I went to my usual morning coffee kiosk at York station this morning and asked for my occasional treat of a regular cappuccino (I asked if I could have it, not if I could get it, of course). I was horrified - OK, slightly surprised - to hear the demanded consideration had gone up by nearly 20 pence. Cuh, Puh, Fuh, and so on.
It's getting silly. Prices for everything just seem to be heading up at a frightening pace wherever you look. I bought some extra strong mentholated sweets at the garage the other day...99p! I bought a couple of bags of sweets and 3 fizzy drinks at the cinema the other night...more than a tenner! Then there's the prices I've noticed in the supermarkets. Every little helps, I'm sure, but not at 2 pounds bloody 49p for a few scabby strawberries that go off after a few days. All those adverts and banners telling you that they are keeping prices LOW or crunching this or shrinking that...I just don't believe them, especially when you check their little games like charging more per unit for multi-packs of beans than they cost if you buy 4 tins individually. The swines.
Where we shop we use the petrol station on the way out. Once every few weeks we get a 5p per litre reduction if we've spent more than 50 quid at the checkout, which we invariably do on a weekly shop. That's nice, but it takes no more than a couple of quid off your bill of 60 plus quid to fill the tank of an average diesel-engined car. The prices have steadfastly stuck at over 130p a litre for weeks, despite news that world oil prices are coming DOWN. Now that Libya has rid itself of that Mad Dog the experts tell us we should see oil prices come down even more. Not that we should rub our hands with glee at such a bloody revolution of course; that isn't the point I'm trying to make here. I'm talking about profiteering. Will we see a price reduction at the pumps? Maybe a couple of pence, but they won't come down at the same rate which they invariably shoot up with when someone in Saudi Arabia gets annoyed about something insignificant...such as the price of a coffee at Starbucks...ahem.
And then there's those there utility companies. Their tariffs and tie-in, fixed price contracts are amazingly complex. On her request, I helped my mother-in-law choose what I thought was the best tariff when a chap came round from one of the big companies, and I struggled to understand what they guy was showing and telling me. I hope I chose right, but we do at least have some comfort in the prices being fixed for 2 years. I did have to let out a wry chuckle when I heard how the government had dealt so forcefully with these utility companies by basically letting them get away with all their price increases and confusing pricing systems and telling the consumers to "shop around". Really forceful, really flipping helpful...
As for insurance companies, they're probably the worst of the lot. When my car insurance renewal was due recently, the incumbents casually banged my premiums up by something stupid like 60% even though I hadn't made any claims. So much more retaining loyal customers. I shopped around and found a price more in line with what I'd paid before and switched. Of course, that in it itself isn't terrible, but I've seen how these slippery sods operate when trying their utmost to get out of paying up when you make a claim, and if you even think about making a claim your premiums will rocket. I've seen people who have suffered bereavement having their suffering amplified by these companies as they try every trick in the book.
So what can we do about it? Not a lot, I fear. It's all stitched up and the game is rigged. I hate to come across as a tin-foil-hat adorned conspiracy nutter, but I do wonder about who actually runs the world and who is benefiting from all these upward movements in prices. I don't see people's wages going up by these amounts. People bleat on about "trickle-down" economics, but that's a busted flush. It's a myth and has been exposed as such. We are being fleeced by a small elite who want to take us for as much as they can.
What makes me think these thought even more is seeing things like this: The 147 companies that run the world. , It doesn't surprise me to see how many of them are banks or similar institutions.