Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Magical rip-off season is upon us....

Well, when I say the magical rip-off season is upon us, there ain't nowt (double negative, incorrectly spelt - how hip is that?) magical about it and it tends to extend all year round in the UK anyway.

We've all read how mystically, the prices of even the most negatively-starred hotels in London have been drawn into the Olympic net by the likes of Thomas Cook, who are quite happy to put a package together whereby you receive two tickets to the backgammon quarter finals and a double shoebox, cleverly made up to resemble a hotel room, in some far-flung West London suburb, miles away from the Olympic action.

Had you made your own arrangements in time to get the event tickets, it would have cost £21.12 a ticket and £49 for the room, but thanks to the wonderful incentive package put together by Thomas Cook, you get both, plus a free breakkfast (a voucher to the fast-food emporium with clowns and yellow arches) for a mere £1700.

And they get away with it. Because they are official. In very much the same way as Robert Mugabe's acquisition of a nice little farm on the outskirts of Harare, one that wasn't his to begin with, is similarly official.

An acquanitance of mine, the broadcaster and all-round good entertaining egg Mike Harding, reports that the ferry companies plying their sick bags across the Irish Sea have come up with a new wheeze to justify the hike in their prices during out of school term travel time. By sheer coincidence, the price of diesel, that which drives the barges, vasty increases at these times, and they have to pass the price on to the customer. Yes.

But what I question - and I was a 'victim' of this on holiday in Menorca care of the former Going Places some years ago - is, that while the incredible "high season" rip-off, mark-up is put on all holiday prices (the law of supply, demand and ensuring the great British public is ripped off) during non-term time, the actual service you receive, in completely more congested holiday resorts, is actually far lower than it is during off-season, when there are fewer people around and prices are more normal.

Why do we put up with shoddier service at a more expensive price?

For example, if you wanted an extra pillow, you have a far better chance of getting it when on your £30 a night low-season holiday than you have when on your identical £55 high-season holiday!

And there's more of a chance off season that your hot food will be served hot, you'll get through airport controls far more quickly, and in fact, your holiday will be a far better experience all round.

At half the price!

Proof, if any is needed, that the buying public is intrinsically quite thick-skinned. Or just thick.

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