I’d have loved to use the word ignorant, it would have been more sensible, but like Vlad I tend to lose control when I see some of the complaints about changes in prices following the switch to euro. Thanks to David Casa I discovered Pricewatch – a site purporting to monitor changes in prices of a number of items that are “frequently purchased”. Not a bad idea on the whole -it could be useful if used by intelligent consumers to target real abuses. A quick glance through the complaints shows that “intelligent consumer” is a dying breed.
Before I go on let me tell you about one site that is very popular with the French – one among many I hasten to add. It’s called Kelkoo (a play on the words “quel cout” or “what price”). The principle is simple. You look up a product, compare the different prices available on the market then buy from the cheapest supplier. Kelkoo is mostly limited to internet purchasing but there are other sites that do the trick for consumers.
Back to Malta. It would seem that consumers, or those who bother to use pricewatch, have not grasped the principle of consumer power. It’s not purchasing power I am talking about – that is all about he who can spend most. It’s consumer power – the right to choose the cheapest option for the same product. Pricewatch is not a site intended to tell you where the prices are cheaper. It is intended for consumers to flag abuse of the changeover. As has been repeated ad nauseam a change in price of school canteen baguettes to a rounded euro price can reflect an increase of three Maltese cents. That is not technically an abuse. The worst example is the following:
Submitted By:Renato Joseph Costigan
Date Submitted: 09/01/2008 20:35:00
Complaint:I have been buying a sliced maltese bread from a street vendor for .54euro cents (.23c), when from a bakery just 200mtrs away I buy it for .51euro cents (.22c.). The vehicle’s No. is DBJ 075. Thank You and well done for your efforts. NB:- Between 16.30 hrs and 17.00 hrs he will be around the following streets ie Pjazza 7ta’ Gunju, Barbara Street and the nearby streets.
Comments: This is a case where an item can be sold at different prices from different outlets and it gives the customers the right to shop around. The street vendor is buying it from a bakery and it stands to reason that he has to make some profit. We tried to call you to explain this issue but the tel no provided was not correct.
Full marks to Pricewatch for the answer. They were being polite. I hesitate as to whether I should go one step further. For the sake of decency let me just ask Renato Joseph (surely a trumped up name) one rhetorical question… If the street vendor sells the sliced maltese bread for 54 cents and your bakery JUST 200m away sells it for 51 cents, what is keeping you from buying your bread for 51 cents from the bakery?
Renato Joseph we do not live in the times of Price Control. Mintoff is retired and so are the socialist ideas of his government. Renato Joseph three euro cents are 1c 2mils in old money. Renato Joseph if you want to save your one cent two mils then walk the extra quarter of a mile.
There. I was polite wasn’t I?