Merge's Blog

What happens when people can’t see the “big picture” – part 2

Earlier this week I told you about a recent experience that made me question (again) why it is that so many people lose their sense of perspective and are unable to see the “big picture” when it comes to making good decisions. I said in the last blog post that I had come across two recent examples, so here is the second one now.

Many of you know that I make my home in Calgary, Alberta, an area that experienced devastating floods last week as the two major rivers in the city overflowed their banks. Over 100,000 people were evacuated from just the downtown core alone, and as I write this, residents all over the city are only now beginning to dig themselves out of the mud. As the flood waters began to rise last Thursday, an unethical minority of merchants began to raise their prices in an attempt to profit from the desperation of people seeking basic supplies such as water, ice and food. As the price-gouging continued, some enraged citizens took to social media to complain about paying $49 for 24 bottles of water and $20 for a bag of ice. And they posted photos online as proof!

So here’s what I’m thinking Mr. Shopowner: you just made a few extra bucks off someone else’s crisis which added to this week’s sales. But what did you do to next week’s, next month’s, next year’s sales? Your unethical actions are now out there in the world of the Internet for posterity! And you can be very certain that I will never shop at your establishment. And I’m willing to bet that a whole lot of people won’t either. You lost your perspective in your greed for the short-term, but you damaged your opportunities in the long-term. You missed the big picture!!

Well? What do you think? Any idea why people can’t see beyond the immediate present? Would love to hear your thoughts in the Comments section below.


  • Merge,
    I believe in this case you did not watch what this person complained about on the internet. You can see the red mark cleverly disguises that the 24 bottles the person purchased were only $1.91 per bottle. Not unlike an amount you would pay for bottled water at any convenience store. I have paid much more not in a flood area. I have been in Downtown Vancouver at a major grocery store that sold Aquafina for more.

  • Good catch Howard! Don’t you think the store should have charged for a flat when you’re buying 24 bottles though? Particularly given the crisis circumstances that were happening in the region at that time?

  • I think Merge’s point is a good one. If companies had gone the other way and put essential supplies like water on sale because of the flood, they would have garnered a lot of positive publicity and gained a great deal of customer loyalty. That alone would have significantly increased their long-term profits.

  • Joan, some companies did, and went even further! I was so proud to see some local merchants handing out free water, coffee and food to victims, first-responders and later when the clean-up started, to volunteers as well! I am wiling to bet that these merchants gained some new LOYAL customers as a result of their actions!


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