A FORMER colleague once told me that when you receive good news, you must be cau-tious as bad news would most likely follow.
That advice is probably true with regard to the announcement last month that civil servants would get a pay hike of between 7.5% and 35% from next month.
The news proved to be a major source of cheer not only to the 1.2 million government servants but also a significant number of oppor-tunists – unscrupulous coffeeshop owners and hawkers.
The latter moved swiftly to exploit the situation by immediately raising the price of beverages and food although the salary revision would only be effective two months later.
The move affected mainly those in the lower- and middle-income groups who patronise stalls and restaurants for their daily meals.
While the more greedy traders seized the opportunity to increase prices overnight, others had a different strategy to take customers – and even the authorities – for a ride.
To avoid being fined by the authorities for overpricing, they have retained the old prices. However, they have reduced the quantity of the servings of the food and beverages.
In the case of drinks, they have either switched to using smaller glasses or you would find your cup or glass is only three-quarters full.
Upon closer observation, I noticed that even the size of roti canai, chappati and thosai at these outlets had shrunk.
It is the same for other food such as nasi lemak and chicken rice. In the case of prawn mee, the quantity of prawns and even noodles was much less than a few weeks ago.
The fact is that although the prices of these items remain unchanged, their serving sizes have diminish- ed.
Over at the marketplace, traders nowadays are trying to hoodwink customers by selling items in packs of 500g or 1kg.
When I told a trader to weigh again a pack of tomatoes said to be 1kg, the scale showed a reading of 920g, 80 grams short of what it was being sold for.
This sort of “daylight robbery” must be addressed by the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry immediately.
Perhaps there should be a guide on the standard cup, glass, bowl or plate for eateries so that traders cannot change the size of their crockery as and when they like.
The ministry must also compel traders to have a weighing scale beside ready-packed food items so that customers can verify imme-diately the actual weight of such items.
I guess the only way we can reduce cheating by unscrupulous traders is by mixing our own drinks and preparing our own breakfast to eat at home or at the workplace.
So, folks, perhaps we should start utilising that pantry at our work-place more often.
And, yes, we must also take out that percolator lying in the storeroom and put it to good use instead of drinking extra-sweet teh tarik and iced Milo at the eateries.