Saturday, September 27, 2014

Spending in a Fog

I went to Home Depot the other day to buy a plant as a gift for someone. I figured I could find something inexpensive but cheerful there. But I have been very leery of Home Depot since hearing about their credit card data breach, and the questionable cyber-security practices that led up to it, so I went there fully intending to pay cash for whatever I bought, and wondered if I would see other customers doing the same. 

I browsed the plant section a bit, and took note of various prices, but then started to focus more on the kind of care the plants needed and whether the leaves were in good shape. I ended up deciding to buy a plant for myself in addition to the gift, and headed for the register. As I waited to pay, I did see people using credit cards, surprisingly, but I was then distracted from my observations by a lady in front of me who asked where I had found my plants. I told her, and then she asked how much they cost. I felt so stupid having to admit that I had no idea! I knew the range of costs for plants I had considered was about $10 up to $40, and was pretty sure I hadn't picked the $40 ones, but other than that, I was stumped. There is something very embarrassing to me about being perceived as someone who would just obliviously spend money with no sense of the value of things, so I was just mortified. When I paid, it turned out that my total was about $42 for two plants, which was more than I had been expecting. 
Sometimes there can be a bit of embarrassment to asking how much something costs-- that snobby "if you have to ask, you can't afford it" thing. And then there's the opposite experience, which I had in an airport recently-- I bought a small bottle of water and the cashier said "those are $4.25, do you still want it?" Again I had been oblivious, and suddenly that seemed an outrageous price for water! And I guess the cashier asked because she was used to people being outraged. But when I said "which water brand is cheapest," and she told me it was only about 25 cents less, it didn't seem worth walking back across the store to make the switch. Apparently water sales are the only thing that keeps airport stores in business these days, and if you want to stay well-hydrated you'll just have to deal with some degree of outrage! ( or bring your own bottle to fill if you can find a fountain.)

Ah psychology...

1 comment:

joanna said...

This has been happening to me at the Starbucks at the airport I frequent. I travel every week for business so it happens literally every week. Its almost offensive now, but also, if she has to ask every single time, shouldn't they just put up a sign for the price?

Admittedly, the particular item in question--a yogurt parfait--costs over $6 at this particular starbucks. Which definitely DOES seem ludicrous. If it weren't for the fact that all the other restaurants in this terminal are closed as the terminal undergoes construction, there is no way anyone would pay more than $5 for a parfait.