Fed up customer complains about Big B price gouging

“I have no doubt that this is something they’re used to doing and I’m pretty sure my complaint will fall on deaf ears.”

by Fed up consumer!

Like every other disgruntled consumer, I am used to buying ordinary supermarket items at exorbitant prices.  I’m used to seeing UK foods marked with a £1.00 price tag, only to be sold at nearly 3 times the exchange rate, however it really boils my blood when I come across an item marked as ‘15% more free sheets’, being sold with a more than 15% mark up!!  To make matters worse, the regular item, with 88 sheets was sitting just above it for $7.15.

Yesterday I went into Big B supermarket, picked up the roll for $8.36 then backed tracked to see if I was indeed getting a bargain.  To my dismay, I saw the regular item on the shelf being sold at a different price.  I promptly complained to manager Mr. Christopher Durant, who assured me he will mention it to the powers that be.  My reply was “I have no doubt that this is something they’re used to doing and I’m pretty sure it will fall on deaf ears”.

Anyway, on my way out, Mr. Durant caught up to me to let me know I had “got it wrong”, as I was comparing the tissue roll I bought with a different Kleenex brand.  I insisted that I was indeed correct and followed him to the shelf where I saw the ‘regular’ 88 sheet roll at more than $1 less.

In Mr. Durant’s haste to point out my mistake, he brought my attention to the fine print under the ‘15% more free sheets’, where it read, ” *102 sheets sold to to the retailer at 88 sheet pack”.

Needless to say, he didn’t have much more to say after that.

I will be sending this email to the Supercentre head office, also to whatever trading standards/consumer watch programs we have ‘representing’ us.

Sign me: Fed up consumer!

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38 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Consumer Issues

38 responses to “Fed up customer complains about Big B price gouging

  1. Do you know it’s cheaper to buy a pack of 4 seasoned burgers from Farmer’s Choice than to get the pack of 6? http://www.bajanreporter.com/2009/10/barbadian-economics-4-burgers-cheaper-than-six-talk-about-hit-for-6/ “$2.20 per patty is the quartet while the sextet costs $3.29 each – um, have you ever heard the phrase ‘Bulk Shopping‘?”

  2. Still applies although 2 years old, even more of a gap now – but meat is so dear I usually get Eve’s Jumbo Bacon patties every so often

  3. Sunshine Sunny Shine

    This is standard proceedure. Price gouging has been standard practice for years. So nothing new in the exploitation of passive bajans.

  4. Name

    Ah..Passive Bajans -and there’s the whole key to it!

  5. Newbie

    There is a passive way to make a point. Stop buying the offending articles and watch the price come down. We all have to make a little sacrifice at some time.

  6. Mary

    Passive Bajans….Indeed!

  7. Fed Up Consumer

    @ Newbie
    Whilst I agree, it’s not so easy. If you realize, there’s only a very small minority that’ll make a stand. The majority will shrug their shoulders and say “whatever” and continue on with their purchase. For instance, we all have mobile phones with cameras, we have the technology that we can take pictures of these injustices and send them to the ‘powers that be’. However, we wouldn’t hesitate to take a picture of a gruesome road accident or some lewd pose and post it over the internet in a heartbeat.
    It’s a shame really, it’s a shame that we have been given the technology to be heard, but we find it very hard to sound our our voices.

    Fed Up Consumer

  8. yatinkiteasy

    It was almost funny to read the article in The Nation a few days ago , about the Law that states that all goods retailed in Barbados MUST be marked with a price, or have a price shown close to the article being sold.
    Go to any Sol retail store, and you will see that there are no prices, on ANYTHING.
    I posted the following a few months back, but it is still valid.The Government needs to enforce laws that are already in place to protect Consumers!

    Bajans Must be Wealthy.

    Barbados, it seems, is one of the most expensive countries in the World. And yet, everyone seems to be spending money like mad!…New cars, even with 200%duty,the latest cellphones, expensive clothes, dining out, nightclubbing, travel, you name it.Bajans must be wealthy.
    When one looks at the prices being advertised for rental of houses or apartments, it makes one think: “where do people get the money to afford such housing”. Salaries, as far as I can tell are not that high, and there are deductions for NIS and in most cases, Income Tax. Then , one looks at prices in the Supermarkets….it is simply ridiculous what is being charged for most items on this Island. And yet, one sees Bajans filling up their carts with whatever they want. Bajans must be wealthy.
    When wealthy people shop, they generally will not bother to check the prices of items they pick up in a store….they just proceed to the checkout counter and pay….whatever the total is, no problem. This behaviour can be observed daily ,and repeatedly, at most Gas Station stores where prices are not displayed for most items offered for sale, either by marking the products themselves or posting of signs close to the products.(This practice by retailers is a breach of Barbados law, but who cares?)
    Several weeks ago I asked the cashier at one of these stores in the Warrens area, why there was no price shown on the two items I had picked up….her response was that I could have them scanned before I paid for them, if I wanted to know the price. The response from the store manager was equally stupid:” the price stickers fall off the products because of the cold”.(One of the products was a can of nuts, the other a chocolate) Apparently, I was the first person to have ever complained about the lack of prices being posted or attached to the product.. This particular store, I am told, does over 5000 transactions per day.
    Bajans must be wealthy.

