Thursday, April 02, 2009

FBO: 'Foreigner Prices in Rhode Island? Sacre Bleu!'

One of the more frustrating things faced on the roadways del mundo is the concept of charging the people who have crossed the globe to see your place and chip in money into the local economy, MORE for the same services locals get. 'Foreigner pricing.' It just sounds bad to say it. Of course, some argue that taxes locals pay warrant a 'discount' on their part -- but it can sometimes feel more opportunistic even slightly xenophobic.

Russia, home to some of the world's most expensive destinations, is an obvious example, a nation clamoring for NATO status but holding onto Soviet pricing policies where foreigners sometimes pay, according to In Your Pocket guides, six to 20 times the local rate. Late year, I traveled through the Russian Far East, and frequently paid five times the amount for dated Russian museums with Russian-language exhibits geared to Russians, who rarely go. At one hotel, I paid an extra $20 for being non-Russian. After awhile, you sort to feel cheated, even unwelcome. I began to wonder whether, for example, New York City should hold a 'Russian prices day' when Russians had to pay $80 not $20 to get into sites like the Museum of Modern Art.

In Cambodia, according to the blog Cambodia Calling, foreigners pay 500% the fee for 'garbage collection,' tacked onto electricity bills. Worn out by the discrepancy, and the fact that rubbish is just thrown into piles, the blogger started a compost pile to deal more responsibly with what they throw out. Good for them.

In today's New York Times, I see that Massachusetts and Rhode Island have gotten into the act, allowing locals 'discounted' tolls if they use the E-Z Pass. Now federal courts are saying it may be unconstitutional, due to 18th-century clauses to help provide a common market between the newly formed states.

This is different (it's a discount for local commuters, not an extra tax for outsiders), but I agree it needs to be reversed.

And it can be. I've seen such pricing discrimination change in other places. On my first trip to Bulgaria, in 2004, foreign prices ran rampant -- now, as Bulgaria's joined the EU -- they don't exist.
--> The FBO charges the same to all observers for its content.

FBO Admin
Mobile/Semi-Permanent HQ -- Brooklyn, NY


Bronc said...

I'd have to disagree on the EZ Pass. In order to get an EZ pass, you have to pay up front ($20-80), so the government is making interest on your money until you use it. In addition, it is cheaper for the turnpike to have you use an EZ pass rather than pay an employee to make change or empty a coin bin. A discount is certainly warranted in this case.

THE FBO said...

But that discount is only given to locals. Someone from Connecticut can't get the same discount even with the EZ Pass! Seems wrong to me.

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