ARE U.S. PRICES SHORT-CHANGING CANADIANS?

For the past five years the price of our loonie has been climbing and is now beyond par with the U.S. dollar.  Yet go into a Canadian bookstore and what will you find.  The new Danielle Steele book is priced at $28 U.S. and $33 Canadian.  The paper back edition of Charles Foran’s biography of Mordecai Richler is listed $21.95 south of the border but buyers in Canada are dinged $24.95.

What gives?  A stronger  Canadian dollar should benefit Canadian consumers, shouldn’t it?  Price gaps that  disadvantage Canadians are a continual source of irritation.

And of couse you get hosed at the other end too.  Last week I had a savoury plate of falellfel at the Cavendish mall.  All if had in my pocket was an American $20 bill.  Naturally the restauranteur  took off 10 percent.

It may be there are reasonable explanations  for some price differences, but there are undoubtedly other reasons that don’t stand up to scrutiny.  Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has asked a Senate committee to look into this matter.  The committee should make it clear whether Canadians are being gouged, why and by whom.

Have you ever been short-changed?

Have you been charged more U.S when our loonie is worth more than their dollar?

Are U.S. prices short-changing Canadians?

What do you think?

What can we do about it?

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12 Comments »

  1. 1
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Although I take issue with the anti-American slant of the wording of Neil’s question the answer is “yes” we are being short-changed. Ripped-off is a better word.

    But we only have ourselves to blame. Gas prices here are more than 60% taxes. There are scant few Wal-Marts in Canada due to the anti-Americanism of our laws (especially in Quebec). So you end up paying so much more for the same goods.

    Did you know studies have shown that Wal-Mart has been the main factor in keeping inflation in check the last two decades in the U.S.?

    Canada needs more competition; that will bring prices down. Case in point: here in Vancouver there’s practically a sushi bar on every block. I’ve never seen such low prices for sushi ANYWHERE…and this in a city of sky-high prices for everything else.

  2. 2
    Neil McKenty Says:

    Tony,

    I notice you have nothing to say about the vicious way Walmart treats its workers. At least here in Canada we pay a living wage – along the lines of the social encyclicals of the Catholic church.

  3. 3
    Barbara Says:

    The way you phrased your question, Neil, did have an anti-American slant. No surprise there, alas. If anyone is short-changing Canadians, it is other Canadians. What is it Pogo said about looking for the enemy and finding it was us? That is why the Canadian government is looking into the matter. It happens in all countries, unfortunately. When I lived in Japan, imported stuff was many times more expensive. The same is true, although to a lesser extent, in Europe. I buy many books from Amazon.com rather than Amazon.ca because there is greater variety and even with exchange rates and duty, if any, it is cheaper. Go figure.

  4. 4

    I know several people who work for WalMart in both countries, and none of them are being treated badly by their company. Where do you get this stuff, Neil? And why do you believe it?

    But to the original question, I agree with Tony — we are being ripped off on price differences not only on books but also on movies and musical instruments. I won’t buy new books anymore, and I have a nice little chain of influence on both sides of the border for the others.

  5. 5
    Neil McKenty Says:

    Actually, Lady Janus, I know several Canadian communities who refused to have a Wallmart in their vmidst because of that company’s anti-labour policies.

  6. 6

    Well, Neil, you know “of” something and I know people directly involved. Whose information do you think carries more weight with me?

  7. 7

    There is a remedy to the prices of goods- Convert your Canadian money & then go and shop.
    I live ON the border and shop 99.9% in the USA, for groceries, & gas. I convert money before I go, to avoid any conflict. (Some places are still charging 10%)
    I like the restaurants here better and have more confidence in the cleanliness. (Just a little persona bug-a-boo).
    Almost all food is very cheap. Butter is a high 2.79 right now, milk 2.69 gallon, bread 99 cents. ALDI’s in Plattsburgh or Malone saves an add’l 30% over the Price Chopper (except meat).
    And boo-hoo, I plan to feel guilty as soon as the government stops building lakes and gazebo’s.
    BTW-I bought Quebec Maple syrup last week, for 3.99 (compared to 8.99 here.)
    It must have to do with certain industry subsidies…not good, eh?

  8. 8
    Neil McKenty Says:

    I should think the information that carries more weight with you depends entirely on you.

  9. 9
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Neil: if Wal-Mart treats its workers so “viviously” why are there usually hundreds of applicants for each Wal-Mart job opening whenever they open a new store?

  10. 10
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    In attempting to demonstrate how evil Wal-Mart is, Neil observes that communities often prevent Wal-Mart from opening stores in their midst. But we must ask ourselves: who gets hurt and who benefits?

    Primarily, it is poor people — the key target demographic of Wal-Mart — that are hurt because they are now forced to shop at Wal-Mart’s competitors and pay more for the same goods.

    Wal-Mart’s competitors — be they other multi-billion corporations or Mom and Pop operations — are NOT poor people but, rather, rich share holders or middle or upper middle class people.

    The law of unintended consequences rears its ugly head once again: all that preventing a Wal-Mart from entering a community does is force poorer people to give to those better off than themselves more of their hard-earned money than they otherwise would have to.

    Poor people subsidizing rich people…is that what you support, Neil?

  11. 11

    I think Tony owns this one. And I agree with him. From the standpoint of the consumer, Walmart is a boon. Also from the standpoint of those who need jobs that do not require seventeen bloody university degrees — “education” that is not only poretty useless for most people, but is so expensive that even those who need it cannot afford it!

    One of my friends who works for the local Walmart injured herself at a sporting event — not on the job. It took a year and a half before she was able to work again full time. Walmart not only held her job for her, with no loss of seniority, but they cooperated with her physicians and therapists with her part-time, returning-to-work schedule until she was healthy again! And then they held a welocme back party for her in the store!

    Yeah…so much abuse…phfffttt…

  12. 12

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