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Price disparity: What would you do?

December 5, 2008

I had my usual chee cheong fun breakfast today. As usual, the price was $4.00. It used to be $3.50 before the first gasoline price hike. The hawker then explained they had no choice because the price of their raw materials had gone up. Perfectly understandable.

So today I asked him in my broken mandarin: “Uncle, the gasoline prices have been down for a while now. Why is it still $4.00?

His answer: “Aiyah, $4.00 already cheap lah!”

I didn’t ask him its cheap compared to what but hey, the man has to make a living so I ponied up without a retort.

Of course we can choose to walk away from hawkers who keep their prices up while prices are falling elsewhere, which would mean we’ll effectively ban ourselves from eating out because none of the hawkers have brought their prices down one cent. Sometimes I think they’d rather go out of business than bring prices down.

So my question is, is there anything you can do other than boycotting restaurants to force hawker prices down?

Who really controls prices as far as these hawkers go anyway?

If its not the hawker, is it their middleman (supplier) of raw materials who’s not passing on the price reduction?

Or is it the source i.e. the planter or livestock producer who’s not passing the reduction to the middleman?

And even if the source and middemen did reduce their prices, how sure are we that the hawkers won’t quietly pocket the extra profit while telling us its not their fault?

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. December 5, 2008 9:29 am

    Totally agree with you. I think my char koay teow seller has raised his prices twice but is yet to bring it down if ever!

    and sometimes they bring down the price and reduce the portion..

  2. LC Teh permalink
    December 5, 2008 5:43 pm

    If you are a regular at a certain shop, start to ‘ta pau’ your breakfast from somewhere else, but only order coffee (or other drinks) from the shop. Organise with other regular customers to do the same. Stop ordering from the hawkers until they get the message.

    Yeah that might work, provided they don’t impose a “no outside food” policy.

  3. LC Teh permalink
    December 9, 2008 10:50 am

    Most shop owners rent out space to the hawkers. As long as customers order coffee or some foodstuff from the shop they don’t care if you don’t order from the hawkers.

    True. Gotta keep the boss happy eh. 🙂

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