Modern Shopping

Here’s a fine example of modern pricing practice. Notice how this forces the shopper to reveal (negotiate) exactly what price he’s willing to pay by setting up a cascade of barriers he must climb over to get the lowest price.

OfficeMax.com – Western Digital 120GB, 7200 RPM, 8MB Cache Hard Drive $69.98 After Rebates.

OfficeMax has the Western Digital 120GB Hard Drive Item# 20346127 selling for $139.98 with a $30 Mfg rebate (exp. 9/27/03 – original UPC) and a $20 OM rebate (#27 exp. 9/27/03 – copy of UPC). Start shopping with this $20 off $125coupon (exp. 10/05/03) and using the “Order by item number” link at the top of the OfficeMax homepage add the drive to your cart and check-out. Your cost just $139.98 – $20 coupon – $50 in rebates = $69.98 shipped to your door. You could add some free after rebate items to get over $150 and use the $30 off $150 coupon to get it for another $10 cheaper.

One aspect of this I find thought provoking is how the transaction is spread out over time. In a simplistic model the transaction is closed out once you have handed over you money, have your goods and you’ve left the cash register. No more.

What with return policies, rebates, warrenty, credit card warrenty extensions, firmware updates, etc. etc. transactions almost never manage to close out.

Some people in marketing call this a relationship.

There must be some way to introduce an intermediary into this. “Mr. Rebate: we do the work you get the money!” Maybe it could be a add on to the warrenty registration services some of the credit card companies provide. Maybe it could be one of those little mall cart based franchise businesses. Just once I managed to get the staff at a cell phone store to offer to do all the paperwork, including the envelope and stamp, as part of negotiating the purchase of a new cell phone.

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