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January 16, 2019

Why people who are fascinated by discounts tend to pay too much


As an old marketing guy, I know that there's no such thing as a "fixed price". The price of anything is determined by how much people are willing to pay. This is basic "Economics 101" stuff, but it's something that apparently a lot of people never paid attention to, and they are the ones who have a tendency to become blinded by discounts.

Now don't get me wrong, real savvy people can get a lot from their money by looking for discounts, and deals. It tends to be a lot of work, but the people that I know who are good at it look at it as a labor or love. It's too much trouble for most people, and that's how they get caught.

Discounts, and bargains, are wonderful things. If you know the going price for something, and are able to get it for less than that, it's great. I'd be the last person to deny that. I've always shopped at discount places, especially for clothes. I don't need a salesperson to go over and pick out a dress shirt for me, I just learned what size I wear, remember the brand name, and go buy it myself for a discount. In fact, in my corporate days I did a lot of that, often stopping at discount places regularly on my way home from work to buy more shirts. I had a lot of shirts!

So, if you're a person who is willing to do their homework, and put in the effort, there are some wonderful bargains to be found. If you're not, well then you're at risk of being cheated. Because if you don't know what the value of a particular product is, and its going price, you can be charged anything, as long as it's advertised as a "discount".

When I was a little kid, my friends would often use the phrase "Five finger discount", which meant stealing something. If I asked where someone got a pen, they would say, "Five finger discount!" Yeah, we were real gangsters in those days! And that's really the ultimate discount - getting something for free. So you will actually see things offered as "free"!

Of course, there's no such thing as free when it comes to that. There's always a price to pay, if not being arrested and hauled off to jail, the price of a guilty conscious for stealing someone's pen. And for most reasonable people, they would prefer not to pay that price.

A fascination for discounts is something that marketing people prey on. They offer all kinds of convoluted ways to seemingly get a discount, in the hopes that you won't actually get a bargain. Of course, if you're a careful consumer, you'll get that discount, but most people won't, they'll simply carry around a plastic card, or give their telephone number out so that more marketing people can discover them, and sell them more stuff.

So yes, by all means, look for a discount. There are plenty out there, and it's really true that "only suckers pay full price". It takes some work, but to people who really like discounts, it's worth the trouble.

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