  9. Loreto

    @Fed up Consumer – I am going to do just that in the future!!

  10. Fed Up Consumer

    Thank you Loreto, I hope many more will follow suit. If anyone has the email address of the government organisation put in place to address such matters, I’d be greatful if they’ll post on this page. Let’s force, if not embarass government to do what they’re getting paid for!!

  11. Spinelli

    I agree with Fed Up Consumer. Leave it on the shelf. Eg. Supermarket “A” had the same product $2.50 more than “B”. I ask him what the difference, he said this was from the new stock. I said this can’t be, so I took out my phone as if to take a picture, he called me back and sold it to me @ B’s price and also asked the guys to change the price tag. He said it must be an oversight and apologize. New Yorker

  12. FearPlay

    I agree with many of the above comments and would like to share the following with you.
    I wanted to order a camera from Amazon.com and have it shipped to me here in Barbados. Cost of camera and accessories listed on Amazon was US$1,079.99 ($2,159.98 BDS) inclusive of delivery charges. My wife suggested that I call the Customs Department and enquire what duties this purchase would attract. This I did some five days ago.

    Please sit before continuing with this saga if you are not already sitting. I was informed by a member of Her Majesties Customs that there would be a 17.5% VAT charge or $378 BDS bringing the price of the camera to $2,537.97 BDS. A duty charge of 25% or $634.50 BDS added to the new figure would bring the total price to BDS $3,172.48. Now be mindful that the shipping cost (airfreight) from the US to Barbados was not included in the above and would have to be added along with a corresponding 17.5% VAT plus 25% duty.

    A camera that started out costing $2,159.98 would end up costing a Barbadian consumer in excess of BDS$3,200 plus shipping etc. THAT’S A WHOPPING $1,000 MORE FOLKS! A THOUSAND DOLLARS MORE. Keep in mind my friends, that there was no middle man, supermarket, or broker involved in any of the above and was this camera intended for resale, it would probably have attracted a higher rate of duties and taxes before the business added a profit margin for itself. Profit is how a business pays its rent, salaries, utility costs, operating costs AND TAXES plus make contributions to charity.

    I appreciate the frustration and anger that many shoppers experience when faced with high and seemingly unreasonable prices as much as I do, but you tell me, who’s the (dare I say it?) criminal here? Remember, Customs and its officers are only doing the bidding of their masters.

    Let’s call a spade a spade and place the blame squarely on the shoulders of whomsoever deserves it. LET US SHOUT AT THE TOPS OF OUR VOICES AND TELL THEM TO STOP BORROWING IN OUR NAMES WITHOUT OUR PERMISSION TO DO SO.

  13. Super Centre Ltd

    Dear Disgruntled Shopper,

    The deaf ears have heard you and do on a regular basis through our reference to customer comment requests on your cash receipt. The website igastore-feedback.com is the channel we use for customer comments and complaints and as you surf you are requested to choose a destination and store location. We respond to all complaints either through our HR Department or the Manager of the particular store in question. We also respond to comment through Sanka Price’s Consumer
    column in the Saturday Sun.

    There are many instances were pack size and price points will vary from the original manufacturer’s market to the one we live in which are often distorted by freight cost and duty structures which add to the landed cost of a product and yes most of the time they will result in the consumer paying more.. In most retail outlets in Barbados there are significant choices across categories which allow for consumers to make decisions which best suit their budget.

    We are not in the business of price gouging and while we understand the grave concerns that people have the world over regarding the rising price of commodities in particular, we here consume a lot of imported products which carry duties from as low as 5% to 200% plus. If we have erred in any way we understand the need to correct mistakes and resolve those issues that are within our control.If you would be kind enough to make contact through the medium outlined above we will endeavor to give you an explanation regarding this particular compaint. Alternatively you could call me at 429 4554.

    David Neilands
    Managing Director
    Super Centre Ltd.

