Last week on Tuesday while on assignment at some fashionable hotel in town, I decided to get myself airtime. To my surprise the man at the counter asked me to pay SSP11 for a SSP10 scratchcard. “Transaction cancelled”, I told him.
One pound is not much to make noise about, is it? But then there is an old woman somewhere who just does not have an extra pound. What you see is what you should pay, however some vendors have changed that to; what I say is what you should pay. Such as the above practice is proof of the little disease affecting our private sector, it’s called profiteering.
Profiteering is a disease that really makes people, especially certain business people think they need to own all the money in the world, They are always looking for ways and excuses to charge extra for anything they sell, even if they orderd it for a price next to nothing.
Probably mobile operators need to increase on the amount of commission they give to vendors. Maybe vendors need something well beyond the average 10% commission mobile operators’ offer to vendors as commission especially to those who sell airtime outside Juba.
Mobile operators need to play a much more active role in the distribution of their products right up to our villages. That way, mobile operators who are so keen on protecting their reputation will not fleece consumers.
Airtime vendors are never short of excuses. Airtime vendors are always ready to give you a snaky lecture as to why they sell airtime and simcards for a little more than the prescribed price. Reasons range from a falling South Sudan Pound, transport expenses to and form distribution points.
The conversation will not be complete without the airtime vendor mentioning Panthou/Heglig as an excuse for why he is sells simcards for more than he ought to sell them, well the moment a vendor makes mention of the warzone, he may start to stammer and you can tell there is something fishy about his explanation.
It occurred to me that most of the time people talk about corruption and always make reference of the government and yet private businesses are rarely scrutinized.
If a hotel can make you pay more than what you are actually supposed to pay, what makes you think that the hotelier will not lie to you that the bed sheets you are lying on are clean and yet the night before, the very bed sheets you are about to sleep on got soaked in pee like a dyper, but never got washed?
If business people can make consumers pay more for little things like airtime, what will stop them from coming up with inflated quotations and deceitful invoices?
Profiteering is real, but the question is just how many people pay for what they are not supposed to pay everyday in this country? Just how many free gifts like mosquito nets are being sold those who are supposed to be getting them for free? Just how many people die because someone intentionally inflated the price of some very essential service somewhere for no other reason other than to make the extra cut?