Saturday, September 29, 2007

Rip-Off Britain

As an ex-pat (I have never been called Pat, by the way), I am always amazed at the way the Brits are being ripped off in so many ways when it comes to prices.

My biggest gripe is the motoring industry. Let's start with the price of new cars. As an example, a new Honda Accord in the UK will set the customer back about £18,000 ($36,000). Here in the US, the equivalent is about $24,000. A 50% price hike. Oh, Honda will argue that things are different in the UK and that the steering wheel has to be moved etc. Nothing but BS in my book.

Not only content to charge 50% for the same car in the US, a Honda dealer charges £135 ($270) for a 3,000 service, which is an oil change and a new oil filter. We have "Ladies' Tuesdays" over here, where any woman can take he car in, and get the same 3,000 mile service for $27. It does not affect the Warranty if the car is taken to a non-Honda shop. It invalidates the Warranty if the customer does that in the UK. My own local garage does an oil change for me for $10. Cash. My trusty Mercury steed is happy with that, despite the fact that it does leak some oil and burns some. But then, a gallon of oil here is about $8. In the UK - £20 ($40). I know oil is heavily taxed just like fuel is, but it's still a rip off. I guess the taxes pay for the free health care, which I believe is having serious problems coping with the number of ill people. If you have a cold or the 'flu, you must make an appointment to see the doctor. Usually three days away.

I don't smoke, but I was amazed at the price of cigarettes on a recent visit to Blighty. £5.50 ($11) for a pack of Marlboro (here it is about $4 and they are longer). It is claimed that it is the poor and those on welfare that smoke, begs another question, how can they pay this?

A desktop PC in the UK is nearly twice the price of a system in the US. Ditto laptops. It's the same systems but with a different keyboard! And they can be programmed to any country. They don't even have to change the power supply!

It isn't just the UK that is ripping people off. I've just come back from a delightful trip to Toronto, Canada. People often tell me, "We know where Toronto is, you don't need to mention Canada."

Well 'scuse me, but I want to make sure that people are aware that I'm talking about the Canadian one, and not any of the cites of the same name in Iowa, Florida, Kansas, South Dakota or Ohio.

Back to the plot. Alcohol seems to be a problem in Canada. Purchasing it that is. It is all controlled by the government. Interestingly, a can of beer is about $2 in Canada (the US/Canadian exchange is about on a par these days), and here in the US you can get a four pack of the same beer for about $2.50. I can't see me moving to Canada any time soon despite winning a nice sum at the Casino at Niagra Falls.

Lot to be said for the US of A. Best country I ever lived in. We have our problems, but I'll miss it when I move next year.

Here endeth today's lesson.