My Latest Rant

Your search probably brought you here because you were wondering what that LCBO/RAO means on your credit card statement. Don't worry it's legit. When you were in Ontario, Canada do you remember going to a Liquor Store? Yes. Well, you put your purchase on a credit card. Now get back to your AA meeting.

Every year I do the mature and responsible thing and add up all my expenditures for the past year just to find out where my money is going. To help track such matters I tend to put everything on my credit card. Using cash requires too much day-to-day tracking of spending and I’m too lazy for that. This brings me to one of the more common line items on my Mastercard statements this past year: LCBO / RAO #0212 OTTAWA ON.

Ontario’s Crown-owned liquor distribution retailer, the LCBO, was one of my biggest suppliers of goods and services this past year – to the tune of about $1,000. At first, I thought that’s a lot of spending, but I found out through Statistics Canada that I’m about average for a full-time employed male when it comes to spending on booze. No need for an intervention just yet.

Having conveniently parked the health issues related to my consumption in the closet of denial, I turn to the economic issues. Though $1,000 a year is a fairly typical expenditure for a typical Joe, it’s still a lot of money. This is where I get my back up against the wall when it comes to the LCBO’s pricing. According to their last annual report this monopoly paid a “dividend” to the Ontario government of over $1 billion (this is above and beyond any taxes collected on booze). Not a bad profit for a retailer. In fact, hands down, the LCBO is probably the most profitable retailer in the food and beverage industry in North America (maybe even the world!). Their net “profit” is about 33% of net sales. To give you a benchmark, Walmart, considered one of the best retailers in the world, had a net profit of about 5 % last year. And that was with a labour force paid close to minimum wage, whereas the LCBO provides a good union job (north of $20 an hour last I heard). I don’t mind that the price of my booze supports well-paid union jobs. That’s fine by me. What I don’t like is paying for monopoly profits above and beyond those well-paid jobs. And by my calculation, it’s costing me an extra $250 a year.

But maybe there’s hope.

The LCBO recently started to market affordable, yet classy-looking foreign beers that can be purchased one can at a time. Lately, I’ve been buying Holsten Premium at $1.95 for 500 ml can – a very good deal that can be paid for with a toonie. The downside is that I’ve reverted back to paying with cash – coins no less. So not only am I losing track of where my money is going, but every time I stop by for a purchase, I’m appearing more and more like the beggar outside the store who pays with quarters and dimes. And yesterday, he and I had the exact same purchase.

I’m ready for that intervention now.

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