should be redeemable in food court or shops if the visitor wants to utilize his visit;Recommend

  • Salman Raheel

    Thank you for highlighting an issue, which many, not only fail to acknowledge, but support wholeheartedly out of their ignorance and feeble understanding of the “policy at hand”. Let me begin by saying that this discriminatory policy doesn’t just target a single man. Let’s just say, if a man goes to Centaurus with his 14 year old son to get him an ice cream or anything else, they both will be required to pay 1000 Rs as an entree fee. I understand that this non refundable fee was only for special days, but it never rules out the extremely discriminatory and highly unjustifiable nature of the so-called “family oriented ” policy.
    According to Centaurus, 2 girls hanging out implies that they are a family, but a father and son, along with other male relatives aren’t a family unless they are accompanied by a woman. Let me further explain that this goes beyond “Pindi Boys” and their antics at the mall, rather its more to do with class distinction. If regulating ‘friendly environment’ is the key then that is the most absurd approach to get around it.
    Fortunately, peoples response to such a disgusting overture has been quite heart warming and can be calculated from the fact that within few days Centarus malls official facebook page received a sharp decline in it’s ratings.Recommend

  • Waleed Farukh

    Business institutions have the right to cater only their targeted consumers. They way I see it this strategy is designed to enhance the experience of actual consumers by giving them the best environment. People are not being kept away based on their gender,race or religion here or even their urban or rural domicile. What you are referring to is completely irrelevant.Recommend

  • tee

    If you do not want paindo boys to act in paindo way…teach them your way by letting them in…this way they will see you and learn how to act in “Non-paindo way”…rather than blocking them…
    if your intentions are pure…then teach them…rather loathe them….be a practical exampleRecommend

  • Zain ul Abidin

    This mall is so poorly built, at peak hours it takes minimum 30min to get out of the mall to the parking. There are no stairs and lifts are not enough. I dont know why they feel so priveleged. There are better malls than Centaurus in islamabad.Recommend

  • Ahmar

    Are all consumers required to pay the same fees at Centaurus entry? If it is a fees that only males (and specifically males without female companions) are required to pay than it is nothing but discrimination based on gender.

    If doctors, armed service officers, government officials etc are exempted from this fees, as the author claims, then it is based on class as well.

    What you are saying is, businesses should have a right to discriminate. Fine. But at least be willing to admit that they are practicing discrimination. You are altogether denying any foul play to begin with?Recommend

  • Ahmar

    I couldn’t agree more. In all instances I have seen, it is the village boys that I find the easiest to control, rebuke for misbehavior and bring into line. It is usually the richer, spoiled brats that are the most rowdy.Recommend

  • The Centaurus Mall

    The Centaurus management has already issued a disclaimer on this issue. Same is here for your read please.

    The Centaurus Mall has been the pioneer for the mall industry in Punjab and till date is the largest Mall of its kind in Islamabad visited by all segments, tiers and age brackets of the society. Furthermore it has contributed significantly to the economy by paying millions of rupees in taxes, providing opportunities to hundreds of new businesses to operate within the market and creating thousands of jobs within the economy. The mall has always provided its customers with the most superior and inviting environment for shopping and entertainment whilst also enduring to ensure their comfort level to the highest standards.

    Based on past experiences the hundreds and thousands of families that have been visiting the mall on a regular basis had requested to introduce a mechanism which would control the influx of young students and bachelors who have been creating nuisance for them during their visits. Over a period of time, it was not only observed but also reported by the customers that all those young speculators who would visit the Centaurus without families would usually create some kind of discomfort for the genuine shoppers. In order to curtail this tendency and discourage such visitors especially on important occasions such as Eid, New Years or national holidays an entry coupon was introduced for an amount of Rs 500.00 which is non-refundable in order to prevent loitering and unwanted activities. This practice was being implemented during the Eid holidays and as of the 6th of September The Centaurus Management has reverted back to the normal practice.

