As a consumer, I am concerned by the ever-increasing cost of living. It is no surprise to anyone that the cost of living has had a major impact on most people’s purse strings. It has impacted the quality of life for many.
The cost of food shopping, petrol and other essential services has gone through the roof. It is quite gutting to find that your favourite purchases do not give you the same bang for your dollar anymore.
Rising prices have made balancing budgets a real struggle for many, and it is no surprise that too often after making all the cuts necessary elsewhere, it can still be a struggle. This must be especially difficult for those on fixed incomes and low pay.
Price increases seemed to be at the whim of those providing goods and services. It is difficult at times to establish the reason for some of these price hikes, as some are so substantial. There appears to be no rhyme or rhythm as some prices seem hard to justify.
Are the price rises due to the lack of meaningful competition? Are they a result of badly managed companies with poor working practices? Are such companies playing catchup for their poor performance and hence, these unjust price hikes? Are consumers seen as timid, disengaged and ripe to be taken advantage of? Or is it pure greed by those providing goods and services? What are the regulators doing to bring about a fairer and open market to rein in some of these prices? Are the regulators’ remits fit for purpose?
I appreciate the fact we are very dependent on many imported goods and some services which can be costly. The cost of the products, inclusive of local taxes, transport etc., must be passed on to the consumers. My concern would be if we are not doing enough locally to contain some of these costs.
Again, I wonder if some private and public concerns, especially those operating in a monopolistic environment, are increasing their prices way above the costs incurred. Are markups/overheads reasonable? I am not against a return on capital employed, but surely if it is excessive, it will eventually kill the goose that lays the golden egg.
In so far as the public sector (state-owned enterprises) and government departments – the drivers of much of the unnecessarily high costs – there must be a more determined, genuine and robust drive to bring about the radical reforms necessary for greater efficiency. Well-structured reforms can be a win-win for employees, consumers and taxpayers and will help to bring the cost of living down. Structural reforms work, but they must be well managed. I have some practical experience of this happening — a very large public monopoly transformed into a result-driven, very successful sought-after blue-chip
There must be the drive to phase out outdated bureaucratic systems and practices that are negatively impacting the cost of doing business and contributing to the high cost of living. There is too much focus on short-term fixes. Surely, where there are investments in higher productivity and efficiency, the attendant growth and quality outcomes will bring about significant improvements through cost savings. Businesses will be able to achieve better returns on their investments. Some of the efficiency gains can be passed on through lower prices to customers.
Regrettably, the price hikes are all happening while one is experiencing a noticeable decline in the good quality of both goods and services in the private and public sectors. Customer care/service has been a causality.
In my view, standards are not what they should be. There is a widening vacuum of professionalism right across the board. Professional behaviours and standards befitting mission statements are too often not evident.
There is a reluctance to take responsibility and ownership when things are not what they should be. Too much emphasis is being placed on academic qualifications and positions held; instead, individuals should be able to promote ideas, competence and ability to deliver quality outcomes the first time, every time, and at least cost.
There is a great pretence about customer service and care. Instead of continuous improvements in the delivery of customer service, we have the cold dead hand of bureaucracy and indifference that crush attempts to deliver any kind of change that will help to bring down costs. Lack of investment in continuous training means that efficiency is too often not visible and quiet quitting seems to be taking hold.
At times it would appear as if private/government
entities have given up on staying true to the core purpose of their business by not updating methods to stay relevant. It is my view that this is down to not having the right trained staff in the right places and the general attitude that it is not necessary to earn and re-earning the support, trust, and custom of
Customers should not be sidelined or deliberately frustrated for having the temerity to complain about costly inferior products or the poor service levels experienced.