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Not so fast

CAROL MARTINDALE, [email protected]

Not so fast

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As far as Barbadians are concerned, price-gouging is alive and well in Barbados.
The majority of those who contacted the SATURDAY?SUN yesterday related how the prices of various items had increased within the last several months.
They called the names of the offending supermarkets and wholesalers, too. They told of prices being adjusted, seemingly willy nilly, rather than based on any arithmetical calculation.However, not everyone who called or emailed thought price-gouging was going on. One of them was consumer advocate Malcolm Gibbs-Taitt, who said: “I do not think that price-gouging is responsible for the price increases in supermarkets and stores.”
He advised that before such charges could be levelled, one first had to get to the sources from where commodities were bought and note the price of each item.“These people are making the same mistake that some pander to, by confusing the greed of some unscrupulous merchants and, hence, the profiteering attitudes that are prevalent, and confusing these with an aspect of trade – price-gouging – which is legitimate and different from normal trading practices, once any excesses are removed,” said Gibbs-Taitt, the president general of the Barbados Consumers Research Organisation.
“Yes, price-gouging is a legitimate behaviour in business. It is basically a quick fix during an emergency such as a natural disaster. It deals with normal trading behaviours known as supply and demand.
“When the emergency ceases normal pricing resumes and, in some instances, the consumer benefits, since prices may be fixed artificially lower than normal to encourage trade in items no longer in demand.”
Gibbs-Taitt called on businesses to say what methodology was used to arrive at the prices they charged end-users or consumers.