Thursday, September 02, 2010

Jacking Up the Price

     You are paying out the ass for things that you shouldn't be.  So in the Mind Junk spirit, here is a list of 6 things that you are paying a huge markup on (with the markup in parenthesis) and my thoughts about them, lifted almost verbatim from Investopedia via. Yahoo! News.  So here goes:

1.)  Movie popcorn (1275%) -  Yeah, I don't know if you realize this, Company, but corn is dirt cheap most of the time.  That is why in the summer you can get like a dozen ears from a roadside stand for like two bucks.  Popcorn, as the name implies, is a form of corn, and it is a form to which nothing has to be done, so it is dirt cheap too.  So you wonder why that giganto-size tub of it at the movie theatre costs like $475.  Well, that is for a couple of reasons.  One, that is how the theatre makes all its money.  Two, you have to put 62 gallons of butter and a year's worth of salt on it, unless you are like Sally Brown and you have to put all manner of chocolate and caramel flavorings on it instead of the salt.  And three, you pay for the experience and the ambiance.  That's why, Company.  That is why we don't balk at pulling a ten out of our wallets for a popcorn and soda at the movies.  And maybe some Junior Mints.  Because we like the big tub, we like the pizza-faced high schooler pumping butter from a nacho cheese dispenser, we like that machine with the hanging basket that makes all the great popping sounds you hear while you are standing in line for tickets. That 1000%+ markup is for the ambiance.  And sometimes it's okay to pay for that.

2.)  Greeting Cards (100-200%) - Yeah, I am pissed about this one.  Why the fuck should I have to pay $7 for a card?  First of all, I understand if there is a markup on cards with Miley Cyrus or Batman on them because those people have the fuck trademarked out of them and you've gotta pay a little more for that shit.  But a single-fold card with a pun on it?  No way, José.  The 99¢ version on the little rack that is separated from the other cards because the store doesn't seem to want to be associated with them?  Those are the ones I go for.  Partly because I am a cheap ass bastard but partly because I can come up with way better cards than a lot of the ones for sale, I am only paying for the cardboard-ish material and the appropriately sized, brightly colored envelope.  And I ain't going to pay $4.99 for that shit.

3.)  College Textbooks (186%) - That's not the markup, that is how much they have gone up since 1986.  But it is still stunning.  You want another percentage?  26%.  That is the average percentage of the cost of college that textbooks account for.  Yeah, that's right.  There is nothing like being a broke ass college student, standing in line for sixteen hours because the admissions people screwed up your financial aid, then having to go into the bookstore and fork over a grand for books that you will sell back to them for a fraction of the cost.  Oh and by the way you are broke.  Don't forget about that.  The slap in the face is that not only are you making them rich buying the textbooks for a huge markup, and not only are they buying them back from you for less than what the new ones should actually be valued for, but they come out the a new version every couple of years or so, and the professors - who are totally in on the scam it usually seems - always insist that they teach out of the new one.  Lame ass shit.  So you don't even have the opportunity to buy used a lot of the time.  It is one of the most blatant and dishonest scams in all of the world, and nobody does a thing about it.  Except for those few independent bookstores that rarely have what you actually need.  But at least they are trying.

4.)  Bottled Water (≈3000%) - One would think that the bottled water thing would be much worse than the textbook scam, but it's not because everyone knows how bottled water is worse and they still do it.  If you are buying bottled water on a regular basis you are fucking stupid, with the exception that if you live in a city with municipal water problems, or if you have a bad or contaminated well or something, then it's okay.  But otherwise you deserve to be removed from the reproduction pool because we don't want that kind of thinking to go on forever.  First of all, most of you reading this probably have a municipal tap, where the city makes water and pumps it to you for a tiny, tiny amount per gallon, and 45% of bottled waters on the market come straight from municipal sources, and they may or may not be filtered.  Holy shit.  Now, it's true that you can come up with other figures if you sort of teak the number, hence the little "approximately" symbol, but no matter how you slice it the whole thing is appalling that you are paying out the wazoo for something that you are getting pumped into your house anyway.  Oh, and if you are going to bitch about filters in the home, like pitcher filters or the ones that screw onto the faucet, the markup to bottled water comes out to be less but it is still fucking ridiculous.

5.)  Printer Ink (500%) - Five times what it costs to buy the actual printer is what you pay for ink over the life of said printer.  Compare that to typewriter ribbons, etc.  Plus typewriters are way cooler and more retro.  That being said, we are in a world of computers and we are stuck with them, so we have to get used to it.  The problem is that for as e- as the world has become, everything legal is still stuck in the paper days, so we print a lot.  And I mean a lot.  At my job, I go through a $36 cartridge every couple of months.  And that is for black and white; don't even get me started on color.  So think about that.  Want a crazy reality check?  Write in blood instead of ink.  Prick your finger and write in blood when you fill out your bills.  Ink averages roughly 71¢ per milliliter, the Red Cross ends up charging about 40¢ per milliliter for blood.  Think about that.  Printer ink is worth more than your life blood.  If only we dripped ink...

6.)  Brand Name Fashions (500-1000%) - Yeah, but you already knew that.  A lot of brand name goods, especially foods, are made or canned in the same factories but with different labels on the cans.  Fashions are roughly the same, because twelve minutes after some famous designer or company comes out with something then everyone has made a decent copy, if not exact at least of the rough design.  So then you have to pay an arm and a leg for a name to cover your arm or your leg, at least if you are into that kind of thing.  Essentially, you are paying money for people to see that you have enough money to pay for the fact that people can see you have money.  Pretty fucking retarded when you think about it, now isn't it.  Start shopping at K-Mart, Company, and you won't have to be sent off to the stupid people's island.

So that is a look at just six things that you are paying too much for.  Think about it next time you are out shopping.  Or don't, because it just might make you cry.


BradPerala said...

I hate that you had to admit to ripping this from another source almost verbatim, as you said, and that makes me not want to love this particular blog post. I but I do, and I can't hide my feelings.

Your stat about the text books making up 26% of the cost of college? Blowin' my mind, my friend.

Great post. Highly recommended.

Big Dave said...

Not totally ripped off verbatim, but I totally ripped the six items off from them and added my own comments. Does that help?

BradPerala said...

yes thank god. A wonderful post.