Well I dunno – it’s all got a bit Barra-Boy spivs smoking tiny cig-ends leaning against lamp posts in the swirling fog.
What is? The process of buying stuff you HAVE TO BUY, here in the UK.
Take gas or electric. You can find a deal if you search and switch, and then comply with a few restrictions. No-one will offer the lowest possible price to you (taking into account all costs and investments needs) just because it’s a human necessity.
I mean REALLY? You have to seek out a DEAL on Gas/Electric?
You know, I don’t really want to have to find a deal for something as basic as heating and cooking, or for a legal requirement, or to discover hidden costs, hidden deals, hidden prices.
More, I shouldn’t have to.
Train tickets? One price somewhere, another price somewhere else, and no doubt there’s a deal to be had somewhere else again.
Insurance? (and don’t forget motor insurance is a legal necessity) You’ll get a quote. It will be ridiculous, you get another – no better, you go online, much different – you call the original company, and they (guess?) do a deal – bettering their 1st offer by £100 or more.
What does that say?
It says “you HAVE to buy insurance, so I’m gonna fleece you as much as I can – AND I’m going to send officious documents reminding you of your legal duty whist I rip you off. When I’ve finished doing that, I’m gonna sell your details on to garages, ambulance chasers, legal firms if I discover you might have a need (?) for one of these, AND then I’ll take a cut of their profits”.
OK, OK I know – this is the market economy. Competition drives down prices. Competition adds choice, avoids cartels – and it seems to work – to a point.
I think in the UK, we’ve just stepped-over that point where it’s healthy.
For me, it’s starting to feel faintly subversive, with smutty, untrustworthy trickster-land dealing that subverts decent trade and denies reasonable access to fair-priced necessities.