Saturday 14 September 2019

Competition or Collusion?

This weekend I am interstate, I'm visiting family in Adelaide and using my brothers computer to write this. I was hoping to move some furniture at the same time so I contacted some hire companies to hire a moving van.

I called Budget, one of the hire companies and spoke to a women in the Philippines who quoted me $109 which I queried as it seemed to cheap. The women insisted that the price was correct, but I didn't book a vehicle as it was smaller than I wanted. I then rang Eurocar who quoted me $642 for the exact same thing. I then called Thrifty and they said I had to hire the vehicle for 5 days at a cost of $1800!

The next day I went into my nearest Budget store to see if it really was $109, it wasn't. The Indian man who served me told me I had to hire the vehicle for 2 days and it would also cost $1800. I said no thanks and went home to see what quote the call centre would give me now. I called and spoke to Mr. X ( in these call centres they all have fake English names, some have very good English and others can hardly pronounce their fake names correctly), Mr. X is neither his real or his fake name.

I told him what I was after and then I asked him for a quote and he said to me that the computer system was down and that he would call me back when it came back online. I waited and waited and I was getting worried so I decided to call Avis. I called and the operator said his name was Mr. X, that's a coincidence I thought. I told him what I was after and then he said 'our computer system is down' at which point I realised it was no coincidence, I was speaking to the exact same operator!

I started laughing at which point Mr. X asked me 'is that you Mark!'!

At which point he started laughing and why not.

So now I know that Budget and Avis use the exact same call centre in the Philippines, the question is how many of these 'competitors' use this call centre?

Just how competitive is this industry?

I'd also like to know why an Australian in Australia trying to hire a vehicle to use in Australia, needs to speak to someone in the Philippines?

From the prices I was quoted I felt like I was buying gold instead of hiring a vehicle for a day. In the end I didn't hire anything. We are supposed to have a free enterprise economic system, whereby competition should drive down prices and that is our reward for the inequities of the system. There is no such thing as perfection in human affairs, most people accept that. Economics is no exception. Today the old arguments do not work, what justification exists for us being exploited by corporations for the exclusive benefit of corporations?

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