Now that things are opening up, we will see how local businesses deal with the effects of the COVID-19 virus.
This past week, I had the occasion to go to my local dentist. When I arrived at the check-in desk, they handed me a couple of pieces of paper to sign. One was a form where I agreed to pay an additional $10.00 per visit for COVID-19 sanitation costs.
I found this new proposed additional charge interesting because one of the key elements in the dental industry’s request to reopen was their exceptional sanitizing procedures. It seemed they were making the case that they were already meeting most of the guidelines.
This particular dental office is part of a chain of dental service centers located across Florida; they provide excellent dental care. Each location sees a significant number of clients each day.
So, I started doing some math, Let us assume that this office sees about 30 patients a day. That would be about $300 per day in additional revenue. This group of dental offices is open six days a week so that would present about $1800 per week per location in new revenue. Using a four-week month that would amount to $7200 a month per location in new revenue. Not bad for handing out a piece of paper.
Kind of hard to imagine they would spend that much additional money on sanitation given the dental industry-standard sanitation regimen.
The point of all this is you need to be cautious as you enter back into the marketplace for services and products. Situations like this corona virus provide excellent opportunities for the people and businesses we purchase products and services from to take advantage of us.
Ashy Moody the Florida Attorney General has made an issue of price gouging related to the Corona virus. Generally, we think of price gouging as it relates to commodities like gasoline, for example.
However, it is not too much to ask how much of the recent increase in grocery prices is related to the actual impact of the Corona virus versus the opportunity/excuse to charge more.
So here’s the deal, If you go to your favorite restaurant and your lobster bisque, chicken wings, fries or your favorite meal has jumped in price two or three dollars you might want to consider dining elsewhere. There will be a real tendency, especially in small businesses to try to make up lost revenue as quickly as possible. Do not bother to object. You will be met with indignation and a long-winded excuse about how bad things have been.
I will be happy to patronize my favorite restaurants, bars and other establishments, as long as they treat me fairly. I understand the issue of lost revenue, but I do not see it as my individual responsibility to help make the make it up in the short term.
There is a lot of this, “We are all in this together” stuff going around. We’re not exactly all in it together if some of us are busily trying to take advantage of the rest of us.
It is probably time that Attorney General Ashley Moody put out a statement suggesting that unnecessary price increases in retail and hospitality related to claims regarding the Corona virus should be reported to her office.
So beware of the up sell.
It might be a dollar here and a dollar there on your favorite menu. It might be a sanitizing fee at your doctor’s office or other service provider. It might be those increased charges at your local grocery store.
If you feel like you are being taken advantage of, you probably are being taken advantage of.
You can either pass or report it to the Attorney General’s office.
If you think, you have been a victim of price gouging, you can call the state's Price Gouging Hotline at 1-866-966-7226 or file a complaint online here: Price Gouging Complaint Form.
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