Katie Couric recently interviewed Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz on CBS Sunday Morning and asked him if he thought the company had a “tin ear” to what people were going through with the recession. Perhaps, she suggested, they couldn’t afford to pay “$5 on their coffee every day.” Schultz’s response was to laugh. You see, Starbucks coffee only costs $1.50.
A little bit of pricing news out of CES: LG told Dow Jones Newswires that their 3D TVs will be getting cheaper by 20% this year, as “production costs have been dropping with improved technology.”
When JCPenney killed off its traditional Big Book catalog last year, the result was a drop in sales on its website, says the retailer’s chairman. Based on that successful strategy–wait, what?–JCPenney says it’s killing off its remaining 12 specialty catalogs as well. Instead, it will start mailing out thinner “look books,” which will contain a subset of merchandise and no prices.
Ten years ago, 5% of the country had access to broadband Internet. Now over 95% of the country has access. In other technology markets, notes the authors of a new study, prices tend to drop significantly once a technology matures–but with broadband, prices since 2004 have dropped by less than 10% in most markets, if at all. So what’s going on?
Jared spotted this dubious deal at his local Walmart. You can get a bottle of Old Spice high endurance body wash for $2.97, or the two-pack for $6.47. There should be a bulk discount, right? Nope, you’ll actually pay $.53 more if you buy the bundle instead of the two individually. Hey, that plastic wrap is really, um, convenient, and there’s a convenience premium. Yeah, that’s the ticket.
Brian shopped for a webcam on Amazon and faced this confounding pre-checkout screen.
Sears paid out $1 million to settle a civil lawsuit with six California counties that accused the retailer of charging customers more for products than the advertised prices.
One month ago, Verizon Wireless’s CFO hinted in an interview that the company might follow AT&T’s lead and replace unlimited data plans with tiered ones. Now Engadget is reporting that the switch might come on July 29th. Because this is just a rumor so far, there’s no word yet on whether Verizon will offer the same 200 MB / 2 GB split as AT&T or whether it will grandfather in existing unlimited customers.
Reader Scoots was paying a promotional rate for Comcast internet. The rate expired and the bill went up to $48. Scoots called Comcast to ask for the old rate back and encountered a “four-square car dealership rip off” of sorts.
When CVS discovered that prices listed for brand-name drugs on its SilverScript Medicare site were mistakenly displayed at about 4% less than the drugs were actually being sold for, the company quickly fixed the glitch, according to a report in today’s Wall Street Journal. But what happened to customers who saw the “low” prices and ended up paying more at retail? According to The Journal, CVS cut a deal with the government, allowing the company to offer refunds only to customers who asked for them. CVS then sent letters to the customers that said they could call and discuss “your options,” and made no mention of the possibility of a refund.
Embassy Suites plans to launch a site next month that will let people buy sheets, comforters, pillows, coffee pots, and alarm clocks just like the ones in their hotel rooms, reports national hotel paper USA Today. A Hilton executive in charge of the Embassy brand says the company doesn’t plan to make much money off of it and that the items will be priced below retail, but I’m not sure that means you’ll find any bargains.
One of the cool things about the iPhone ecosystem is there are nearly 17 quintillion apps available for it, and although many of these are crap, the good ones frequently cost only a dollar or two. Even the premium-priced “productivity” apps–things like note pads and to-do lists–rarely cross the $10 threshhold, which means you can load up your iPhone or Touch with a lot of cool stuff on a modest software budget. But if a leaked video of the iPad app store is accurate, you can expect to pay 200-500% more for simple things like 99-cent games, and PC-level prices for more robust apps, on your fancy new iPad.
After the spat between Cablevision and Disney invaded the Oscar telecast last Sunday, the fees channels charge cable companies (who then pass them along to you) have come into the spotlight. All Things Digital posted a list from industry analyst SNL Kagan that shows the wholesale prices each channel charges cable companies for their product.
If you want a good deal on a high-end bottle of wine, a new study suggests you should look for wines that clearly indicate they’re made from organic grapes. An economics professor and an environmental science Ph.D. candidate compared wines made with certified organically grown grapes to conventional wines, looking at both price and taste rankings, and found that the organic ones scored on average one point higher on Wine Spectator’s rankings. For some reason, telling that to consumers seems to devalue the wine: high-scoring bottles that advertised their organic nature sold for less at retail, while bottles that withheld this info scored just as high on taste but also were priced higher than average.
Consumerist readers are on to you, Target. After reading the site for awhile, people are moving the sale cards over to see what the price used to be before it went “on sale.”
Yes, we suppose the only way to beat this sale is to have a store give you money for taking the thing off their hands.
Imagine trying to buy a book from Big Generic Bookstore and watching the cashier add $5 to the sticker price. “What are you doing?!” you cry out, waving a fist menacingly at him. “You look like you can afford it,” he says back to you with a hint of entitltement. That’s basically what a publishing industry expert said in a piece he wrote last week about ebook pricing.