Decoy Pricing Explained With Sex

If you found our oddly popular post on decoy pricing too brainy, commenter SuffolkHouse offered an excellent concrete example that should drive the point home:

Sally and Tammy are both hot, but Sally’s sister is a prude. This makes the fact that Sally puts out salient to me. I attach that meaning to Sally, but not necessarily to Tammy.

PREVIOUSLY: How Sellers Manipulate You With Decoy Pricing


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  1. RAREBREED says:

    People want what they can’t have…

  2. sarahandthecity says:

    thanks for explaining that by using women as objects!

    seriously, if you didnt get it the first time, why would anyone put out for you at all?

  3. evslin says:

    Personally, I found MaytagRepairMan’s analogy to be quite…. lucid.

  4. ConsumptionJunkie says:

    Thanks for the explanation. Sex is always the best metaphor.

  5. rbaldwin says:

    This analogy was more understandable than the previous.

  6. Darren W. says:

    It’s a lovely analogy, but I don’t think it quite captures it. Allow me to suggest another:

    Amy is a 6, and has a nice personality. Sally is a 9, with tons of emotional baggage. Left at that, it’s kind of a 50/50 choice. However:

    Amy is a 6 and has a nice personality. Sally is a 9 with tons of emotional baggage. April is a 9.5 with Gonorrhea.

    All of a sudden, Sally sounds like the way to go!

  7. Trai_Dep says:

    Damn Sally’s sister. Damn her. To Hell!

    @Darren W.: My bad, but when I first scanned your post, I read it as,
    “Amy’s six [years old]. Sally’s nine, with tons of emotional baggage. Left at that, it’s a 50:50 choice…”
    Needless to say, I was picking up my jaw from the floor with a skiploader. :P

  8. acasto says:

    @Darren W.: omg… the first time I read that I thought you were talking about AGES 6, 9, and 9.5…..

  9. timmus says:

    Nice, very nice… what is Sally’s email?

  10. GothamGal says:

    Wow, I still don’t get it. Can you explain it better with Steve and Tommy as sexual objects?

  11. cmdrsass says:

    @sarahandthecity: don’t get your panties in a bunch

  12. 44 in a Row says:

    How hot is Sally’s sister?

  13. Quatre707 says:

    Americans that fall for this “decoy pricing” must be in the same group of idiots as the 85% of the country that can’t locate Iraq on a map, or the 60% that can’t name our three branches of government.

    They are probably the same type of people that wouldn’t question Miss South Carolina after her speech which left every person whom heard it dumber.

  14. WiglyWorm must cease and decist says:

    I still can’t think of ever having seen an example out in the wild. Perhaps because I was not aware of the phenomenon.

    I challenge someone to provide links to this phenomenon happening on an e-commerce site… not because I don’t believe it exists, just because i want to see it.

  15. @GothamGal: “Steve and Tommy are both hot, but Steve’s brother is a prude. This makes the fact that Steve puts out salient to me. I attach that meaning to Steve, but not necessarily to Tommy.”

    Somehow, it just doesn’t seem to work as well with men, which I’m sure has something to do with the good ol’ double standard. Any straight women or gay men care to verify?

  16. techstar25 says:

    @acasto: Whoa. I thought he meant ages too. I hope Chris Hansen doesn’t frequent this website.

  17. puffyshirt says:

    @techstar25: here, have some iced tea.

  18. littlemsemperor says:

    @Quatre707: Welcome to 2007.

  19. Corydon says:

    @Darren W.: Yes but if you factor in the price of antibiotics vs. the price of years of therapy, April might just be the way to go…

  20. aww man…I thought Darren W. was referring to those numbers as age in years.


    hey! it’s chris hansen!

  21. HeartBurnKid says:

    @sarahandthecity: Try this version:

    Sal and Tommy are both hot, but Sal’s brother is a prude. This makes the fact that Sal puts out salient to me. I attach that meaning to Sal, but not necessarily to Tommy.

    Better now?

  22. Trai_Dep says:

    @HeartBurnKid: Okay, fine. But is Sal the six-year-old or the nine-year-old? And is it Tommy that has The Clap?
    (Yes, I’m going to Hell for writing this)

  23. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    Salient is such a cool word in this context. Assuming, of course, you meant of notable significance.

  24. rouftop says:

    @Quatre707: That is quite possibly the most unfortunate usage of “whom” in a generation.

  25. HeartBurnKid says:

    @Trai_Dep: Hell, or Dateline NBC.

  26. mac-phisto says:

    @Darren W.: wait. i’m confused. i thought we were picking april b/c she puts out.

    oh hell, now i’m back where i started.

  27. Crrusherr says:

    aaaah screw it i’ll just fap off

  28. donkeyjote says:

    No, the reason you pick Sally is because with Sally, there’s always a non-zero chance you would eventually have a Sally + Sally’s Sister + You threeway.

  29. Coles_Law says:

    @Darren W.: Drop April to an 8 and you have it. She has to be strictly worse for decoy pricing to work.

  30. Not a bad sexplanation. But it could be a little more in-depth.

  31. notallcompaniesareevil says:

    This should be below the Consumerist. Unless you’re a John, there is nothing consumerist about finding someone who puts out.

  32. Trai_Dep says:

    @notallcompaniesareevil: You do realize that you just wrote Ben’s next column, right?

  33. Lambasted says:

    @acasto: LOL! I did too. I was like, “What kind of sick shit is this?!” Security! Stranger Danger! Stranger Danger!

    Then when I saw the next comment after that one didn’t start with WTF?!!!!, I knew I must have misread it. Ooops.

  34. I’m too busy laughing at the poor syntax to be offended by the blatant sexism.

  35. lemur says:


    No, the reason you pick Sally is because with Sally, there’s always a non-zero chance you would eventually have a Sally + Sally’s Sister + You threeway.

    A threeway between one random guy and two sisters sounds like incest. You know, since the sisters are sisters.

  36. notallcompaniesareevil says:

    @Trai_Dep: Good point. :-)

  37. richcreamerybutter says:

    @Michael Belisle: Ian from London and Claudio from Brazil are both looking and sounding pretty hot this evening. Suddenly Mike from Murray Hill starts drunkenly pumping his fist to a really lame song. You then (perhaps wrongly) have negative feelings toward all white guys for the rest of the evening and go home with Claudio.

  38. richcreamerybutter says:

    Nick is quite honestly the finest specimen of a man you have ever seen in your life, but happens to be vegan. Gary has a bit of a spare tire, but is adorable in his own way and takes his steak they way you do – rare. Both are intelligent, kind, and posses penises of substantial length and girth.

    Jack is also pretty hot, and a hit with the ladies as well. However, he’s a known member of PETA and lives in a vegan loft commune not far from the Williamsburg Bridge. Whenever anyone comes within proximity with a burger, he makes audible vomiting sounds and motions.

    Anyway, you probably end up with Gary…see this is fun!

  39. induscreed says:

    i dont get it, can someone explain this through blue and red car examples?

  40. SacraBos says:

    Isn’t this idea rather similar to that Beautiful Mind dude? Don’t everyone go for the hottie and fail, go for her not-as-hot friends instead.

  41. wesrubix says:

    @Darren W.: that’s much more apt.

  42. @richcreamerybutter: I stand corrected. I guess the analogy does work with men, but in a different context.

  43. donkeyjote says:

    @lemur: It’s not incest if there is a stranger involved. That, and who said the sisters needed to do anything to each other?

  44. richcreamerybutter says:

    @Michael Belisle: Creating those examples forced me to learn the concept, and now I’ll never forget it. If it works, why not??