Being at a loose end a few days ago at about 7.15am we decided to get some breakfast in a hotel on Dublin’s north-side. Outside the restaurant within the hotel there was only a welcome sign, but no indication of what was on offer, or the cost. We had joined the short queue when the gentleman in front of us asked and was told that for non-residents the breakfast was €20.50.
Our immediate comment amongst ourselves was that €41 would be far too much to pay for breakfast for 2. After a brief hesitation we left. Having no breakfast was a more desired option that paying that kind of money.
The “brief hesitation” got me thinking.
We made a “value judgement” immediately and without seeing the sumptuous delights that might have been on offer – breakfast in exchange for €20.50 wasn’t a fair deal in our minds. We didn’t HAVE to have breakfast there and then, so we left the hotel without giving them our business.
I wonder did the hesitation after the value judgement come from what I think is a concern deeply ingrained in the Irish psyche that we don’t like people to think ill of us. A great example of this was the recent furore over the infamous French (ladies) Letter in the Sunday Independent.
Though I knew were walking away because our value judgement said that €20.50 was too much for breakfast, since we hadn’t voiced our concern or decision to the restaurant staff, no one else would know that.
Was the hesitation because of a concern that the others in the queue who seeing us walking away might have thought that we couldn’t afford the €20.50 for breakfast, or were too cheap and mean to pay it – rather than the fact that we simply decided we just didn’t expect a value breakfast for that kind of money.
Had we stayed in the queue, and paid the €20.50 for breakfast, I think we could legitimately be accused of helping to continue the belief of many* that we’re living in “Rip Off Ireland”. Had we stayed, we’d have ignored our own value judgement and paid over the odds for something merely because of what we thought others might have been thinking.
New expensive car anyone – just because the neighbours or work colleagues have one? New branded sound system or LCD tv that you don’t really need? New extension to your already generously sized house? Fork out for expensive gym or golf club membership because everyone else you know has? New expensive holiday to somewhere because you’re neighbours went there last year? Shop in Tesco, Superquinn or Donnybrook Fair because you don’t want to be seen dead outside a Lidl or an Aldi?
It ain’t cheap keeping up with the Jones’. To borrow a little from Burger King – it’s your money after all – spend it your way!