Masala dosa is something that people of every age love.
But it’s fast going out of reach, thanks to the glaring price disparity of this popular pancake in various city hotels of the same class.
Masala dosa sells at different prices at three popular vegetarian hotels within a radius of just 6-7 kilometres. While a hotel at Vyttila sells it for Rs. 60, it comes at Rs. 40 at a hotel in Chembumukku and Rs. 45 at a hotel in Palarivattom.
And this disparity is not just restricted to masala dosa. Vagaries in price is the norm when it comes to other popular pancakes and breads. This has upset the budget of a large segment consisting mainly of bachelors and a floating population travelling to the city for work.
Ghee roast, another variant of pancake, is being sold at Rs. 50, Rs. 30, and Rs. 35 while a plate of two chapattis costs Rs. 50, Rs. 34, and Rs. 40 respectively in the same three hotels.
Jayadeep Narasimhan, a senior manager of a private company who constantly travels across the State, says that the issue is graver than mere price difference. “Serving a minimum quantity and maintaining hygiene in preparation and serving is more important in which case people may even be willing to pay more,” he said.
Professionals like Ajoy Thomas, who depends mostly on hotel food, wonders how restaurants could charge different prices despite the ingredients used in masala dosa being the same. “It’s high time the authorities took steps to standardise the rates, and no doubt hoteliers will still make a decent profit,” he said.
A. Rajesh, the president of District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, says prices are fixed at the whims of the hotel owners with absolutely no regulatory mechanism. “Customers cannot even demand a minimum quantity to be served. The only right they can assert is public display of a price list at a conspicuous spot. Menu card is not a valid alternative for that list,” he says.