Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Customers are still Kings

In my blog post one or two months back, I have mentioned that a stall owner of a mixed vegetable rice stall I patronized almost daily, has capitalized on the rising cost of rice to justify the price increases of all rice items. All rice dishes, after the increase cost 20 cents more and additional toppings of rice incur an additional charge of 20 cents.

When the ‘price increase policy’ was implemented, it was done without prior notification to customers, thus all of them including them were caught off-guard and grudgingly paid the increased prices.

I have even clarified with the stallholder himself asking for the rationale of the price increase; ‘to cover cost’ he bluntly stated.

Since the price increase of the dishes by the stall, I had stopped patronizing the stall and switched to purchasing my meals from the other stalls, which not only have not increased their prices but also serve better food as I gradually sussed out.

And gradually as I have noticed, the once-long queues, which formed at the rice dishes stall, has silently become shorter everyday. The regular customers must have also switched to other food stalls as could be seen by the increasing length of the queues at these stalls.

Today, after about one or two months since the particular food stall has increased the prices of its rice dishes, I saw a signpost made out of vanguard sheet hung at the stall; obviously it must have been created by the stall owners themselves.

On the signboard read: “One meat dish + two vegetable dishes at only $2.30 only (limited for takeaway only). Additional toppings of rice at additional 20 cents.”

The food stall owner definitely would not have resorted to putting up such a signpost except to pull in customers, to ‘win’ back customers they have lost as a result of the price increase they have implemented.

At the now reduced and attractive prices, some previous regular customers may really do an ‘about-turn’ and returned to patronizing the food owner’s stall, hence the stall owners thus would have won some old customers back.

But for some, the stall owner’s remedial actions may have seem futile or even desperate. Others may also not return to the food stall anymore, no matter how attractive the prices look now, for ‘once bitten twice shy’.

The stall owner has foolishly and unjustifiably increased the prices of his rice dishes when his counterparts at the food centre does not do so. Doing that, he has thought he could earn some profits too. Little did he see that 'Customers are still Kings'

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