Time Value

To my dismay, I left my alarm clock in the hotel on a brief trip to Hilton Head this weekend. It was a good travel clock, and had been pretty much everywhere I had in the past half dozen years, imbuing me with some sentimentality for it. My heavyhearted search for a replacement began online, but with little luck there I decided to lope around the mall. At RadioShack I found pretty much exactly what I was looking for:

At $10, the offering from RadioShack was hard to beat, but my old trusty one had come from Brookstone, so I set off to the other side of the mall where I found an equally great clock:

In fact, the Brookstone and RadioShack clock were identical save in three ways:

  1. The store logo on the front was different,
  2. The two colors were reversed,
  3. The Brookstone clock was $15 more expensive, with a price tag of $25

Amazingly, even with my involved knowledge of price discrimination I dithered for a few seconds, trying to convince myself the Brookstone clock was sturdier and therefore deserved my purchase (such is the power of branding). Nonetheless I soon came to my senses and hurried back to RadioShack, laughing at the Brookstone greeter as I went.


In a few days, I will receive a package of Gillette Mach3 razor blades. These will be identical to those I would buy in the store save in three ways:

  1. The packaging will be in Chinese (as I bought them on eBay from a gentleman in Hong Kong),
  2. They will be delivered to my front door,
  3. They will cost nearly 70 percent less, including shipping costs.

The reason I can do this is because others are not so sensitive to the price of these goods as me, just as I am not sensitive to the price of other goods and miss out on deals. When I am not sensitive, I subsidize those who are, and when I am sensitive, I am subsidized.

I have no idea whether I'm a winner on net, but today I feel pretty good.