A couple of years ago, I was working in Laos and this cafe I used to like to go for breakfast had these interesting chairs. They were these thick cardboard barrels with Azithromycin written on the side, 60kg. I realised I was sitting on an empty container of paracetamol (or panadol). I should explain a bit further - over there you can walk into a pharmacy and buy one pill (which most people do), but I didn't realise the scale of it. For instance one 500mg paracetemol might cost 80 Kip, which is less than a cent.
Curious I started digging around using the package number and was astounded to learn you could buy one of the barrels from India for about $100. That's for 60kg!!! Think about that the next time you pick up 24 tablets of panadol for $5 - the exact same chemical. In fact I found out the home brand sold by supermarkets here is made in the same factory.
If a recipe calls for kaffir lime leaves you can buy about six of them for 4 bucks at the supermarket. Have you ever seen a kaffir lime tree? - there's a reason it's called a tree, at that going rate a kaffir lime tree is worth say $50k !!! Wtf? If you need kaffir lime leaves it's better to go down to the nursery and buy one tree for $10.
And the list goes on and on. $2.50 for a can of baked beans? When I was in England 15 years ago you could buy a tin for a few pence, now they're like a pound each. If you have ever cooked beans yourself a handful of them will make about 4 to 5 tins.
Not to mention that it is incredibly suspicious that these supermarkets are routinely having half price sales. In order to do that, what sort of price gouging are they doing at the normal price? I've never worked it out, except to notice that one week it's Coles, the next week Woolworths, then IGA get their turn. Without fail.
And the final insult - a struggling bicycle shop a minutes walk from my house. I needed an adaptor for a pump to inflate a tire. They pull out this box with hundreds of little steel adaptors and ask for 10 bucks for one adaptor. I mean I want to support local business but not outright thievery. I looked online and you could buy the exact same box for about $3 (250 adaptors). The shop shut down not long after.
Anyhow please share your stories of what you perceive as blatant ripoffs.