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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Exorbitant prices at Indian eateries

While the government is not in favour of increase in food prices, Indian eateries in the Klang Valley are charging customers exorbitant rates and are getting away with it.

KUALA LUMPUR: Fancy paying RM4.50 for a thosai, RM4 for a glass of iced Milo and warm water or RM4.50 for a plate of instant noodles?

The prices quoted above are not the price of food of the future but what is being charged by Indian restaurants in the Klang Valley now.

FMT, working on a public complaint on the prices of food at Indian eateries, did its own survey and found that the prices at these restaurants had skyrocketed and were well above the normal rates.

Last week, a businessman, who did not want to be named, complained of an Indian restaurant in Serdang, Selangor, charging exorbitant rates and which prompted FMT to check the average prices of food at Indian eateries.

He claimed he was charged RM6.50 for a ghee thosai and hot lime juice by a famous restaurant in Sri Serdang.

“Normally, I pay about RM3.50 for the same meal in other restaurants… food prices especially at Indian restaurants are not controlled. Rampant charges are imposed by those wanting massive profits,” he said.

While that might be the case in Serdang, a chicken puff and a glass of Milo in Brickfields, better known as Little India, cost RM5.70 although the same two items cost only RM2.50 at an Indian Muslim restaurant.

The restaurant owner, when approached over the high price, said that the chicken puff amounted to RM2.80 while the Milo was RM2.90.

Asked why the prices were high, he said this was because of the sugar and gas price hike recently.

He also defended the price saying that his restaurant was air-conditioned, thus the high price.

High rental the reason

Another restaurant in Damansara was found to be charging customers RM4.50 for a plate of instant noodle. For the record, the price of a packet of instant noodle is only 90 sen.

The restaurant owner, when approached, came up with another excuse for the high pricing, saying that it was because he had to pay high rental charges.

Another check at another Indian restaurant in Petaling Jaya revealed that an iced Milo and warm water can set a person back by RM4. The iced Milo is RM3.50 while it is 50 sen for the warm water.

The Malaysian Consumer Advisory Association president M Varatharajoo, when contacted, said the high prices imposed by Indian eateries was a long-standing problem which the government had failed to solve.

“Almost everyday, we get complaints from consumers on the high prices imposed by Indian restaurants. But there is no proper solution or enforcement by the government in settling the issue,” he told FMT.

He said the increase in sugar and fuel prices was being used by restaurant operators to defend the high food and drinks prices.

“Every time the petrol price goes up the government says it will not affect prices of food. But, on the other hand, restaurant operators say the hike in food prices is because of fuel price increase. When prices of food increase the authorities turn a blind eye,” he added.

Varatharajoo suggested that the government set up a national committee to monitor food prices at restaurants, especially Indian-owned eateries.

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