Friday, April 11, 2008

Envy and greed...Filinvest partners with Alabang Town Center and Madrigal

My favorite coffee is the fresh brew at UCC.

I used to frequent UCC at Westgate Alabang Filinvest, but since the started charging P15.00 for parking, it's been a turn-off. No, not UCC, but Filinvest in general.

It's not like that the Westgate Alabang Filinvest (WAF) is a mall altogether, similar to Alabang Town Center, SM Southmall or Festival Mall. It's just a small area where food and services are offered. Akin to The Fort strip in Bonifacio High, Taguig City. What I don't understand is why in heaven's name do customers who bring in business to these establishments have to PAY for parking? Shouldn't that come free? I mean, it's not like we go to the restaurant to sit down and do nothing! Duh!!!

But the Filinvest people are probably learning from the greedy Ayala neighbors. Greed is as contagious as envy. Because they see their Ayala and Madrigal neighbors profiting from simply parking in the area, they have got to get a share of the pie too!

I noticed that I was the only one having breakfast there, when it used to be that when I get to the restaurant at 830AM, it's usually teeming with people. And I found out from the waitress and manager that the sales and the number of people coming into WAF had markedly dropped since Filinvest started charging parking fee.

There goes the last area in Alabang that does not charge for parking.

What is it with the mall owners that they need to charge for parking? The Alabang Town Center for example has a concierge booth, that's practically useless, except the need to employ people to stand there and look like if you get lost in the small mall, you can always ask them for assistance. Why can't the mall owners strike a deal with the merchandisers on validating the parking tickets or provide free parking to those who patronize their establishments? You can always opine to me that it's only P15.oo and if I can afford to spend P30,000 then the P15 is only drop change. But I can always throw back the argument to those that argue this way. Because I spend so much already in the establishments, someone has got to moderate their greed. Provide the customers a slack! Give the P15 back as token for doing business with your establishment.

Imagine all the banking establishments at the Madrigal, ATC and Filinvest area where you need to pay P15.00 for a bank transaction. My golly! The interest rate on the pittance savings account of the average Juan de la Cruz isn't even big enough to cover for the parking fee.

I understand the situation of the mall owners on freebie shoppers. The latter are those that simply hang out in the malls for a whiff of the airconditioning system and don't purchase anything at all. There is a system where you can weed this out and this is easily done by validating parking tickets when you shop in the mall.

But greed is the prime mover of all things. And the mall owners need to moderate their greed. It simply is poor economics to be siphoning off from both parties - the customer and the merchandiser. At ATC alone, there have been so many merchandisers that have come and gone. Of course, the mall owners wouldn't care how many merchandisers came and left. But merchandisers pay for common space, pay for rent, pay for security, electricity, garbage, water and a certain percentage of what they earn!

Just imagine if you had 5000 cars parked on a weekday, that would rake in already P75,000. On weekends, that would be 50,000 cars. That would mean P750,000 on Saturday and Sunday alone. These are regular weekends. Do the math.

I thought that the government wanted to do something about this situation, unfortunately, like many government officials in the country, someone just got paid to shut-up. But knowing the "connections" of these people with government, you all know the story of moderating greed. Our government officials shoo it under the rug if they need to. In the Philippines, politics is a living.

If you think you agree with me on this matter, speak up and let your friends know. Don't patronize malls that require you to pay when you actually patronize their merchandisers anyway. The merchandisers on the other hand should try to work with the mall owners in extending some slack to those that shop with them. Makati Supermarket for example validates parking tickets in selected parking areas. So why can't they? It's not like Rustan's is so poor (with their designer items and Designer Boulevard selling clothing at exhorbitant prices!). We should have a week where we boycott ALL the malls that charge a parking fee to show our indignation! Let's see how this will affect the business climate.

Envy is a basic evil that becomes contagious. Unless we do something now, it will spread like wild fire. And it all begins with Greed.

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