I saw a bus stop advertisement for a Parmesan-Kanahampurilainen (Parmesan Chicken Burger) from a Finnish burger chain and thought how good it looks in the picture. I was hungry and, for 3.50Ã¢â€šÂ¬, how could I go wrong, right?
Wrong! Unlike how the picture led me to believe, there were only two tiny strips of chicken inside. They were strategically placed around the edges of the bun to make it look full. But nothing was in the middle except some goopy filler.
Naturally, meat is the most expensive ingredient in any such food product. All other ingredients are dirt-cheap in comparison. I don’t think Finnish consumers have figured this out yet…..but then again, restaurants are relatively empty in Finland. So maybe they have.
There were many well-dressed people waiting in line, so I promptly seized the opportunity to educate by confronting the manager standing behind the counter. I asked, “I ordered a Kanahampurilainen and there are only two tiny pieces of chicken in there?! Where’s the rest?!” Then I proclaimed, “This is dishonest advertising!! ”
My point wasn’t to insult the manager, because I knew the poor guy was only doing his job; he can’t influence the standard product. Nevertheless, I felt the need to make a point when he refused to understand what I was complaining about. So, I took the tiny chicken strips off the bun and set them on the gleaming metal counter.
Then I turned-around to those waiting in-line and said, “Look, I just paid 3.50Ã¢â€šÂ¬ for these two tiny strips of chicken.”
I’ve spoken Finnish all my life, but I have a distinct accent and particular word usage pattern that gives me away every time. Knowing that people are always curious about my funky linguistics, I asked those in line, ” Tunnetteko englantilaisen sanan ‘Ripoff’?”
Of course they knew the word.
Then I told the manager that he could keep the
burger two tiny strips of chicken. “Saat pitää.” I turned and walked-out, leaving a little mess on the counter. It felt good because I did it without getting angry and hopefully relayed an important message about consumerism to those standing around me. Unfortunately, it didn’t solve my hunger problem.
In hindsight, it was my own responsibility to first go home and check the product’s ingredients and weights online. I take full responsibility for my mistake and don’t blame nor accuse the Finnish burger chain for doing anything wrong.
One might say that take-away food is an American invention. In the US, I’ve always received more-than-enough for my money—to a fault! But that’s never the case in Finland; there’s always a ripoff.
Näh. I prefer to explain the ripoff using this Tax Wedge graph. As the wedge gets bigger, restaurants (suppliers) aim to get higher prices from consumers (demanders). And of course, lower sales volume results.
To avoid lower sales volume, Finnish restaurants can fudge the equation by offering ‘seemingly reasonable’ prices but delivering less product—in many cases, deceptively so.
With a big tax-wedge, the restaurants’ high-price position is always secure; high taxes prevent new competitors from entering the marketplace.
From now on, I’ll go to McDonalds when I have the urge for a Kanahampurilainen. But thanks to the big Tax Wedge in Finland, I’ll still need to pay the ÃƒÂ¼ber-high Finn-price. Nevertheless, at least McD’s seems concerned with offering an honest product. I suppose they have uniform, international standards for these things.
Just don’t anyone tell McD’s management team that Finnish consumers don’t really care about getting value for their money. It’ll ruin everything.
UPDATE: All this talk about food made me hungry for a burger last night. So I went to McD’s in Kamppi. I normally buy an El Maco Jr. with small fries and drink. Cost: 4.95Ã¢â€šÂ¬ Well, I was informed that Jr.-sized burgers aren’t available in the evening, so I was bumped into the next price category. Cost: 6.45Ã¢â€šÂ¬. I guess their strategy is to scam an extra 1:50Ã¢â€šÂ¬ from each customer—most of whom have probably already had a few drinks by that time of night.
At least McD’s is up-front about it and used no deception. They need to make a profit somehow, so they simply narrowed their selection into the higher price range. Unfortunately, businesses in Finland can’t avoid this type of pricing due to the highly-taxed and highly-regulated operating climate.
Finland is full of these little ripoffs—they are usually much worse! And they generally aren’t included in international Purchasing Power surveys. Nevertheless, they cost each Finnish resident thousands-of-Euros each year—thousands more than what people of other countries need to spend.
No wonder Finland remains poor.