How much does a dozen eggs cost? Did you remember to add in the tax?
I’ve been thinking about the cost of things lately. It started with my land line. I believe in having a land line, but I don’t believe in paying for TV (this complicates my phone service somehow). The same company that provides my home phone provides my internet. (This isn’t really just about phone service, so I need not mention the company–CenturyLink.) I like how the phone works and the internet, but I’m not crazy about how much they cost, so I called to see if I could get a better price. I could, but it was confusing.
“We can give you this service with a higher speed for internet and that costs about $65, so it will run you about $80 a month,” said the sales rep.
“It’s sixty-five dollars so it will cost you about eighty a month.”
N0w, tell me what makes sense in that sentence? What’s sadder is I accepted this (sort of).
I decided I wanted to replace my old cell phone, which I have through another company, but I don’t know for how long. I went to the local outlet. The person at the door symbolically handed me to this young man. He must have been twenty years old. He had a tablet computer in his hands, and I was not interesting enough to keep his attention while he was “serving” me. I asked about getting a new phone. I’ve been with the company for years, and I haven’t had a new phone in about four (I guess). He basically told me I couldn’t get a better phone without paying twenty dollars more a month.
“What? I have to pay more? Don’t I get an upgrade? I pay a pretty high price now.”
“Well,” with a glance off to another part of the store. “You can have one of these phones for the same amount” gesture to a collection of clunky, ugly…
“So I have to take a step DOWN?”
After much fumbling around and realizing he would be able to get me to sign another two year contract if he only could expend three more calories on thinking, he showed me some sleek, cute Samsung. I love Samsung. “You can have this with a data contract to provide for it and the one you have for your mother. This phone, which sells for $294, you can have for just a $1 today. BUT…I will have to pro-rate a data charge for the rest of the month and there’s a $36 fee to initialize the phone.”
Folks, that there is some grade-A, top-knotch bull manure. The phone is one dollar…but there is a $36 fee to initialize it. I decided to wait on the phone. It didn’t seem to bother him that I left without purchasing anything. No skin off his nose. The company could not possibly care about one lousy customer. I went out feeling pretty miserable, thinking about how little buying power I have.
That’s when I realized all of America is now using car lot pricing. Everything has some sort of bogus sticker that is only loosly related to the actual cost. So…I decided to look at the next little trip to the grocery store.
Here’s what I discovered. First, there was a rack of sweet cakes (Hostess brand) right by the front door that had no price at all on it. I don’t think they were free. I think they were a trap for people who have to take their kids shopping. I took pictures of the prices of the other stuff.
With these and a number of other items, the whole bill came out to about $82. That is a very small bill for my family. We didn’t buy meat, medicine, make-up, or booze this trip, so we got away pretty well. Still, doesn’t that price for cream seem low? Doesn’t the price on the chile, the tortillas, the eggs, and the soda seem high? Look at the mark down on the brass wreath thing. It goes from nearly three dollars to seventy-four cents! That’s why I put it in the cart.
I love grocery shopping because I love to cook, but I rarely think about how weird the prices are. For example, the soda is always weird. Buy more for less! Why? So we’ll drink more, right? Grocery stores have razor-thin markups, supposedly. They still do pretty well, I’m guessing.
I like all the things a little money can buy, but I’m wondering how much I really understand about the price of things and their actual cost.