Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Plane Truth?

My Friends & Those Who Merely Tolerate Me,

It is my custom on Sunday afternoons to purchase the GIGANTIC New York Times newspaper and haul it to a local coffee shop for 2-3 hours of reading. The coffee shop is known as "Starbucks" and, based on their success in The Big Apple (roughly 5 shops per city block), you may very well see an outlet in your city within five years. Charging $4.00 for a small ("tall") cup of coffee that costs roughly $0.03 to manufacture, Starbucks nevertheless has won America's hearts and minds because (as with bottled water) we all assume that something expensive means it is "better." I'm sure that's true even though I've never read anything to confirm it. Nothing. Ever.

Of course The New York Times, as with many publications these days, is fairly bursting with advertisements pitching such products as dinette sets, hi-fi stereo systems, and New York Times subscriptions. Typically I roar directly past these advertisements with calm indifference since I already own 99.9% of all items I wish to own. Am I a wealthy man? Hardly. Am I a powerful, handsome man? Sure, but that's not relevant here! Am I a peaceful man with simple desires? Well there ya' have it! You see, I do not covet a fancy color-television console, a pricey swim-in-place pool, or even a second pair of shoes. I am already, in a word, content.

But occasionally these advertisements do catch my eye (and raise my blood pressure) if the item "pitched" is deceptively presented. You see, I was raised to be honest to a fault by a pair of God-fearing Finnish immigrants who understood the joy of receiving a well-earned dollar. Ironically, both died in a terrible accident as they drove to the bank one day to return money improperly credited to their account. The irony was magnified two-fold when it was revealed that the murderous hit-and-run driver was a drunk Episcopalian priest returning home after delivering a sermon on honesty. Since this tragic day, as you can imagine, I have been no fan of irony. I refuse to even iron my shirts. But again, I am guilty of digressing.

The advertisement in question was from Continental Airlines and trumpeted its "Incredible Super-Saver Winter Fares!" Some of the "special rates" included the following trips:

1. New York to San Francisco ($250.00). Wow!
2. Chicago to London ($400.00). Wonderful !
3. Miami to Tokyo ($750.00) Can this truly be?!

Nifty rates, eh? Let's pack our bags, one and all, and head to the nearest airport! But wait. The tiny print following these rates all read, "one way based on round trip." Hmmm. I called Continental and asked if I could actually fly from New York to San Francisco (one way) for $250.00 and they said (and I quote), "No." Hmmm again. Therefore this company is telling me (in large print) how much a portion of their "product" costs even though I am never permitted to actually buy a portion of said product! These misleading price quotes are irrelevant, and merely indicate HALF of what you must pay. Wow, what a novel approach! But an infuriating precedent has been set here, ladies and non-ladies. Read on, I beg of you...

According to this strategy, elegant restaurants can now offer fine dinners for, say, "$11.00 (based on 1/4 of your full meal)." Baseball teams can sell tickets for "$9.00 (based on one inning of the game)." Heck, the airlines might as well advertise,"New York to San Francisco: $0.07 (based on one mile of round-trip purchase). "

You see, these corporate ne'er do-wells can "honestly" advertise any price they choose if they then paranthetically (in tiny print) explain that this price only covers a fraction of the item's actual full price! Fiendishly clever, highly deceptive, and patently "rage inducing." Daily annoyances like these allow me to feel abundant sympathy for those who wake up one morning and sullenly enter their workplace with automatic weapons blazing (as crisply illustrated here).

Please just tell me what the f*#%ing thing costs!

-Paul C. Rosa

P.S. Have a nice (based on 3/4 of complete sentence).

1 comment:

Rich said...

Your timely observations remind me that it costs .25 per lick to get to the "chewy center of a Tootsie(TM) Pop". In the spirit of your missive, how much is your Starbucks REALLY (on a per consumption unit, that is!)?

Read here!