Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Highway Robbery And Other Misdemeanours

At the risk of being accused of endless whinging, sometimes it seems as if “they” are always out to get the better of us. Whether it is the banks jacking up interest rates for borrowers by a bigger margin than for depositors, or the oil companies playing silly games with the price of petrol, it’s hard not to think that nobody cares about the plight of everyday people.

Banks are all about making money, and once upon a time they seemed to be interested in helping their customers to make money too. It’s easy enough to understand: happy prosperous customers result in a long and fruitful relationship with a happy and prosperous bank. Not any more. Now, on top of the iniquitous imposition of endless fees and charges to cover what used to be overheads, banks are now adding insult to injury by grudgingly granting interest rate increases to their depositors which are less than the increases imposed on their borrowers. The do it because they know they can, as we are a captive market dependent upon them for an essential service.

Similarly, the oil companies know that they can manipulate the price of petrol as much as they like because we are a captive market dependent upon them for en essential commodity. But that’s not all. It is becoming increasingly apparent that stocks of the more expensive premium fuels are suddenly and mysteriously in short supply on the very same days when we might expect the price cycle to be falling. It’s hard not to be cynical and suspect that this might be an organized effort to punish motorists for have the audacity to criticize the oil companies.

And here’s another example of “economic rationalism” gone mad. I heard one bloke today talking about selling his house and complaining about the real estate agent charging for advertising costs, including payment for a copywriter and a photographer. Hang on a minute, isn’t the agent supposed to be paid a commission on the sale of the house? If he’s charging up front for items which would rightly be considered overheads, just what exactly is he doing to earn his commission?

Really there ought to be a law against it!

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