In The Trenches

That cost what?!

Published on July 11, 2016 Back to blog
Burger, Fries and a Beer

After my last blog post reflecting upon my recent visit to Poland and challenging the virtues of hope, I thought it would be nice to share a slightly lighter perspective from the second part of that trip. 

When my wife and I left Poland, we flew to Lviv, Ukraine, where she was to give another lecture on US corporate law. Upon settling in at our hotel, I immediately went out to find the nearest cafe to get a coffee and a bite to eat while my wife got ready for her class. 

Not far from the hotel, I found a quaint coffee shop in the city center, where English was barley spoken. Through a series of pointing and nodding, I successfully placed my order of two lattes, a chocolate eclair and piece of cake (a very healthy lunch). I was then presented with a bill of 127 AHS. I had no idea what this actually meant in USD, but I happily gave them my credit card and went my merry way.

As my wife and I enjoyed our snack back at the hotel room, I jumped online to figure out what I had just paid. The total bill was $5.08. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t get one latte for that price at a Starbucks – and these lattes were actually better. While my wife was at her class, I walked around the Lviv city center, obsessed with what things cost.  I wasn’t even that hungry when I stopped for a burger, fries and a beer – how could I resist for just $2.25?  Later that night, my wife and I grabbed dinner at Kumpel (a place recommended at the tourist office), and the total bill for the entire meal, including appetizers, drinks and desert came to $17 – and that was with my wife accidentally ordering two entrees.

How quickly my perspective changed.  The next day, I was gun shy at spending more than $4 on virtually anything.  My wife wanted to get a t-shirt for $6, and I actually suggested that we could probably get it cheaper elsewhere. (She did get the t-shirt.)  At the chocolate factory, I wrestled with spending $10 for five large bars of locally-made chocolate. (Although I did end up getting them – I can’t say no to chocolate!). And, when we went to grab dessert at the hotel after dinner, we literally got up and left after seeing that a piece of chocolate cake cost almost $6. How dare them!

As we enjoyed our strudel with ice cream, cheese cake, mocha frappe and a cup of hot chocolate (all for less than $5) at a place outside of the hotel, my wife and I reminisced about our visit to Thailand last year, where we literally got out of a cab that was going to charge us 25% more than what we paid the night before. As we waited for another cab, we realized that the difference amounted to about $0.50. But the principle! (Our kids still make fun of us for that one.)  And, I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time paying more than $0.99 for almost any app for my iPhone. With so many apps available for free, paying more than that just seems outrageous.

This may all seem a bit ridiculous. However, the reality is that, more than anything, we hate getting ripped off.  It is a personal assault on our intelligence.  And when we fall for it, we feel taken advantage of – regardless of the cost.

The good news for business and marketing professionals is that it is all a matter of perspective. Change the comparison, and we see things differently.  May I interest you in an app for $14.99? 

Jeff Freedman
CEO/Managing Partner
Small Army | Finn Partners