Recently Planet Money did a story on the birth and death of the price tag. When it was cheaper to standardize pricing on tags than it was to train clerks to make that hard sell, stories like Macy’s went with price tags. But now in an age where Internet commerce and high speed trading are the standard, regular people like me waste a lot of time trying to make informed decisions. Crapitalism rears its ugly head once again.
Take your basic decision: Should I buy a self-storage facility on the edge of town (Washington, DC) or should I invest in one of these Amazon-esque door-to-door solutions where they handle your box-o-crap for you? After an hour of shopping for what ought to be a simple google-able or quora question, I built this table:
Self-storage or door-to-door storage?
(Directly comparable in February, 2016)
|Monthly cost ($$)||Dimensions (feet)||distance (miles from center of town)||Demands email to reveal the price|
|Makespace (delivery included)||39||2′ x 4′||N/A||NO|
|CubeSmart self-storage||51||5′ x 5′||3||NO|
|EzStorage self-storage $49/mo (3 miles away)||49||5′ x 5′||3||NO|
|U-haul self-storage (must climb to 3rd floor)||65||5′ x 5′||3||NO|
|Bins (1800-GOT-BINS)||199||7′ x 8′ x 5′||N/A||YES|
|Pods 12′ x 8′ x 8′ $240/mo — requires email for quote||240||12′ x 8′ x 8′||N/A||YES|
|Secure Self-Storage — requires email for quote||???||5′ x 5′||3||YES|
Price tags ensure informed consumers. All of the options that hide their prices behind a salesperson’s email box cost two to three times more than the public, old-school options. From this analysis, I expect to pay about $50 a month for a 5 foot by 5 foot space with no extra hidden fees. 1800-GOT-BINS was the wort of the bunch! Although they tout their American-headquartered status as a plus (compared to Pods which is based in Dubai), they require an email for a price quote and they charge an extra $100 to $200 in moving charges for storage. Plus, you pay $50 every time you need to access your bin in their secure facility.
Pods made me jump through a bunch of this rigmarole before revealing they have no small pods available in my area. But they’ll sell me a giant 12′ x 8′ x 8′ pod for only $240 a month. Why sell what the customer wants when you can offer something at four-times the price?
I certainly hope price tags don’t become extinct. Imagine if everything we bought required an email to beg for information first? That sounds like a terrible way to do business. We’re a long way from the end of capitalism and the beginning of the Federation, so I’d prefer to waste less of my time shopping over email.