Consumers can vote with their feet for fairer-priced coffee

The Government should not step in to control prices in a free market (Anti-profiteering task force a good idea, by Mr Chia Yong Soong; April 7).

A profiteer is one who makes unreasonable profit during times of emergency and scarcity.

Raising the price of coffee by 10 cents or 20 cents is not quite profiteering. Those who do so due to any water price hike are perhaps opportunists, and consumers can easily boycott the stalls or have their own instant coffee at home.

It would be difficult for regulators to decide what constitutes excessive profit margins for a cup of coffee, given that there are many components that determine its price.

It is not just the cost of water - the quality of the beans, ambience, service and hygiene standards all go towards determining how much a cup of coffee would be.

Businesses should be free to determine the prices of services.

Raising the price of coffee by 10 cents or 20 cents is not quite profiteering. Consumers can easily boycott the stalls or have their own instant coffee at home.

Consumers should be the ones deciding if they are willing to pay.

Unless stalls or retailers hoard goods during an emergency, it does not make sense for the Government to monitor such a routine item as a cup of coffee.

The Government should not be entangled in a tough balancing act between overburdening the stalls and preserving consumer protection in a market economy.

In a market economy, hawker stalls would want to make a reasonable profit to cover increasing overheads to remain viable, while consumers expect to pay fair and reasonable prices for their goods.

Allow the market forces to work in determining the price consumers will pay for their daily fix of coffee.

The power of social media will be of help in disseminating price information to customers so they can vote with their feet by patronising stalls that charge lower prices.

Francis Cheng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 17, 2017, with the headline 'Consumers can vote with their feet for fairer-priced coffee'. Print Edition | Subscribe