22 January 2015

Everyday bounded rationality

I took this photo at a California supermarket. It displays the price for a 24-bottle pack of Nestle water.


Let's figure out which price applies to you...

This 24-pack is...
$3.99 if you buy one with a loyalty card
$4.99 if you buy one without a loyalty card
$2.99 if you buy 5 packs (120 bottles) with a card

...but make sure you add sales tax (8 percent in this county) and CRV (bottle deposit), which varies by container size. I'm not sure, but I'd guess that a purchase of a single 24-pack, without card, would cost $(4.99*1.08)+(24*0.05) = $6.59, or more than double the screaming $2.99 price...

So, is this normal? Let's look at the Dutch version of things:


It says € 1.67 for 6 bottles of 500ml water, at a cost of € 0.56/liter. (I can't even tell how many ounces or liters comes with the 24 bottles above.) That's the tax and (no) deposit-inclusive price, btw.

Bottom Line: In some countries, stores sell you goods. In others, they sell you a bill of goods. Perhaps that confusion explains why Americans are so (fatally) abusive of drugs (compared to the Dutch).

1 comment:

  1. Oh boy, gotta love shopping in the US of A.

    Let's make some educated guesses. The picture says 28/16.9FO. Let's assume that 28=$0.28*, and that FO means fluid ounces. 16.9 fluid ounces is (essentially) .5 liters. (at 33.8 ounces per liter, neglecting decimal dust). So, if theses guess are correct, this mega-store is asking $0.56/liter water (and plastic, packaging and all of the other bonus nonsense included around the water.)

    Pushing this a bit farther, a price point of $4.99, at $0.56/liter, yields 9 liters per flat of 24 bottles. Each bottle would hold .375 liters of water or 12.69 fluid ounces. This is a common size for may of Nestle's products- perrier, poland spring, arrowhead, ice mountain, and san pelligrino (less sure on the last one).

    So, if $4.99 for 9 liters is $0.56/liter,
    then $3.99/9 liters is $0.44/liter and
    $2.99 for 9 liters is $0.33/liter (minimum of 45 liters).

    At .88EUR/USD, those numbers are:
    (w/o card): 64 EUR/liter
    (w/card): .5 EUR/liter
    (w/card, bulk buy and small truck): .375 EUR/liter


    *Before all of you math geeks go wacko, I believe this number is actually $0.277/16.9 fluid ounces. The arithmetic works our well enough and matches actual bottle sizes in the US of A.

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