What a consumer doesn’t understand [Archives:2008/1191/Opinion]

September 18 2008

By: Abdullah Al-Bahri
We sometimes find that consumers take after criminals, committing crimes against themselves as a result of continuing wrong behavior, unaware of the potential consequences of their actions. This is what has already been found by several surveys targeting vulnerable groups complaining of the soaring prices of basic foodstuffs and commodities.

The surveys also found that vulnerable groups complain of other problems besides the phenomenon of soaring prices, such as the growing demand for certain goods and a shortage in some basic foodstuffs.

I object to those complaining of a shortage in food supplies, since foodstuffs have become available in abundance in the local markets, as well as affordable for the majority of us. I don't know what is wrong on Earth. It may be the nature of man, created with the distinctive feature of always being in hurry to get things done.

Believe me or not! Misunderstanding and lack of awareness have a direct link with what happens on the ground, particularly when we see people unnecessarily flocking to the markets to buy commodities they may not really need.

It may seem difficult to understand why consumers so hurriedly rush toward merchandized commodities. Temporary food crises are mostly suffered by a minority of consumers who call on other citizens to rush to markets to buy basic commodities, and are symptomatic of baseless and inauthentic rumors that have nothing to do with fact.

What a consumer doesn't primarily comprehend is that he/she contributes to creating crises of this kind. Consumers willfully help irresponsible tradesmen and monopolists to harm their quality of life by manipulating prices, despite almost all necessary products being available on the market, with the exception of some irregular cases that seem to violate familiar norms and the rules of supply and demand.

Facts on the ground point to a contradictory state, which is represented by some consumers' irresponsible behavior as they spread rumors about rising prices of a certain product or commodity, either spontaneously or as a result of irresponsible tradesmen exploiting rumors to manipulate pricelists.

As tradesmen with a sense of monopolization seriously deal with false rumors, they change inauthentic hearsay into real facts for consumers to suffer and complain from. Those who spread baseless rumors about rising prices or food shortages actually help to maintain the hiked pricelists they generate and prolong their negative impacts on all consumers, particularly those with limited income.

I hope that consumers understand all the related matters positively, help to increase awareness in their communities and become moderate in their consumption of commodities. They must consciously avoid random consumption of unnecessary goods, for the sake of maintaining food security in their families.

In addition, consumers should give up the habit of stocking up on food in a way to raise concern and spread fear in their surroundings.

As all basic commodities are available in markets, rumors of shortage in food supplies and rising prices must be deemed baseless. It is us, the consumers, who should be accused of inventing even temporary crises.

As consumers, we don't cooperate with the competent authorities in government to stabilize prices and prevent irresponsible tradesmen from manipulating pricelists after having been officially fixed by these authorities.

The state and its agencies should not be considered the only parties responsible for fixing prices and monitoring tradesmen who manipulate pricelists. Instead, all citizens and civil society organizations must take part in increasing consumers' awareness of how to control and ration their consumption of foodstuffs and other basic commodities.

As consumers, we should not contribute to the random consumption of commodities in an irresponsible manner in order to avoid creating any further crises.

Educated people and mosque preachers should also play an effective role in increasing the awareness of consumers to avoid extravagant consumption and prevent irresponsible tradesmen from manipulating prices.

It is time to make use of other countries' experiences, and follow the example of people who judiciously deal with price hikes, instead of spreading false rumors, rushing to markets to stock up on foodstuffs and creating crises.