The government should enact laws to protect consumers from predatory businesspersons. Item-pricing laws are actually long overdue in Rwanda. They supposedly exist to protect consumers from being overcharged by unscrupulous businesspersons.
What is surprising however is that none of our business people will bother to use them, since the concerned authorities do not put them to task.
Businesspersons in Rwanda have been cheating consumers for so many years. Journalists and other concerned citizens highlighted the issue a number of times without action. Now that the government has realised that it has to act, we put all our hopes in their hands.
It is so disheartening to go to a shop expecting to be cheated, just because you will wait to be told the price by the person wanting to maximize profits.
What happens is that many goods are put on display, but none of them has a price tag. In fact, you expect to haggle with the business people who will always capitalize on your ignorance to exploit you.
There must therefore as a matter of urgency be a pricing law requiring that, each item have its own individual price sticker in retail shops/stores.
Because shops in Kigali do not display item’s prices, consumers have often suffered from price discrimination. They do this by discriminately giving different prices to different buyers.
This ideal form of price discrimination, from the seller’s point of view, charges each buyer the maximum that the buyer is willing to pay. It does the reverse to the other consumer.
It is a form of cheating in business because in this case, the marginal revenue curve becomes identical with the demand curve. The seller will sell the economically efficient amount, capture the entire consumers’ surplus, and hence substantially increase profits.
The absence of price tags permits every seller to price discriminate, because there are virtually no major obstacles standing in the way. He or she succeeds since the seller is able to distinguish between those buyers who are willing to pay a high price, from those who are not, through bargaining.
Because Rwandan businesspersons are not too ignorant to know that price discrimination is potentially profitable, they have insistently remained tricky to the disadvantage of the consumers.
Consumers have also been denied the chance, to make price comparison whenever on window-shopping. It is rather laborious to move around asking each businessperson, prices to compare. What happens is that consumers will always suffer from offering any price, a benefit of doubt.
There are therefore cheated consistently.
It is again true that lack of price tags, encourages tax evasion in Rwanda. There is no proper identification of prices and in most cases; buyers are not given receipts after paying for a commodity, due to the general confusion created by lack of price tags and long and boring haggling.
When a consumer gets involved in haggling for a long time, he or she will get bored and succumb to any price.
Look at how the so-called fuel crisis in Rwanda is handled by different petrol stations.
They are struggling to exploit any form of confusion. This is a loophole. They hide fuel, in anticipation of getting a chance to cheat, this is intolerable.
They have been trying to increase fuel prices, when they actually have stocks that were bought cheaply. This kind of attitude shows why our business community cannot be trusted or tolerated. Anything to do with exploiting consumers and particularly the poor should not be given room in Rwanda.
Record thus, has it that, businesspersons in Rwanda are overruled by egoistic tendencies; the government therefore has to handle them seriously. We cannot have a community of people exploiting others in the pretext of serving them.
Let the laws governing businesses be adhered to, so that whoever tries to dodge, is punished in an exemplary manner, to avert any potential voracious businesspersons.