Dennis Jones is a Jamaican-born international economist, who has lived most of the time in the UK and USA, and latterly in Guinea, west Africa. He moved back to the Caribbean in 2007. This blog contains his observations on life on this small eastern Caribbean island, as well as views on life and issues on a broader landscape, especially the Caribbean and Africa.







**You may contact me by e-mail at livinginbarbados[at]gmail[dot]com**

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The cost of living is not just higher for the individuals.

Another Barbados blog, Bajan Reporter, posted an article on the well-known south coast roti house, Ackee Tree, stating that the restaurant would put on Facebook details of outstanding meal tabs, in a kind of "name and shame" way of getting paid (see link to Facebook). Failure to pay would lead to the debts being passed to a debt collection agency, it was reported. I am not really an investigative journalist, but I thought I would approach the owner of Ackee Tree, Martyn Field, to hear from him what was going on.

Martyn indicated that the report is true, and that over B$10,000 is outstanding. He has decided that rather than name and shame to start discussing with other bars and restaurants on the south and west Coast and to circulate the names of the debtors between them. He is sure that many of the same names are going to pop up. He has also been well informed that many of the culprits have formed a "Boycott the Blue Bench" group, wishing that the establishment suffers the ultimate ill-fate of closing down. Some even boast of owing other bars for well over a year and have no intention of paying their debts. Martyn reports that the circulation of the list has created quite a stir, both whipping up support and drawing wrath, in the middle is the bar with a low customer count at the worst time of the year.
I know how convenient it is to run up a tab with a favoured restaurant, but I also know that I am getting credit, and that prompt payment is essential to help that enterprise stay in business. It's the first time that I have come across this idea of "doing a runner" and not paying for meals.

However, Martyn then went on to discuss a different matter, that is further reaching, that of how small enterprises such as his are coping with increased costs. His restaurant faces a huge challenge with the price increases for flour, gasolene, rice, beef, rum and most everything else and soon to be chicken. He decided that rather than pass the price increases on to the customer at this time that Ackee Tree rotis, which are supposed to be 1lb should be that instead of the near 2lb version that was served before.Now the customer is getting that which is advertised. But wait. Now the complaints are abound that the rotis have gotten small and the prices have gone up. How do we win? he asks. Should he just pass on the price increases and put more pressure on the customer or stick to our advertised product.

He mentions that BS&T, which boast of million in profits is so price sensitive it has already increased the price of milk and other sundry items that has caused the pressure on the wider public. One would think that they are the ones who could absorb the increases for a bit longer than they have. It is indeed a challenge.

I have mentioned before that the prices of so many restaurants in Barbados were absurdly high that I have decided to boycott most of them. Ackee Tree is one where value for money really seems to have been the case. But it's easy to see that they are on a thin thread. It's hard enough to give good quality food and pleasant service. It's really hard to do with some of the price increases recently announced in Barbados. It's doubly hard when customers fail to do their part and just don't pay: it's theft. I look forward to seeing the list circulated, on Facebook or elsewhere, and would gladly help disseminate it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This whole problem is the owner's fault.

First if a client wants credit then a request for credit form should be used. In other words the client has to apply for credit otherwise all transactions are cash. Failure to pay call the Police.

The client details shoud be noted, name. address, telphone number,digital photo of the client,etc.

A statement informing the client of a 1 to 5% interset charge on outstanding balances, the time limit for paying outstanding should be indicated. A credit limit should be set. The client should be informed that all charges incurred in collecting outstanding balances they will have to bear it.

Once a client has reached his credit limit then no more credit should be extended until it has been paid. Initialy the credit limit should be very small and only increased if paid promply.

This is employed at the company where I am employed and it works well. Defaulters we take to Court.
As recently as two weeks we took a woman before the courts for an amount and she had to pay it.