  14. Fed Up Consumer

    Thank you for your personal reply. Let me start by stating that my original post from was from Fed Up Consumer not Disgruntled Shopper…maybe you’re referring to your many other customers?

    Although not in retailing, I am well aware of the additional frieght charges, customs duties and so forth retailers are subjected to. For that reason alone, I have never made a complaint in regards to some products being sold at nearly 3 times the exchange rate.

    I’m a bit puzzled to why you are telling me about ‘choices for every budget’. My complaint wasn’t that I thought the cost too high, it was because of the blatant disregard for our consumer rights and basically taking us all for idiots!!

    To be honest, an explanation on your part will do very little at this time, however a price adjustment to correspondence with what the label says is the only thing I will be looking for…that doesn’t mean increasing the lesser priced item to the same as the higher priced item, although I wouldn’t be surprised to see that happen.

  15. Fed Up Consumer

    @ David Neilands…
    ‘Price gouging – no, jooking out ours eyes – yes!!

  16. watcher

    Walmart super store needed. Take a look at walmart.com and check out their on line pricing. Just carried a baby seat for a freind..$39.90 at wallmart…$400 in Barbados..Also carried a 12 mp 5x zoom Kodak camera with, case and 2 gb sd card…$68. barbados close to $400

    Bunch of people should get together and form a buying club and once a month bring a contianer of things from walmart….even after duty, vat and shipping the savings going to be very vey very big…

  17. Analyzer

    Two questions:
    1) How come milk has gone up so much in the last couple of years(electricity more expensive etc.)?
    2) How come a box of Multi-grain Cheerios costs over $18.00 – it is madness! I am going to have to stop buying it unless I can find it at Pricesmart or another supermarket cheaper.

  18. massas bo'

    Baggy pants .Skin ya teef,
    Ent nuffin like some price relief
    Prices high or prices low
    done fill my pants; an off I go.
    Ho Ho HO
    Happeeee Christmas!!
    Carlton you is A1..

  19. Why do the Barbados government Pegg their money?…. Things should not be that expensive.

  20. Sunshine Sunny Shine

    Dear David Neilands

    If you would be so kind to provide an example or related information regarding why your markup on food commodities are so high, in retrospect to the duties and cost incurred from importation of consumer products, maybe this would help to clear up the held notion that many prices on food items sold in your supermarket chain are not inflated at the will and fancies of the conglomerate to maximise on profit.

    You stated that duties can be as high 200% or low as 5% yet at no time in Barbados do we ever have the oportunity to buy cheap food when those duties are as low as 5%. Also, which consumer in Barbados would have the fore knowledge that he is purchasing a product with a low or high percentage (5% or 200%) duty imposed . This information is not privilege information and does nothing to alleviate consumers concerns that they are getting a raw deal from the food retail sector.

    Food prices in Barbados have always been high. Now if the problem is import duty levies, then the other Caribbean countries like St. Vincent and St. Lucia must know something that we do not know because there food is a whole lot cheaper than ours (no evidence to back this just going on the general word of the populace as a creditable source). Or maybe there duties at a much lower rate.

    Also there are alleges that the food retail sector in Barbados are in collusion to ensure that markups remain high and viable. Some circles have accused this sector as being a Cartel. I do not support the above assertions only because I do not have any supporting evidence but some disclosures, like those made by Dr. Robert Lucas concerning the poultry industry, provides valuable food for thought and insight.

    I therefore request on the behalf of those concern consumers further clarity to support your assertion that your supermarket chain do not price gouge but reflect prices that are supportive of duties and costs incurred. I await your response and the provision of an example to settle the lingering doubts about the creditability of your response.

    Yours truly

    Sunshine Sunny Shine
    Germany

  21. Newbie

    @ fed up consumer
    I agree with your statement about the lack of resolve when it comes to individuals fighting for their rights here in Barbados. I by no means meant to make light of your post just pointing out that even passively a point can be made. I for one would love to be able to communicate with like minded individuals who think that we are being taken for a ride here in Barbados and that relates to a lot of other happenings on the island. A 969g tin of Quality Street chocolates at Tesco in the UK cost £10.00 exchange rate of 3 to 1 $30.00 BDS. These will sell here in Barbados for up to $80.00 BDS. Even with import cost and mark up this is ridiculous, there is no excuse for it other than greed. Needless to say I look at some of the items on the shelves, laugh quietly to myself and say well that can stay right where it is. On the issue of prices on stock, you can enter any number of stores and find many items on shelves without prices on them. If we cannot get the Government to regulate something like building a house which is probably the biggest expenditure of an average Bajan why would they care about prices on food items. The trickle down effect works perfectly (to the detriment of the country) here in Barbados, if the top (Government) don’t care why should anyone in their downline care. There are too many supposedly governmental offices in Barbados that hold a Title, Office, Phone number, Directory listing and GET PAID, but when contact is made from a complaining member of the public the response is ” WE HAVE NO POWER”. Why is taxpayers money being used to set up theses offices and employ people that have no power or recourse to do whatever they are being paid to do.
    an equally fed up consumer!!!!