    The Centaurus management consists of people from various walks of life who never discriminate against anyone irrespective of their age, race, gender, ethnicity or religion. To the management the customers are their first priority and the customer centric policies have been devised around enhancing the overall shopping experience within the mall.Recommend

  • Shuja Rehman

    You people actually don’t deserve to have such state-of-art facilities and malls. You people forget while commenting that Centaurus mall has pioneered the changed the life style of people of twin cities. It is open for all, and any one can come and do shopping. This is not raja bazar or Chandni chowk. At least do some justice yar. Here families come and relax. How can management of mall bear if they get large number of complaints from families about the single males taking their photographs….don’t comment here…go and ask your mother, your sister and your wife, how do they feel if any such thing happens with them. Will they go to such mall again?Recommend

  • Waleed Farukh

    please be informed what you are perceiving as class are actually professions. People in these profession can come from any race,religion or domicile.
    And the fact that now you have backtracked from your earlier comment in which you mentioned discrimination based on race and religion. My point stands validatedRecommend

  • Afsar Malik

    I stand with the Centaurus policies. Why not to create awareness amongst people on how to behave in shopping malls? why not to write about rogue behaviours of such boys? why it has become physchy of every pakistani to stand with negativity? instead of supporting management decision which must be taken on the requests of families, everyone starts commenting negative? Grow up plz!Recommend

  • Afsar Malik

    I stand with the Centaurus policies. Why not to create awareness amongst people on how to behave in shopping malls? why not to write about rogue behaviours of such boys? why it has become physchy of every pakistani to stand with negativity? instead of supporting management decision which must be taken on the requests of families, everyone starts commenting negative?Recommend

  • Umair Babar

    I observed it personally at my recent visit at Centaurus a day before. I think the management has taken 100% right decision by implementing such policy. Centaurus is the only place where i bring my family. but since last few years, the environment of mall was suffering due to such people. Good initiative centaurus management.Recommend

  • Hamza Ali

    The only beautiful mall of Islamabad!Recommend

  • Patwari

    “…I have been to Centaurus Mall….not denied admission…” Were you alone?
    Were you wearing a Burqa? A Chador? Which inalienable rights? To move
    about freely? Unconstitutional? Where did you pick up these fancy words?
    From an American crime drama TV series? Kramer vs Kramer? CSI Miami?
    Where exactly are these rights mentioned In Pakland’s constitution? You read it?
    Where Nawaz Sharif’s thugs threatened the Supreme Court’s justices with dire
    consequences. Where extremists live in college hostels for 8 or 9 years!
    In a country where policemen, will stop a car with a man and woman riding
    alone in it and demand to see the marriage license or proof that they are husband/wife. If not then they are in deep trouble…like Rs. 2000/3000
    Forget it if your sister is with you. Or giving a female classmate a ride home.
    And here you are discussing “inalienable rights” ! When your leaders like Nawaz
    flaunt the laws of the land…you are debating ‘unconstitutional’ acts, venues.
    Now that is rich.
    Let’s not compare with West. Pak is a conservative country dominated by Sunni
    Wahabi stream of thought. Where mullas, including the Grand Mufti says it’s OK to beat your wife “lightly”. Where another mulla said the World does not revolves on it axis. Another one declared it’s unislamic for little kids to build snowmen!
    From the looks of it the Mall is protecting it’s base customers. However illegally
    it is done. The consumers, who buy. it’s called sales demographics.
    There is a long long way to ‘inalienable rights’.Recommend

  • Naveed Nabi

    The only beautiful mall in islamabadRecommend

  • Patwari

    “Spoiled rich brats” you just shot down your own argument. Are you
    biased towards rich boys? Burger Kids? Well to do kids?
    Now villages? Paindo boys? Let’s see, villages where they have panchayats?
    Who can order gang rape of a 14 year old girl. Or order the murder of a 16
    year old girl and a 17 year old boy by electrocution. They were both tied down
    to beds and live wires used to kill them!! Why? Because they fell in love, ran
    away and got married. And all of these villagers did what the panchayat ordered.
    They did not have the moral compass or the common decency to refuse the panchayat. They gladly, gleefully obliged. That’s worse than animals.
    Remember Mukhtaran Mai? All her rapists were set free.
    So you are a paindo village boy. And if the panchayat tells you, whatever, you
    will do it.
    Are you for real?Recommend

