I have a strange quandary going on. It's a small thing, but so strange, and I'm not sure how to proceed.
Any opinions would be welcome.
I write about my daughter a lot. She has autism, and she's a funny kid. One of her funny habits is finding obscure foreign cartoons on the internet. Once she develops a good frothy obsession with the characters, she goes trolling for toys. Because she's a Google genius, she inevitably finds them.
Her latest favorite is called Dibo the Gift Dragon. He's Korean, and has a whole slew of friends from Cozyland. I believe they translate Dibo into English for the Australian market. Sometimes Ellie watches it in Korean, sometimes English. It all seems the same to her, as far as I can tell.
Ellie doesn't often request specific things, but she has been asking for months for Dibo the Gift Dragon toys. I discovered that they only sell these toys in Asia. I also discovered that there was some kind of manufacturing glitch, and they were hard to find even in Asia. They go on Ebay for something like $60, plus shipping.
Finally, knowing that Christmas is coming up fast, and knowing that shipping will take a good long time, I take the initiative to find Dibo toys at a reasonable price. They are sold by a company in Malaysia. The toys are reasonable, the shipping is US $175. Ouch.
Determined as only the mother of an autistic child can be, I write to this company, asking if some alternative can be reached, as I don't need the toys quickly.
I receive a quick, nice, polite reply from a gentleman named Edwin. He says he's going to help me find a good alternative. I'm a little nervous ordering from overseas like this, but I've done it before (Pororo, the little Korean Penguin...) and it turned out fine.
Coincidentally, my sig line on my email is a link to Ellie's website. It's been there for a long time and I forget it's there most of the time.
Turns out Edwin is a very kind and curious type, and when he writes me back he says that he's visited Ellie's website and he is sorry that she has autism and wishes to make a gift to her. He says that he'd like to personally buy her one of the toys I've ordered, and says that even though it might not seem like much, he doesn't make a lot of money and it's expensive to live in Malaysia.
I don't think he is trying to elicit sympathy, I think he was trying to show that he's a generous man. This is already clear from his kind offer.
Now, in America, I would say, "You're very kind, but I wouldn't hear of it, please, it's enough of a gift that you visited her website and got us a good deal on shipping," but having lived in Third World countries before, I realize that this could be interpreted as being very rude, and I don't want to insult Edwin. Nor do I want him to spend his hard earned money on my daughter, who is well cared for.
My only thought is to reply with a gift in kind, which is the usual procedure in gift giving cultures. How am I supposed to do that? I wrote him a note saying how generous and kind he is, and that I would like to respond with a gift. I asked if he gets any commission, then I could just buy more stuff and perhaps we could consider that a gift, but a) I don't think he gets a commission on internet sales and b) it seems like a pretty lame gift.