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Rant #257
(published December 15, 2005)
Pricing Paradigms
by Eric Howerton
You know what really grinds my gears? The way that marketers and advertisers price things that we purchase using almost whole numbers like $19.95 or $9.99 or $29.98 . . . are these fucking people kidding? Do they honestly believe that a person is going to be looking at the price for a movie, and say to themselves "Wow . . . only $15.99! That's only $15 for a movie, but I expected to pay $16 . . . what a great price!". Is that the thought-process they were shooting for when they took off A PENNY and hoped that the American public would buy into their crap? I guess they seem to think that people will think they are getting a better deal, or that the item in question is less money than originally expected, purely on the basis of our in-ability to round decimals.

Well, guess what: we are not as dumb as you think we are, marketing executives!!

Since we were children, we were taught in math class to round up. It was drilled into our brains, along with the I before E rule and the Sex leads to STD's and babies, ALWAYS rule. We have been taught how to do it . . . we are good at it. It's a fairly simple concept to grasp, too.

For the marketing and advertising people out there that like to use the $19.95 pricing rule, here is a quick lesson in advanced mathematical and decimal theory, done by my friend Billy in the 4th grade:

If the number in the tenths decimal place is higher than, or equal to 5 . . . you round the number to the left of the decimal up by one. This is called rounding up. If the number in the tenths decimal place is lower than 5 . . . you do not change the number to the left of the decimal. This is called rounding down.
Check out these examples for rounding to the nearest whole number:
7.56 => 8
5.34 => 5
132.89 => 133
19.95 => 20

I hope this clears things up, for you idjits out there who like to use the $19.95 rule for consumer pricing. Let me help you out: we are NOT falling for your crap, nor do I think that we ever did, to begin with. I don't know anybody lame enough to think that $32.99 equals $32 . . . .not one damn person. Hey, marketers! Do you think we are retarded? Do you think we cook our bacon in the freezer, or wear our socks on our heads? Do you see me counting on my fingers when trying to calculate how many times I've fucked your wife? No. Please stop treating us like morons. Some of us are partially educated, you know.

People instinctively round numbers...usually up. Look at time, as another example. Who looks at the clock that reads 2:59 pm and says, "Wow! It's only 2:00! I have plenty of time to make it to my 3:00 meeting! I think I'll go play in traffic for a while!"

Does anybody do that? No. Why not? Because it's fucking stupid. Why would pricing be any different? No reason, whatsoever. So why does every price end with .95 or .99 or .98 or some other derivation? There are only 2 possible answers:

  1. The people that price these things assume that we are the stupidest creatures to ever walk the face of the earth, since the Dodo bird.
  2. The people that price these things are stupid because their parents were brother and sister.

That's the only logical conclusion to make from the data given to us. Either they think we are stupid, or they are stupid. I'm not sure which one it is, although the latter sounds much better. Truthfully, the answer must be the first one . . . they assume we are idiots, that cannot think for ourselves.

Now, I've seen enough proof in this country on a daily basis to prove that most of the people we interact with on a daily basis are complete morons. However, even a moron can tell you that 3.99 rounds up to 4. Nobody walks into McDonald's with 99 pennies, hoping to purchase a cheeseburger. They know that numbers round up, and there is this other magical thing called TAXES that make the numbers go up, even higher.

So marketing and advertising people in charge of consumer pricing: please stop this ridiculous pricing strategy, because it's insulting and makes us angry. And you don't want to see us angry . . . we might come to your house and beat you within .99 inches of your life.

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