  22. Fed Up Consumer

    We’ll all be waiting a long time to see truthful samples of mark ups on food items…I won’t be holding my breath!
    I agree, food prices in Barbados are much more expensive than in neighbouring islands. Take Trinidad for instance, I could shop until my heart’s content, and I’m talking about the imported goods. Maybe our taxes and duties are a lot higher than our neighbours, but until we see some facts and figure, we’ll be left guessing.
    @ Newbie…my sister recently bought 2 tins of Quality Streets from either Asda or Tesco for £4.50 each (2 week special offer), the regular price is usually about £6.00 around this time of year- so, even cheaper than the price you quoted. Of course we all know that the retailer is not purchasing it at the shelf price, and we appreicate that UK supermarket chains will have a lot more buying power than our local supermarket chains. So, I have to agree with you that ‘greed’ is the only plausible explantion.
    I’m not too sure how often or if customs increase the duties paid on goods, but I guarantee that many items in a supermarket will have 2 or 3 price increases within a 12 month time span. If there’s a certain item you buy on a regular basis, keep the receipt or take note, I bet that item would have gone up over a 12 month period. Yes, the retailer will blame it on the supplier, frieght, customs duties…anyone but themselves!

  23. Analyzer

    I am boycotting buying Multi-Grain Cheerios, I saw them today for $18.45 at JBs. I will just have to buy something else. Is anybody else with me? Let them sit on the shelf forever!

  24. Fed Up TaxPayer

    Tax Gouging not Price Gouging. You want someone to blame – take a visit to Bay St. Reasons why things are cheaper in other islands – do a comparison of customs duties and the port charges between islands. We are so bloated, inefficient and uncompetitive all to support the holy grail of 28000 civil servants. Which incidentally stood and functioned at 21000 in 1994 under Sandy.
    The economy is being taxed and stifled because the hard decisions to cut runaway Government spending cannot be made – and this is on the heads of both political parties and weak leadership by both.
    Simple solutions. Cut taxation, cut spending, cut Gov. size, control utility monopoly, encourage private sector growth. Then you will see prices comparable to other islands.

  25. cheaper

    A lot of others islanders I know shop in SVG for their groceries and for appliances, etc etc etch.

  26. Fed Up Consumer

    Oh dear….here’s another one for the books. Please note, I am getting this information third hand, so I’m telling it as told to me.
    A gentleman needed a new phone, so, as a LIME customer, he checked out the price of the desired phone in one of their out of town outlets. His intentions, like so many Barbadians was to take advantage of the Minstry of Finanace’s very ‘generous’ Christmas gift and purchase the item duty free from the LIME store in Cave Shepherd. You can imagine his shock when the same phone he had intentions of buying, was being sold at $40.00 more in Cave Shepherd than it was at the other LIME outlet. As I said, I did not witness it for myself, therefore only repeating the story as told. If the story is indeed correct and the choice of phone was not mixed up, it goes it show that this is clearly a nation wide epidemic!
    I for one am disgusted that Government have no shame at encouraging Barbadians to spend frivolousy in the midst of a recession. I real Christmas gift would be to give us back our 2.5% of VAT…I was going to say stop the tax on my allowances, however I was made redundant nearly three months ago, so I’m not even receiving a salary. Start regulating these unfair trading practices and start thinking of serving those who put you where you are now!

    Getting more fed up by the minute!!

  27. Re – the LIME story, although I have a Digicel unit and carry Digicel releases, in all fairness if one read the ads viz. Duty Free carefully? They said “SELECTED ELECTRONIC ITEMS” which means ye olde – CAVEAT EMPTOR which in plain English is ‘Let Buyer Beware’ when i learned special may not apply to mobiles, tablets or cameras I just did not bother

  28. Fed Up Consumer

    Fair enough, however, if the phone was indeed the exact same product in both branches, shouldn’t it carry the exact same price?

