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March 19, 2007

Sales Economics Part 1: Buying Blinds

Filed under: Main — Ryan Jones @ 9:17 am

One of the leading philosophies among salesmen is to never let the customer know you’re ripping him off. Many may argue the ethics of knowingly ripipng somebody off, while others will state that an informed customer wouldn’t let himself get ripped off. Regardless, that’s not the topic of this post.

A few years ago, I was developing an e-commerce website for a client when he brought up a point that I hadn’t even thought of. He told me not to show the coupon box on the website unless the user was given a special URL. When I asked him why, he explained it to me:

“How many times do you see a coupon box on a site and instantly feel like you’re being ripped off because there’s a way to pay less, but you don’t know it.” I tend to agree. By showing the customer that there’s a way to discount the price that they don’t have access to you’re in effect telling them they’re being ripped off.

Just to be sure, we did some testing… and the non-coupon box order form converted better. (of course, it could be that the coupon box customers simply left to search the web for a coupon code then came back, or called and asked for a special deal.)

So what does this have to do with buying blinds? Well…. that’s what I did this weekend. It was a nice little Sunday. Went to Lowes, didn’t have enough time to hit up Bed Bath and Beyond. Wow that’s a terrible movie reference – sorry.

Anyway… I needed blinds for 2 windows. As it turns out, one of the windows was a standard size. I found what I needed in a “basic blind” for only $5.

The other window was about 1″ off of the standard size blind – so it needed to be cut down about 1/2″ (in case you’re wondering, blind sizes are about 1/2″ smaller than it says on the package.)

For some reason, the “basic blind” couldn’t be cut down unless I was willing to do it myself with a hacksaw, (I wasn’t) so I had to get a different model. Same blind, same look, same manufacturer.. but apparently this one could be cut down. The cost: $40.

Does that make sense? Given the price of the basic blind, it would sure seem that I’m being ripped off wouldn’t it? Of course the whole problem can be avoided if window makers would make windows in standard sizes, but then some of the nice folks at Lowes would be out of a job.

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