It’s a trap!

What you see may not always be as it is. This is especially true in advertising and other venues, and can lead customers astray to the benefit of the sellers. I have seen this trap, especially, with gas prices. Consider the next two photos:


In Wadsworth, Illinois on September 11, 2016.


In Kenosha, Wisconsin on September 21, 2016.

Both of them advertise low prices on the regular gas compared to nearby gas stations, but of course there is a catch!

The Kenosha gas station had regular for $2.04/gallon, but only if you pay cash. The credit price jumps up by 15 cents per gallon!

The Wadsworth gas station had regular for $2.14/gallon, but only if you also buy a car wash! Otherwise, you’d pay $2.34/gallon.

I think that the lower cash price is fair, but that the lower price-with-car-wash is a sleazy bait-and-switch for customers who aren’t reading the gas station’s sign carefully. Granted, demand for gasoline is inelastic, but I still find it to be an unnecessary ploy.

But, it’s not as bad as what happened in western Nebraska in 2007: some gas stations off Interstate ramps would advertise prices significantly lower than other areas… but offer the price at one pump only! The other pumps would have a major (30-cent or more) price differential! I think that motorists complained about this practice and the Nebraska legislature stepped in to prevent that practice.

Nevertheless, you have to be a savvy shopper when gas stations play these games with their prices.

Interestingly, I found that it is illegal in some states to frame a lower cash price as a “credit card surcharge…” you must instead call the lower cash price a “cash discount” when advertising the credit card price. There’s a psychology study about this technique that I read in my Cognitive Psychology class, ten (!!) years ago.


NU vs NU: Next right!

High Holidays: 9 days

End of the Ad-Hominem: 39 days

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