  29. Fed Up Consumer

    OK. Maybe I’m flogging a dead horse here, however I couldn’t pass up mentioned this.
    I popped into JB’s Supercentre this morning to pick up a few things and decided to check a see the the price of the offending item had been adjusted. Nope, it was still on the shelf ‘15% more free sheets’ at $8.36, however what was missing was the 88 sheet roll at $7.15….no longer any direct comparison! Coincidence…? Maybe, Out of stock…? Again, maybe…but I doubt very much. However, this was another branch so you never know. Mr. Neilands, you’ve just confirmed that you do indeed take us, your so called valued customers, for a set of idiots!!

  30. rastaman

    @fed up customer: And you really thought different.

  31. rastaman

    The politicians think that we are also a set of idiots. But night run till day catch it.

  32. Analyzer

    How long we got to wait fuh day to catch it?

  33. Sunshine Sunny Shine

    When I really look at this thing the only persons I can blame in all of this is the Barbadian consumer. If we know price gouging is taking place in our supermarkets why are we still buying food from these supermarkets? If we know that the merchants are ‘jooking out’ our eyes with inflated clothing prices why are we still buying from them? Our people are so tolerable of crap that when they complain no one (particularly the merchants) takes them seriousl because everyone knows there is no justice in making complains. What Bajans need to do now is to continue to expose the exploiters. Use their BB’s to pose price comparisons as necessary proof of gouging. Make an online petition against exploitation and try to see how many bajans (that are not passive) would come out and make a stand.

    Also have anyone notice how grey-ish meat looks in what I consider to be very poor packaging? Either the meat is always wet or you can see blood settlement in the bottom of the packaging. Not to mention the ‘wilting’ looking vegetable and fruit products that are left on display unmoved.

  34. Junior

    Differently chocolates, cameras, cell phones etc are luxury goods. If you are buying them then you can pay whatever price the merchant has because you WANT it. They are neither nourishment nor shelter.

    Up to you to check prices, availability after sales service etc to determine where to buy it. I see food items listed in the paper by some government department or the other. If they are accurate, it means you can save your time and just go to the stores with the lowest prices. I do not get any such public service doing comparison shopping for me in Canada.

    All who think import taxes in Bim are too high, then call for them to get rid of school meals, free education from primary to tertiary, free bus rides for school children in uniform, raise land tax too. I paid more than $3600 CDN in land tax this year although my house valued less than a comparable house in Bim.

    Are you all ready to drop $7000 BDS or more in land tax so you can buy cell phones and chocolates for the same prices as at Tesco’s and Amazon ?

    The NHC could skin out all their tenants, refurbish the units and charge market rates too. NCC labourers could be made redundant and the residents of Dodds could take over the work, BDF could gurad them and get target practice and sport off any that mess around at de same time.

    Send home the whole public service if you all really think that will help, but the public service in Bim props up most of the private sector, so up to you to kill your cash cow.

    Want to know one reason why prices are high ?

    I had a customs entry submitted to me by a customs clerk from a big car dealership in Bim one time. It had one line Misc. car parts.
    Know what ?
    The heading car parts attracted 30% duty at that time.
    Had the lazy so and so bothered to put the item under the specific heading, the duty would have been 10%.

    The treasury thanks them.

  35. Anonymous

    Will any thing change with all this talk.i wonder..?

  36. FYI – Just went to People’s Market… Decided to try Seasoned 14 lb’s. again… $2.83 each in pack of 4 yet if I look at packet of 6? $3.27 each! Still cheaper for me to get 2 packs of 4 than 1 box of six, SMDH and that item was written 2 years ago, so Hanschell Inniss had plenty time to straighten their pricing…

  37. Oops – 1/4 Lb’s. I meant

  38. T J

    Most Bajans are like my cousin. She normally goes to Emerald City every weekend to shop. And everytime she would be crying, my god the prices to high, lord have mercy (mine you she still picking up and putting the trolley) This has been 2 years I stared going to supermarkets like Popular or Jordans to get better deals. Bajans are not to pleased about the high prices in some supermarkets but will say you cant eat the money and retailers know that and will continue to sell at the high prices.

    I know it dont suit ‘certain people’ but prices at supermarkets such as Cherish, Popular Discount, and Jordans are pretty reasonable and less expensive than the SuperCentres and Emeralds. Remember in those supermarkets you aint just paying for the goods, you paying for spacious aisles, van to drop you home (if you are not driving) – Emerald, bag boy/girl to pack your bags and push them out to your car, great air-conditioning etc… So its just like if your getting bake chicken from a local village eatery or from West Coast restaurant. You will pay more.
    I am not trivalising your substansive point on price gouging, I am just saying….