“Save X% When You Buy Y” Fallacy

This logical fallacy is cited over and over again.  “Save 30% when you buy our product!  Limited time offer!”

Suppose that the “normal” price is $100 and the sale price is $70.  You don’t gain 30 dollars by not buying.  You lose the $70 you paid for the “sale”.

If $70 is a good price, then the normal price is a ripoff at $100, and the company normally is overcharging customers.  It’s dishonest to have a “normal” price that’s too high and have frequent sales.  The most honest policy is to give your best price to all your customers.  Superficially, you make more money cheating customers, but you will start losing customers when people notice.

4 Responses to “Save X% When You Buy Y” Fallacy

  1. Another scam is the ‘limited time offer’. Buy now and save! I usually try to find another product or vendor when I am hit with this. I don’t like to buy something when they are selling to me with ‘time is running out’ or variations.

  2. While I agree that it’s annoying and arguably unethical when sellers don’t always offer their best price upfront, it’s possible that a seller could offer a price reduction which is the result of taking a loss. In these cases you would experience a gain over their loss.

    That said, what also plays into your point are those irritating grocery store club cards and coupons. For all the things I dislike about Apple (and I know you’re no fan), their position of not having coupons or random/temporary sale offers was something I was hoping would catch on as part of the modern Apple mania.

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