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Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Gouging Gods

Ah, ha, now we have a story that I can get my teeth into. Price gouging.

I don’t mean somebody raising prices 10, 20 or even 50% percent, when his closest competitor runs out of a product. I don’t mean when a hurricane devastates a region, leaving people without electricity, heat, food, water or shelter.  I’m not talking about folks without transportation because their cars are stacked, one upon another, the buses and taxies not navigating the streets for all the debris or when the subways are submerged with seawater. I don’t even mean when the dwellings are so damaged living there is out of the question.

No, I’m not talking about when life as we know it has ceased to exist and homo sapiens are relegated to foraging and scrounging the land for the necessities of life, just to get bye. And opportunists are milking every ounce of profit from dwindling resources, because some have more, to pay more for less, no matter the consequences to the have-nots. Nor am I talking about gougers denying the basics of life to those who cannot pay. 

What I’m talking about are The Super Bowl, The World Series and my personal pain-in-the-ass event, Hot August Nites in Reno, Nevada, the Gouging Gods

Now you can argue that nobody needs to go to the Super Bowl or the World Series. Nor do they have to endure more than one day of inflated room charges, ridiculous parking fees or outrageous admission for the privilege of sitting through 60 minutes of action and about 3 hours of ‘instant replays’, fouls, penalties, T.V. commercials and the ever dreaded ‘Half time Show’.

But if you’re ever unfortunate enough to break down, visit relatives, plan a wedding at the ‘Tunnel of Love Chapel’ or just happen to stumble into Reno, Sparks, Carson City, Lake Tahoe or Winnemucca, Nevada on the last weekend in July thru the first week in August, God help you.

You’d best have a fist full of cash, a bottomless credit card, or a rich uncle living near a Western Union if you’re going to exist for those 14 days. Those two weeks, beginning the week before, the weekend of and a few days after make hurricane Katrina plus hurricane Sandy together look like someone passing gas, in El Segundo, after a bad burrito.

Now you could argue that no one needs to go to Hot August Nites. That is true, but no one needs to go to Mecca, the Vatican, Nashville or Branson either, but it seems they do, just as lemmings to the sea. But while the Mecca through Branson are believed to be religious pilgrimages-- both Eastern and Western-- nothing quite compares to the homage given to the automobile in Northwestern Nevada.

Hence my irritation for the price gouging. You think doubling or tripling a hotel room rate irrational. How about multiplying it by 10 then adding injury to insult, forcing you to take Friday, Saturday and Sunday if you’re unlucky enough to need a room on Thursday. Nevermind the $3 and $4 mini-bottles of water, the $10 parking fees to watch a three hour cruise or inflated menu prices, just try to get on the normally free WiFi for less than $25 bucks.

The pirates in Reno and Sparks make hucksters in Long Island look like amateurs. At least in Long Island you can walk away from the disaster area in less than an hour, but you cannot drive away from the wholesale rip offs of Reno in the same time.

So the next time a tornado, hurricane or earthquake ravages someone’s home town, ignore the gouging. Whatever or wherever it is, it doesn’t hold a candle to the gouging in Northern Nevada every summer. And the absence of prosecution for these offenses is not lost on this Dumbplumber.




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