John Docker: If the supply chain can genuinely knock-off 40 or 50 per cent are their profits too large?

Black Friday at Fareham Asda PPP-141128-103510001
Black Friday at Fareham Asda PPP-141128-103510001
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Only a matter of days to go before the big ‘rip-open’.

Or should that be the big rip off? The older I get the more it seems that both descriptions apply equally as well. The annual youthful frenzy of ripping off lovingly-applied wrapping paper, is matched only by the dedicated determination of manufacturers to relieve you of as much money as possible – as quickly as possible, whilst kidding you they are offering the bargain of a lifetime.

Apart from a few genuine lost leaders, can we really believe all these massive savings that seem to have become a permanent fixture in our lives? If the supply chain can genuinely knock-off 40 per cent – 50 per cent, surely it shouldn’t seek such bloated profits in the first place? I thought retailers had long-since been banned from the old trick of selling products at high prices in a remote spot in the Outer Hebrides to enable them to offer “genuine” reductions to the rest of us. But then I’m just a cynical old GOG. What do I know?

Recent reports of Premier Foods’ “pay to stay” policy, really do seem to be indicating bully-boy tactics coming to 
the high street. Surely it’s not only highly unethical but illegal to charge suppliers for buying their goods - rightly described by some suppliers as a form of blackmail. And if it isn’t, it jolly well should be. If a buyer in a company told suppliers they would have to pay him to continue to keep the business he would be guilty of fraud. Call it what you will “an investment to support our growth” is a bung by any other name. So what makes this different?

There have long-since been ‘grey’ areas with supermarkets exerting financial pressures on suppliers – where and how products are displayed, unrealistic price controls and so on. Now it seems, anything goes. Like the hotel that recently tried to charge a guest £100 for writing an unfavourable review. Apart from the ethics of that little gem, it seems to open up a whole new can of worms. How come a business can accept a credit card for a fixed transaction – then take further money without authorisation? Am I missing something here?

And in case you missed it, how’s this for the height of lunacy? France has been ordered by the European Court of Human Rights to 
pay up to £7,000 each to a bunch of convicted Somali pirates for keeping them in custody for 48 hours too long because – wait for it, their human rights were violated. There really is no hope for the human race!

And if you don’t believe 
me, take a look at Tony and Cherie Blair’s Christmas 
card photo - variously described as “creepy” and “weird.” If they can’t do better than that after 50 takes there’s no hope for any of us. But in all fairness I’ve sussed the reason for his teeth-gritting expression. Instead of cheese, he’s saying “Cherie, you’re on my foot!”