On the heels of my ATM post, where I wrote about the prerogative that Bank of America has to charge whatever they darn-well please for their service (and my right to never use that service, a right I have personally exercised 100% of the time), I want to post a corollary. There are laws on the books of many states (maybe all states, for all I know) against “price-gouging”. These laws “protect the consumer”. You know, time of national emergency, and some gas station doubles its gas prices, and then some government wonks come down on them for “price-gouging”. Sounds right.
Wrong. Let the market work itself out, folks, because it will. When a business treats me wrong, I do not patronize that business. Period. And I have a long memory. When I was a freshman in college, I went into a drugstore right around the corner from my dorm, a drugstore I’d visited several times previously. The lady behind the counter had a reputation of smarting-off to us college students, and this time, she was extremely rude to me. I promptly went back to my dorm, wrote a letter to the owner, informed him that absent a sincere apology, he’d seen the last of my face in that store, and mailed it. I never heard back from him, and I never darkened the door of that store during the rest of my college years, though it would have been convenient so many times. I can reference the same type thing happening several other times in my life: I made the choice not to patronize a business that dealt unfairly with me.
And so the public would have the same right to publicize, and refuse to patronize, stores that engaged in price-gouging. Such businesses bear the economic burden associated with their choice to “price-gouge”.
Is “price-gouging” nice? No. But should it be illegal? Of course not.