Charging different customers different prices

Q87 :A shop manager receives all the goods he sells from an establishment which sets prices for all the goods. But the shop manager does not fix any price. He sells his goods after bargaining with every customer. Could you please comment on his action.

A87 : You say that the establishment does not have an agreement with the shop managers at its different outlets to sell at the prices it fixes. In other words, there is no binding agreement that these prices must be charged by all shopkeepers to ensure price uniformity. On the contrary, the establishment knows that its goods can be obtained for varying prices, according to the discretion of different shopkeepers. That is perfectly acceptable. There is no obligation on the part of a shopkeeper, from the Islamic point of view, that he should sell to all his customers at the same price. There may be a variety of reasons why the same commodity is sold to different customers at different prices. Take for example a grocery shop which begins to reduce prices from mid-afternoon onward. The shopkeeper feels that he should reduce prices in order to sell as much of his goods as possible, because he will be getting more items the following morning, when all his customers would feel that the fresh items are the ones to buy. What is left over from the day before will be of little demand. No one can blame such a shopkeeper, because his action is felt to be proper one. Moreover, bargaining with customers is permissible. It is fair for a shopkeeper to try to get the best margin of profit he can, as it is fair for a customer to try to get the item he wants to buy at the lowest possible price. If it is known that a customer may bargain, then there is no harm in the shopkeeper asking for a higher price and accepting a lower one. It is certainly better if a shopkeeper decides to sell at fixed prices to all customers, but this is a matter that is left to him to decide in accordance with how he sees his business prospects. The important thing is that the shopkeeper should not try to exploit his customer's ignorance of the market conditions [or resort to untrue statements about his 'inflated' costs or that he is suffering a loss, while he is not]. When a business borders on deception and exploitation, then new issues are involved and those may make it forbidden.

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )