Do you know why all the brand-name glasses such as Chanel and Ray-Ban cost so much? It is because their patent is owned by one single company.
It might seem we have more choices of eyewear than ever. But the fact is when there's a monopoly, a company can set the sale price as high as they want. For instance, Ray-Ban is owned by Luxottica, the world's largest eyewear company. The price of a pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses has risen from US$29 to more than US$150 today. So these days, we have to pay a high price but our choices are limited.
As a consumer, you will rarely see the idea of "pay more and get better quality", especially in a market without competition.
I refuse to buy a product from an over-monopolised market because ethical consumption is important to me and I prefer a free market system. Think before you buy anything.
Tommy Ho Ka-wai, Fanling Rhenish Church Secondary School
From the Editor
Thank you for your very interesting letter, Tommy.
You are quite right: Luxottica owns numerous brands of eyewear and has cornered around 80 per cent of the market. This of course makes it difficult for consumers to buy anything else. But this is not the only area where we find this sort of thing.
It seems that while Hong Kong's tycoons have a hold on almost everything we do and buy in Hong Kong, there are a few giant companies out there that dominate other markets, such as the Yum food company. It owns KFC, Pizza Hut, Little Sheep and Taco Bell along with many others.
This is, unfortunately, a result of a deregulated market, where one successful company can buy out the competition. Sadly, the consumer is left getting the bad end of the deal.