We are Developing World with Manhattan Prices

by Nada Andersen
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I managed to run out of contact lenses. It would not be such a drama if I didn’t start riding again. But riding with prescription glasses that are not suited for the sport, is quite uneasy for me. So I looked at the usual suspects, the optician chain that I usually buy from, forgetting that I haven’t really checked with them for a couple of years as I was getting the lenses from Nairobi. Because of difference in prices.

Confidently, calmly, I walked into the shop and inquired about the price of disposable daily contact lenses. And one box of thirty lenses for one eye costs UGX 280,000. And guess what, I have two eyes. And another guess what, they are not in stock, need to be ordered, will come in two-three weeks.

On my way to ATM I’m thinking, hang on, this is a bit too much. So I sit in my little car and drive off. I’m going to Denmark in a few days, I’ll get the lenses over there.

Of course, Denmark was a splendid plan except two things happened: first, I remembered the lenses on my last day there and second, the lady at the optician’s refused to sell me lenses without an examination that can only be scheduled for the following day. Since I was on the flight the following day – the good plan backfired.

Landing Kampala, I jump on eBay and look up disposable contact lenses. Now, the brand I usually got around here was Johnson & Johnson AcuVue. So pads company making contact lenses, ok? On eBay I get a neat 90-day pack by Bausch & Lomb (the lenses people making lenses) and at the fraction of the price, 34 euros a pack. Two eyes, 68 euros.

Received at Post Office today, I guess I worked out the mathematics right. $600 for three months worth of lenses in Kampala shop vs 68 euros from the P.O. Box, it’s clear who will win every next time. Until Kampala shop owners reduce their margins of 750%.

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