Saturday, February 12, 2011

Editorial -- Is that US $$ or Belize $$?

In the matter of a couple weeks while going about my daily life I was quoted prices from a cab driver, a realtor, a tour guide operator and a water-taxi business for their services. Twice I purchased their services only to find out afterwards that the price quoted was in US currency, not in Belize currency. What the heck? What country are we living in people? Hello, THIS IS BELIZE!
This policy of marking prices in US dollars is not only confusing, but is a clever way to lead people into thinking they are getting a deal, since the common exchange ratio is two BZ$ to one US$. The conversation usually goes, “Thanks, I can afford that! What, you mean US$? What? You mean EACH person?” If a vendor’s price is in US$ then it is their responsibility to be up-front and clear about that from the beginning, not after the service has been rendered, and frankly I think this practice should be abolished all together, if not outlawed!
This practice is not limited to tourists and “clear-skinned” people, as there are many Belizeans who complain of the same problem amongst themselves. The bottom line is the country we live in is Belize, and our currency is Belizean, not US.
For those who argue that they mark their prices as such because the bulk of their business is catering to tourists, since when is every tourist from the US? Do they also quote their prices in Euros? Tourists who visit foreign countries certainly know that the currency is different and they are prepared to make money conversions accordingly. Since the US dollar seems to be a common denominator, many visitors do use that when deciphering costs, but I am sure there are others who have to calculate the exchange rates of more exotic foreign currency to BZ as well.
When a vendor quotes a price it should always be in Belize currency (after all, this is where we are), and for those who are mathematically challenged or just clueless, adding “that equals x in US$” can be helpful, but one has to wonder if they refrain from mentioning a price in BZ$ because essentially the amount quoted is DOUBLE, which can scare off a customer. Instead they wait to drop that little bomb on the unsuspecting consumer after they have already enjoyed the product, and more often than not the consumer reluctantly pays the difference.
Let’s keep it simple, when in Belize let’s keep the currency to her Royal Majesty the Queen and leave the Benjamin Franklin lingo to the good ole US of A.

1 comment:

richies said...

I first ran into that at the restaurant at Ramon's. I wasn't pleased and didn't return.

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