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Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Little sympathy for those who gouge the public

In mid-2008 we were on a few days' leave in Cape Town. Browsing idly through the shops at the V&A Waterfront, my eye caught a replica Springbok rugby jersey. It had a Canterbury logo on it. What really caught my eye was the price of the thing: almost R1000. One thousand rand for a supporter's jersey! Now I'm sorry, but that is a rip-off in anybody's language. The garment is not worth R1000, and I don't care whose logo is on it.
The public know full well how little it must cost to manufacture Springbok jersey knock-offs in China, because pirated copies are sold on every street corner for R100 or less. This means that the "real", "authentic" article, manufactured by Canterbury was being sold at an exorbitant profit - 1000% more than what the street vendors were selling knock-offs for. SARU, the rugby union, is also complicit in this rip-off, because they claim a portion of each garment sold as royalty fees.
Predictably Canterbury yesterday announced they were going into liquidation. Shame. Poor things. Or not.
Somehow I feel as little sympathy for them as I feel for the manufacturers of printer cartridges, whose ink is much, much more expensive than gold on a gram for gram basis. Now I am sorry, but it's INK, for crying out loud. Same applies to the manufacturers of DVD's, who at one stage sold their wares for R300-R400, and were then outraged to discover that pirated copies were being sold for R60 on street corners.
Gouge the public, and you are going to find that somebody, most probably in China, is going to see a business opportunity and will profit by making copies of your wares. They see an opportunity because your company is being too greedy. Of course the printer cartridge manufacturers as well as Canterbury are going to scream "illegal" and "piracy", but to my mind it's also almost as unethical if not illegal to exploit your monopoly and sell your wares at a price too far above its value, deliberately gouging the public for all it's worth.
Good riddance to Canterbury. Hopefully SARU, who also demands a portion of the price of these garments, will have learnt its lesson as well.
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