I was surprised to see a letter from our cleaning company informing me that prices will go up around 16% an hour from September.

The letter explained, in very well written English, that companies have to raise prices from time to time. It also justified the increase by explaining that it was required to help them 'remain competitive'.

I get frustrated when Dubai companies do this. I've seen it elsewhere in restaurants or bars - fewer customers, so less revenue? Simply put up the price to make up the difference. It's so obvious. Following this, the business geniuses can sit back and marvel as customers pile in, relieved that they can pay more, waving their wallets around with glee.

My suspicion is that our cleaning company is doing the same - they have fewer customers thanks to the downturn, so they are simply making up the shortfall by charging the rest of us more.

I have no issues with a company making money, but I do get fed up with being ripped off left, right and centre.

How about this as a simple strategy -

- Do some kind of promotion for new customers who sign up

- Do some simple advertising

- Offer existing customers a good deal if they get a cleaner in more often every week

- Offer existing customers an incentive to sign up their friends with the same cleaning company

- Do something vaguely creative to increase your business.

If none of this works, fine, up your prices as a last resort if you have to and if you are sure it will not destroy what business you have left.

In a time when everyone is less well off than before, simply whacking on an extra 16% for the kind of service that is first to go when times are hard is simply idiotic.