  • Patwari

    Bashing “elites” indiscriminately.
    Without reason or logic. Just hate.
    Remember all these ‘smug self serving elites’ and ‘urban
    middle class’ were at one time simple people with limited
    means. Who picked themselves by their bootsraps, worked
    hard, studied hard, strived to excel, got an education and
    pursued their goals. Plus sacrifices. They succeeded in
    their endeavors. Wheather in govt. service or business or
    whatever profession they chose. They are engines of good
    economic power. Nothing is free. Hardwork , hardwork, hardwork.
    They are your industrialists, your diplomats, your surgeons,
    your cardiologists, your doctors, your boutique owners, your
    pilots, your local supermarket owners, your restaurant owners,
    your professors, your tv station owners ………you understand?
    You can lump them together and revile them as “accented English
    speaking Bollywood elites” It shows your deep deep bias.
    Only in the Midwest, USA, do they speak English without an accent.
    Otherwise everyone speaks English with an accent. Everyone.
    In Hindia/Pak they speak with a British/Scottish/Welsh accent.
    Without these elites, small time or big time, the country will come to
    a grinding halt. And you would be living on corn, bajra, and channa dal
    Recommend

  • Humza

    In India , city or village , the number of crimes carried out against women including rapes dwarfs anything in Pakistan’s villages. I am glad that you have to look back to 2002 or 15 years to find an example of a Mukhtaran Mai ( who by the way is doing excellent work in the social sector) to prove your argument. Think about it, in a country of over 200 million, you are so hard pressed to find instances to prove your argument. Not for a moment do I dispute that injustice doesn’t take place in the cities or villages of Pakistan but as a Paindo village boy I am very proud of the fact that our centuries old sense of decency, value and culture allows us to compete with anyone, anywhere in the world. In my village there is no functioning panchayat or jirga but generally, the decisions made by them in the past were just and fair. We don’t follow things blindly because in Pakistan there is no caste that has a monopoly on justice like in your India. Just like you can have a aberrant judge or court that makes mistakes, a village council can also make mistakes. As for the couple who were executed in Karachi for eloping, justice should be served but unlike you, I do not jump up and down with satisfaction at another example of depravity. I see it as an illness that needs to be fixed because I believe in this country- like most Paindoos.Recommend

  • Humza

    People like you need to understand that Pakistan has a constitution and laws- not just the West. Our people and this country can be what we make of it. Things like inalienable rights and freedoms including religious freedoms are part and parcel of being a citizen in an ideal Pakistan. Wade through the tome Fundamental Law of Pakistan printed in 1958.Citizens are given rights and unlike you, I believe in working for a better Pakistan. You can complain and try to portray the negativity against Pakistan to support your Indian homeland but that will not stop people like me who believe in making a better future for our own people – of all ethnicities, classes, faiths, rural / urban divides and economic backgrounds. You long winded tirades against Pakistanis only show a deep seated malaise.Recommend

  • Ahmar

    You did not answer my question, “Are all consumers required to pay the same fees at Centaurus entry?”

    The kind of discrimination against lower middle class and poor men in this country is equivalent to the treatment that racially segregated blacks faced in the USA.

    Of course businesses don’t want to be seen as outright banning lower class men. So they do it in a round-about way by charging the lower class people an entry-fees while allowing the higher class free entry. Is anyone fooled by this?Recommend

  • Ahmar

    I faced a similar situation at LuckyOne Mall in Karachi when it opened up recently. Entry for males unaccompanied by females was outright denied. However, rich and influential people in SUVs were allowed to go in, right in front of our eyes.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Surely there must be other places in Islamabad where the good
    citizens can go. Alone or with their families. Never mind the ‘alleged’
    discrimination. Since the whole story, both sides, is not evident here.
    Very sure the Centaurus Mall has it’s reasons. That will hold up in court.
    However, in Lahore, Ahmadis, are not allowed to shop or buy groceries
    in some run of the mill, two bit, sleazy bazaars. What would you call that?
    It is besides the point to mention, that there are excellent places, that sell
    tea at prices that will fit any budget.
    Centauraus Mall is simply beyond the pay grade of the blog writer.
    Since a cup of tea there costs Rs. 400. that’s roughly $ 4 dollars,
    about what you would pay at The May Fair, or The Mondrian, or the
    The Hilton, in London.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Comment was mutilated badly by Nawaz’s supporters at the
    Hindustani rag,,.. ET.Recommend