Wednesday, March 2, 2016

How PLCB buying power incompetence has cost you and me Billions

In my last post, PLCB "Buying Power" A Myth, (which you really should read first), I told you how for the past eighty-plus years the PLCB's incompetence in not negotiating or even trying to negotiate the best prices for Pennsylvania liquor prisoners should damn them for all eternity to the lowest circle of Hell, the one Dante reserved for people who betray those whom they should serve.

As always, we are going to provide some numbers to show what they've cost you. I'm going to use the largest selling whiskey in the state as an example, the standard 750 ml Jack Daniel's Old Number 7. (I thought I would use that because when the PLCB reads this (and they do), it might reinforce how to spell Jack Daniel's correctly, since they seem to have a problem with that.)

We are going to compare Pennsylvania prices with the state that has the 2nd highest liquor taxes in the country — Oregon, also a control state with uniform prices — and see who at least attempts to take care of their customers: the PLCB or the OLCC.

From the PLCB we know that (non-negotiated) cost +30% markup (required by law) + handling fee  (arbitrary) + 18% Johnstown Flood Tax (levied on the price) + rounding up (always up!) to nearest .49 or .99 (just because) = Retail Price. In this case, our bottle of JD has an initial cost of  $14.46. so putting that into our formula we come up with $14.46 + 30% ($4.34) + Handling fee ($1.20) + Flood Tax ($3.60) + Roundup ($.39) = Retail Price of $23.99.

Oregon doesn't give us their unit price so we have to work backwards from the retail price to figure out approximately what their cost price is. Oregon works on cost + 79.8% markup + $1.40 Handling fee + $.50 per bottle surcharge + roundup (to nearest .05). Oregon's shelf price for a 750 ml bottle of Jack Daniel's Number 7 is $24.95 or about $1 more than PA. Taking that $24.95 and working the formula backwards we subtract the roundup (which we'll call zero, because the price is already at $X.95, and we don't really know, except that it's not much). Next we subtract the surcharge of $.50, which gives us $24.45. Then we take out the handling fee of $1.40 to leave us with $23.05.  Taking out the 79.8% markup ($23.05/1.798) ends up with a cost price of $12.82 at most (it's unsure because of the unknown roundup, but it's less than a dime difference). Remember: PA is paying $14.46.

Hey, but Oregonians still pay more on the shelf, so Ha-ha! much is the PLCB's "non-negotiable" system of costing and pricing costing you, when you compare it to the unit price the OLCC is getting? Easy enough to find out. Put Oregon's cost into the PA formula. $12.82 +30% = $16.67; adding $1.20 gives you $17.87; drown it in the 18% Flood Tax, and that brings it to $21.08, then add the roundup…and you end up with $21.49, a $2.50 savings ON EACH BOTTLE, if only the PLCB did their job. PLCB incompetence in business cost PA consumers over $6.1 Million extra on Jack Daniel's alone last year.

You're getting screwed out of $2.50 every time you buy a bottle of Jack — remember, that's only one example — because the PLCB can't be bothered (or doesn't know how) to use their "massive volume leverage" to get the same price little Oregon does. Multiply that by how many millions of bottles they've sold since 1934, and that is how much they have cost the consumers of the state. An amount you have been paying extra for all these years because of PLCB ineptitude, laziness, and their "we don't give a shit, we're a monopoly" attitude. Far more than any so-called "profits" they have ever turned in.

Remember: this isn't a tax that's being levied on you that's going to benefit the Commonwealth, it's not a fee you're paying to the PLCB to pay for alcohol enforcement, it's not "profit" that gets sent to the general fund whether it's real or just hidden pension's money the PLCB doesn't know how to get from distillers, vintners, and importers. It's gone to line their pockets, exactly the people who the PLCB apologists rant and rave that privatization will somehow steal all your money to pay. Too late: they've already got it, had it for decades, thanks to the PLCB.
Is this the system you want to keep or do you want them to "modernize"? Because "modernization" and "flexible pricing" will just cost you more by statute instead of by PLCB incompetence; the only difference will be that the PLCB will waste the money on Increased Operating Costs to fuel the Boondoggle Machine. I say we privatize and let business people run businesses and end the PLCB screwing of the public.

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