Fri, 29 Oct 2004

Pricing That Doesn't Make Sense is Annoying

Seth Godin is trying to make a point about how people act differently when on camera.

Odd segue: Today, in anticipation of a dinner party, I stopped at a lobster seller in Chelsea Market in NYC. I asked for a six pound lobster. The pricing at the store is $9.95 a pound for small lobsters and $8.95 a pound for lobsters six pounds and up.

The lobster weighed (I'm not making this up), 5.97 pounds. For reference, that's just less than a pound by the weight of a penny. Feed the lobster a plankton and it would be six pounds.

He started to ring me up at $9.95 a pound. I pointed out the price breakdown and the guy shrugged and said, "It doesn't weight six pounds."

Two co-workers came over and with precisely the same uncomprehending grin, repeated his point. I added a penny to the scale but they weren't swayed.

So, the two questions are, "Do you think the owner wanted them to act this way?" and "Would they have acted differently if they were on camera?"

Maybe because it's obvious, but he doesn't mention the absurdity of the pricing scheme. The price for the lobster should, of course, be something like $9.95/lb for the first pound and $8.95/lb for each additional pound. Damn, it's annoying when you run into companies that have stupid pricing.

Mark Hurst describes a conversion with a Dell sales rep in which the sales rep explains that a computer without a monitor costs $400 more than the same computer with a monitor.

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The state is that great fiction by which everyone tries to live at the expense of everyone else. - Frederic Bastiat