What's the Frequency Price, Kenneth?!

Posted On: Friday - September 27th 2019 11:56PM MST
In Topics: 
  Salesmen  Economics  Inflation  Scams

(Peak Stupidity apologizes for almost a half week here with no posting. The subject of this post explains about half of that.)

Upon making use of a "rent-all" center the other day I ran into something similar, but more blatant, than the price-switching scam described in this post. I gotta admit right here, this was NOT a Big-Biz scam, as I went to a friendly, small-time operation to rent the machine.

"$100 for the whole day" (24 hours) is what the guy told me in person a while back and again on the phone, when I was determining whether to avail myself of these services. (Honestly, if I hadn't, I'd probably be hurting too much to even write this one post ;-} ) Fine, though one hundred bucks sounded high, but that's just because the last time I did this was over 20 years back (from the same place), and it was either $40 or $50* back then.

This was a nice machine, and the people were as helpful as can be, so no problem there. Just to make sure before driving home: "100 bucks if I bring it back first thing in the morning, right?" "Plus tax." "Yeah, sure, so, it's gonna be $110 or so total?" "Well, about $120." (OK, I'm NOT innumerate, and sales tax where I live is not THAT high.) "How do you get that much?"** "Sales tax plus the fee for putting in more gas and checking hydraulic fluid ..." "uhhh, OK", I said, as I mentally noted that that there is a small pricing scam.

Listen, I know you've got to take care of the machines. In fact, I sometimes wonder how these establishments come out ahead the way renters may, usually inadvertently, treat them. All it takes is one broken part, and all the profit is lost. Sure, but that's part of the service they were selling. It's in no way a tax! It shouldn't even be a "fee", but even then, one should hear that included when asking the price on the phone. Tax is almost always not included in a quote, but this "fee". Taking care of the machine is what you do - I pay for that - that's in the PRICE.

OK, I wasn't going to argue with them or even admonish them on this small scam, as they really were a good bunch. There were some nice friendly young white guys*** that worked in the back on the machines and this store owner was in general a good guy too.

But, as they say "there's more!". "It's $5 for using the credit card." Now, I'm usually all about cash (see also Part 2 and Part 3), but I figured they needed a card for me to rent it at all. "OK, I'll bring $120 in the morning. There's no point in my paying another 5 bucks." They were fine with that, but, GEEZE, isn't that normally also an integral part of the price? Stores do have to pay that 2% on every CC sale, and many gas stations give me a break on that by charging a cash price. I don't know - this was a hidden-at-first-glance nickle-and-diming here.

Believe you me, were this a Big-Biz chain, I would be naming names. As I wrote, these were the kind of people that should be supported instead, but they really ought to have just shown some more integrity, and told me $120 or $125 on the phone. Perhaps that loses some sales, but .... that's not WHO WE WERE.

PS: In case this post's title makes no sense, see here.

* Please revisit Peak Stupidity's Inflation section - this is just one more example that incites me to think that, no, inflation does has not been running 1-2% yearly. Even compounded the high end would make the rental $60-$70, depending on what I did pay 2 decades back. I may see if I can look that up later in some records.

** It could have been that "we" passed a law putting extra tax on equipment rentals, I mean, who knows? That's the situation with rental cars, but that had to do with some supposed improvements to the airport terminal. As PS noted in The tourist dollar and funny money, that's often the way cities do it - soak those OTHER PEOPLE. There are fewer complaints because many won't ever come back to do so (wonder why?)

*** That just gives me a lot more confidence in getting the job done with an operating machine.

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