During the past two weeks, I made a very amazing discovery about the price of imported food and drinks in Bacolod City! Some of the stores have really jacked the prices up on a lot of food items that many foreigners enjoy buying. Can we get real here? If Walmart in Florida USA can sell a plastic bottle of mustard for only 68 cents US, and you know they are still making money, how come in Bacolod, some stores have the very same item for as much as $3 USD? Each!
Canned red kidney, pinto, Northern and lima beans are as cheap as 2 cans for $1 in the USA, however, at one of the local delis in Bacolod, the going price is P134 or more than $3 for a can of US beans! SM Supermarket has the exact same canned beans and the very same size can and brand for only P43, which is about $1! I have added the famous deli to my personal list of the El Groupo Gougers!!
I fully realize that stores in the Philippines have to make money but I think some of the stores are taking advantage of the market and have become greedy! Without researching the actual Philippines Republic Act number, I know there is a law on the books to prevent gouging of consumers, however, this is mostly in times of natural calamities. Yes, it is mostly Filipinos who are targeted by greedy vendors and shop owners but they can be in serious trouble for doing so!
It is not only expats who often get hit with the higher prices, as affluent Filipinos or other Filipinos with means are also gouged on a regular basis
The Meaning of Suki!
One of the first things I think an expat should learn in the Philippines is about suki. This patronage system in the Philippines has existed for decades and expats can avail this system, while also developing a close friendship & relationship! For being a loyal or regular customer of one particular vendor or shop owner, they will receive a reduction in product prices and even establish a line of credit in times of need. This is fabulous, isn’t it? I personally have suki with a number of vendors in the Bacolod Area but thankfully, I never had to ask for a line of credit! Another aspect of the suki system is customer satisfaction. Many Filipino vendors will go that extra mile to meet their customer’s needs and often exceed their customer’s expectations concerning their services and quality of products.
I have met some generous expats in the Philippines, who fully realize the poverty level in the Philippines and who understand that if they pay up to P10 more for food and drink items, it is not a big deal to them! I have told more than one that if they cannot afford an extra 25 cents, they should think about going back home! Of course, I understand that if I am charged 25 cents more on every item I buy, it will add up over time, but that is not the real situation on the ground. The real situation is that many items in the Philippines are produced locally and are not at imported prices. These items are already amazingly cheap in our area of the Philippines when compared to shopping in Florida!
One expat recently told me that he was sad because he destroyed his year long suki with a vendor at one of the public markets because his carrots were P10 more per kilo than another vendor at the market and he bought the cheaper carrots to save 25 cents! The expat told me that when he goes to the market now, the vendors are laughing when they see him. Without a doubt, they are also privately calling him kuripot, which in English means Cheap Charlie or a tight wad!
I don’t mind paying a little extra on certain items because I have the means and it doesn’t hurt me one bit to put an extra P10 in the pocket of a Filipino, who has a wife and children because I know first hand the daily struggle to feed the family on the vendors income. However, I take offense when rich store owners, some with chain stores all over the Philippines, want to charge me $3-$5 for an item that sells in the States for $1 or less!
In fact, I am going to boycott all the El Groupo Gougers and strengthen my suki in the Bacolod Area! I am never actually ripped off because I never pay more for anything than it is worth to me. However, some of those $3-$5 imported food items just lost their worth to me.