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Surge pricing for Colonoscopies?

Euphemisms are omnipresent.  Recently, I learned a human resources term called rightsizing.  This sanitized version sounds a little softer than employee layoffs, but they mean the same thing.  In the near term, New York City will implement congestion pricing when new Yorkers who drive through Manhattan’s central business district will be forking over 15 bucks for this privilege, $36 if you’re a large truck.  These fee amounts will vary depending upon the time of day traveled.  I suppose the marketing folks felt that the term congestion pricing was more palatable than driver shakedown.  Just a year ago, I railed against another form of customer extortion known euphemistically as a resort fee, when guests' money is essentially confiscated each day that they could have used to purchase goods or services they didn’t need or want.  Here’s the resort fee link but make sure you’ve taken your blood pressure medicine before clicking.

Recently, Wendy’s, the fast-food establishment, announced that they would be incorporating dynamic pricing into the dining experience.  Under this system, prices would fluctuate according to supply and demand at the time of purchase.  For example, fries at lunch time would cost more than fries at 1:00 a.m.  This is not a new concept.  When we are seated on an airplane or at a concert, it is very likely that whoever is sitting near us has paid a different price even if all of us purchased directly from the airline or the concert venue.  This conflicts with our notion that the value of a product should be fixed, such a gallon of milk at our local supermarket.

Wendy’s clientele had a big beef against their new & improved pricing scheme which has since been rescinded.

Dynamic pricing and its cousin surge pricing will be creeping through the marketplace, unless we push back a la Wendy's.

$15 at lunch and $5 during a blizzard!

I’m waiting for the medical profession and the insurance industry to introduce dynamic pricing for medical care.  Of course, when and if this happens, patients will be notified that this innovation is designed to serve them better.

What do you think of this pricing concept?   Want to get your gallbladder removed on the cheap?  Request a 1:00 a.m. time slot.   Are you tired of surrendering those huge copays to specialists?  Ask for the midnight special!  And if you’re looking for the colonoscopy sweet spot, expect a deep discount if you book the day after Christmas!

Marketers and businesses will try to sell us on dynamic or surge pricing by emphasizing discounted opportunities rather than highlight the price gouging that will be an integral part of these schemes.  The reason that French fries would be cheap at 1:00 a.m. is that most of us don’t want them then.  This doesn’t mean we want the price of fries to be supersized at dinner.  



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