January 01, 2006

The great holiday rip-off

New Year's Day is called a statutory holiday here and the Government's employment and holiday legislation awards workers on those days a 50% extra on their wage, plus a day off in lieu later. With wages being so low in New Zealand this isn't such a big deal in the greater scheme of things, but some eateries, who consider themselves a cut above the rest of the fast food chains, use this law to put a surcharge of 15% of more on their normal prices for a meal out. These businesses are obviously unviable economically if they cannot absorb normal labour costs in their budget.
So this morning, passing by Occam Cafe in Grey Lynn, favoured haunt of minor soap stars and women's magazine celebrity gossip columnists, seeing their billboard with their absurd justification ("Due to Government legislation... blah blah blah") for a 15% price hike, I just laughed and marvelled at the punters who didn't mind being ripped off - their food today certainly isn't 15% better quality nor is the service, since the queues at the counter were even longer than on other days - suckers are born every day.
Other businesses running today, such as the supermarket, corner dairy, bus company and many others, don't have this surcharge and function profitably. The bus company actually surcharges by putting on a truly decrepit holiday service, which in effect is the same as a price hike.
Greed is good, capitalism says, but that doesn't mean we'll have to take it bent over.

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