The monopolistic price gouging by certain suppliers and venues is poised to cause significant and lasting repercussions within the industry and the following is a real example that calls it out!
While the economy’s impact is substantial, it’s the exploitative practices of a few that will truly set the industry back for years to come. I’ve consistently highlighted the unjustified price hikes and opportunistic tactics adopted by companies, initially justified by factors like Covid-19, labour, and transportation challenges. However, many of these excuses have lost their validity, revealing these actions as a blatant abuse of their dominant position.
From contractors to exhibitors, the outcry against these practices is deafening. Exhibitors are resorting to downsizing and reallocating funds to alternative marketing methods, a response that will affect numerous stakeholders. For suppliers, some have already closed or transitioned to other sectors due to these practices (creating another issue for another piece later). Those who remain silent do so out of fear of potential repercussions.
Recently, I was shown an invoice which, in consultation with a contractor, I’m contemplating referring to the Department of Fair Trading. Although I won’t mention the supplier’s name, they are a prominent exhibition supplier.
Trade show stands are sold as space only or space plus shell scheme. The basic shell scheme package may or may not include power and/or lighting.
Say you wanted to add power to your stand – the electrical contractor would run a couple of leads and piggypack them off the feed to an adjacent stand. So the cost to cover hire and maintenance of those leads plus an onsite electrician to install (along with all the others in the show)? You might expect that to be less than $100.
How would you feel about being billed $667.59 for 2 x 10 amp power outlets?
It happened recently and here is the quote and receipt for it.
So let’s break this down
- $420 for the hire of 2 x 240v 10 amp outlets
- $35 Damage Waiver against said power leads
- $151.20 Labour to install
My son frequently claims I’m out of touch when it comes to what things costs , but in the context of monopolistic price gouging, I’m keenly attuned and I question when is enough enough? Reflect on this: a basic extension lead can be procured for around $10 and occupies minimal space. Yet, this supplier charges an exorbitant $210 for such a lead. To compound matters, an additional $186.90 is tacked on for a Damage Waiver and labour & transport, even when the contractor is in full control of the supply for the entire event. My question is what does the $420 cover if it excludes the labour to install and transport?
The intrigue deepens when we consider the cost of a crate containing hundreds of leads, the rarity of lead damage, and the lifespan of these items – often exceeding a decade. The mathematics suggest that many of us are in the wrong line of work.
However, the core issue lies in the complicity of event organisers, who allow these practices to persist. They must step up and take responsibility. While I acknowledge that many associations and organisers feel held hostage due to suppliers’ attitudes, particularly from the company in question, this is an untenable situation.
And the suppliers who are doing these kind of activities, do they have any passion and empathy for the industry or are they just totally ruthless and self-centred about margin?
It raises the question of whether the new association, currently perceived as indulging in an endless series of social engagements, will muster the resolve to confront this issue before it erupts into a major investigation, potentially seizing headlines in mainstream media. It would indeed be refreshing to witness this representative body prioritising the industry’s collective well-being over superficial functions that offer only short-term gratification.
With or without external intervention, these exploitative activities must cease. Our industry’s survival and ongoing triumph hinge on decisive action to halt these unscrupulous, opportunistic practices.