Traveling is an adventure everyone enjoys embarking on. Unfortunately, not many take the step nor enjoy the exhilaration it comes with. In my very young life, I have had the opportunity to visit some regions. In this regard, I have seen a common thread the locals follow which I term cruelty to tourists. This action to some extent affects locals visiting the region for the very first time. I want to talk about Price Gouging in this publication.
What is price gouging?
Price gouging occurs when a seller increases the prices of goods, services, or commodities to a level much higher than is considered reasonable or fair. This can similarly be termed as Profiteering.
However, price gouging takes place in certain situations and last for a short period and usually in the local area.
Price gouging is unfair to common people as they have to pay higher prices for the goods that they need the most. Taxi drivers and market vendors are mostly guilty of this act.
A month ago, I travelled to Ada Foah with some colleagues and we were confronted with this situation. Ada Foah is a town on the southeast coast of Ghana, where the Volta River meets the Atlantic Ocean. It is a town populated with Ga-Adangbe’s who are mostly into fishery and agriculture.
Upon our arrival, the taxi drivers started cheering as they felt they had caught a “big fish” simply because we spoke English. We were charged a high amount for a short distance even though we were Ghanaians. Now imagine what fate would be for a foreigner.
Similarly, in Koforidua, a driver charged twice the amount for a short distance simply because it was raining. This is sheer wickedness because it does not speak well of a good individual. I felt cheated because I was born and bred there and knew every hook and cranny of the town. This is simply ridding someone of the chance to enjoy and experience new scenery.
I am sure you must have seen this or experienced it, maybe at the airport or visiting a new place or even on your normal routine to and from work. This treacherous act is costing most taxi drivers their jobs. People prefer Bolt or Uber riding services to taxis because of their low charges.
Market vendors are also another section of people who engage in price gouging. I chanced on a video of a woman on TikTok, the Chinese-owned video-sharing platform. She was lamenting on how Ghanaian market women do not hesitate to rip her off. She explained how because of her skin color, the local women exploit her anytime she went out to purchase their products.
I have had my fair share of this experience. I bought a green tea pack for 20gh cedis only to discover it was 6gh cedis.
Let us consider the sudden disruption caused by the pandemic. The outcome caused a sudden surge in the prices of products. Market women sold gari for 25-30gh cedis which was previously selling for 7gh cedis. Alongside, hand sanitizers were selling for 50-70gh cedis which before, sold for 2gh-10gh cedis. Businesses must focus on profits and not exploitation.
Dangers Of Price Gouging
Defamation of brands:
When people sell goods or offer services at an outrageous price, they build a bad name for their brand and the manufacturer.
Such incidences ruin the image of brands that they have built over time and shoos customers away. This results in losses and the collapse of the business.
Moreover, these happenings don’t describe Ghana as it ought to be, as we are a very welcoming people. It will rather deter foreigners from visiting the country which will lead to a decrease in revenue.
Customers pay high prices
Price gouging forces customers to pay higher prices, more than intended. Like the instance I cited earlier, individuals were now paying more for sanitizers.
This means that people low on cash were at risk of contracting the virus because they could not afford the PPEs.
Charging above the standard price is unethical. Offenders can be penalized or in extreme cases imprisoned. This can lead to the termination of business or a huge potential loss.