“I never pay full price for anything,” is a popular humble-brag: I am declaring myself a whiz at negotiating, or using the marketplace in my favour. I am saying I have the best research skills or I know all the best stores. I am saying that corporations and rip-off artists can’t get the best of me!
I pay full price for stuff all the time. There are lots of reasons:
Need: Sometimes I need something and I can’t or won’t wait for it to go on sale. For example, if my electric kettle were to stop working, I wouldn’t boil water on the stovetop for a month while I waited for the price of kettles to come down. Or, if I ran out of tea, I wouldn’t wait for the price of tea to be reduced, nor would I buy the cheapest brand available.
Planning: In an ideal world, I’d stock up on tea when it was on sale, or I’d start checking sales flyers for kettles when I first suspected mine was on the fritz. Failing to plan costs more.
Accidents and the Unexpected: I should realize when I’m about to run out of tea. I can prepare! But, my kettle could just suddenly not heat up any more. I may have to replace something that breaks or wears out without warning.
Desire: I want what I want when I want it! I could get a craving for Earl Grey Lavender tea and come back with 50 grams for $15 – an impulse buy. Or I could see one of the new see-through electric kettles in a department store and think, “I have to have that!”
Justice: I will pay more for fair trade products, or something handmade locally, or to support a business whose values I believe in. I will pay more to buy an item in my neighbourhood as opposed to driving across town to buy it a bit cheaper.
No Substitutions: Sometimes the cheapest brand is just not acceptable. For example, I have bought the $15-20 drip coffee makers more than once, and the heating element on them has reliably failed after one year. I could read reviews and buy a longer-lasting product, or use a French press!
Loyalty and Nostalgia: When I lived in Saskatchewan, I had my family send me Morse’s Tea from the Maritimes because that’s what I was raised on, and there was nothing else like it. But the company was bought out, and they changed their tea bags from gauze to paper. The bigger corporation says the tea is the same blend, but I don’t believe it! I found an easily-available national brand that met my standards.
No Offers: Some things just never go on sale. Occasionally I have hoped to score an item from a store going out of business. Surely I can buy it at the closing-out sale! Nope, they sell all their inventory to a liquidator.
Rarity: When something commands a premium price and people will pay it, the price will not drop. Remember that civet cat coffee?
The WTF Factor: I have the money and I just don’t care. Haha – just kidding! I would rather save money than waste it, so I can redirect funds to things I feel are worth it.
So are there things I never pay full price for?
Some people never pay full price for flights or hotels or meals. I have. Some never pay full price for cars or clothes. I have. I see “full price” as meaning something different, though. Consumers often think they are getting a deal, when the seller already has a rock-bottom price in mind. So the buyer is paying less than someone who fails to negotiate, but the seller is still getting what she wants. If I see a hotel room “marked down” from $350 a night to $199 a night, and my price limit is $129, is that room really a deal for me? If the MSRP of a new car is $19,999 and the dealer is willing to sell it to me for $17,749, have I pulled the wool over her eyes? I think not.
My pet peeve is when everyday items are marked up, over the normal price, and then put on sale. I know a box of my favourite cereal costs $4.99. I feel ripped off when it’s marked up to $5.29 and then it’s advertised as “on sale” for $4.99 again, as if I should be grateful to get that deal. Of course, when it goes down to $4, I stock up!
I always marvel at the choices each person makes about when to spend freely and when to scrimp. I remember one friend who bought the best wine and the thinnest, scratchiest toilet paper!
What do you never pay full price for? What is always worth full price to you?
This is an update of Splurges and Scrimps (2012).