The Guardian • Issue #2087

How do I gouge thee?

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2087
Coles in Chadstone Shopping Centre.

Coles in Chadstone Shopping Centre Photo: Wpcpey – Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0).

After Alan Fels’ inquiry for the ACTU, and with an impending Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) inquiry into the supermarket sector, the Guardian presents a guide to the world of gouging.

How do I gouge thee? Let me count the ways …

Loyalty taxes – if you don’t change suppliers the company rewards you for being loyal…by charging you more because you’re a sucker. They use the money to give discounts to entice non-loyal customers

Drip pricing – you buy something and that’s it, right? No it isn’t. Drip pricing involves the company adding a charge here, a fee there, safe in the knowledge that by this stage it’s a colossal hassle for you to change. Airlines and car rental companies are masters at this

Excuse-flation – jacking prices up and blaming some external event, like inflation, the war in Ukraine, the pandemic, which isn’t really the cause

Rockets and feathers – the price goes up like a rocket when interest rates rise, and down as slowly as a feather when they fall

Confusion pricing – using extra detail and complexity to make it impossible for you to compare prices or work out if you’re paying more than you should. Try comparing phone plans.

Was/Is – bump up the price of an item, then lower it to where it used to be so that customers read your ‘WAS (inflated price)/ IS (regular price) sticker and feel like they’re getting a bargain

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