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OPINION: Bill Walton, Caveat Emptor

Things are seldom what they seem: buyers and sellers be aware
20180520 vendor walton

I find it a fun exercise to think back – say 62 years – to Grade 10 Latin when I am looking for a title to a poem or article. Caveat emptor meaning buyer beware came to mind the other day when trying to book a hotel room. Let’s say in the fictional town of Alicetown at the White Pine Resort and Spa to protect the real business.

Dialing the suggested telephone number, and I suppose the same thing might happen if you tried to book online, we were told that there were no rooms available for our date. The nearest rooms were in Barrie – would we like to book a room there? The person at this call centre (not the Spa) was not very polite or helpful – having a bad day and not being monitored for training purposes - I suppose.

Being resourceful, my friend tried calling the Spa directly and found two rooms available without any problem. This was another case of Caveat Venditor – or seller beware. A CBC news report about a hotel on Vancouver Island had just told the story of a marketing company posting a No Vacancy at a lodge – for two years. Something is going on in the marketing world that smells like very old cheese. (I can’t say ‘something is rotten in Denmark’ anymore since that is politically incorrect and against European Union rules).

We all know how marketing companies buy up rooms at hotels and then resell to the hotel or resort at the ‘last minute’ if they cannot sell them off at their marked-up price. It is sort of like the scalping tickets thing only for hotel rooms. These marketing people can make a good advertising case for their services and no doubt it helps the hotels fill rooms. However, how does the venditor know they are not being ripped off? Was the marketing company making more on the rooms in Barrie than in Alicetown?

I suppose it is a matter of both the emptor and venditor being aware (caveat) of the modern practises when buying or selling almost everything through our remote communications systems. I’ve generally had good luck buying things on the internet but it pays to do some comparison work before clicking on the PayPal or Visa symbol. Ah for the good old days when we shopped in person, touched or fondled things before we bought them. And maybe even bargained the price, saving a dollar or two.

Can you imagine searching the internet and then clicking on ad for a Ford and being directed to a Toyota? Or finding a site for a Cuban resort and being told they are all full but they have a place for you on Crete? Or looking for the Progressive Conservative election platform and being directed to the NDP platform because there is no PC platform available. Quelle horreur!

So just saying - caveat emptor et venditor.