When Kitty PoP can buy $50 worth of chocolate covered almonds and stale popcorn, you know it’s gotten too easy to buy stuff these days.
Here’s How It Went
Recently Mr PoP and I were in a hotel for a business trip and Kitty PoP had to come with us. In this particular hotel, there are two weight-sensitive mini bars in the room. One enclosed in a fridge, the other on top of the dresser. We’re told at check-in that if you pick up any mini-bar item for more than 20 seconds, your account is automatically charged for it.
The thing is, one of Kitty PoP’s favorite activities is to “test gravity”. By that we mean that if we leave anything lightweight out on a countertop, and he wants our attention, he’ll go over to said item and use his paw to slide it off the counter. He does this intentionally – the little bastard. He’ll look you right in the eye from across the room and start sliding a coffee mug to the edge of the table. So at 4:39 am when I wake up to the sound of something falling off the dresser in the hotel room, I fear that Kitty PoP has bought himself some nuts. Or bought us some nuts. As a gift. How nice, right?
Luckily he didn’t get the nuts. It was a hairbrush I had left out. But it could have just as easily been the nuts or the bottle of VOSS water or the mini Snickers bars. Any of which would have been quite pricey. So it makes you wonder. How the heck have we gotten to the point where buying stuff is so easy that Kitty PoP can do it.
Where Else Can We Buy Too Easily?
- Amazon 1-Click. Seriously. One Click. The name says it all. One click will deliver one of these classy $5,000 tvs to your door. (It’s apparently bigger in real life!)
- iTunes purchases have gotten slightly harder to complete automatically, now requiring re-entering a password to complete the transaction thanks to this lawsuit between Apple and parents that settled recently. Kids were getting a hold of mommy’s iPhone to play Fruit Ninja or Angry Birds and buying hundreds of dollars in game add-ons without mommy or daddy realizing until the credit card bill arrived.
- Subscriptions like magazines, newspapers, other media like Netflix or Hulu, or even non-media subscriptions like your local gym often always require you to sign on for auto-pay, which often turns into an automatic renewal if you’re not paying attention.
- Opening a tab at a restaurant or bar. Ever lost track of how many drinks you and friends put on an open tab when you went out to a bar?
Ostensibly, these are all convenience services that the businesses provide to the consumer. They make our lives easier by making it take as little effort and as little thought as possible for us to get what we want. Mind you, that’s not what we need – but what we want. But is easy access to virtually unlimited wants really in the consumer’s best interests?
Who Does Lowering the Barrier to Purchase Really Benefit?
Let’s stop fooling ourselves that these are blessed conveniences. We all led perfectly full lives before we eliminated the need to enter credit card and shipping information online before making purchases.
Lowering the barrier to purchase really only benefits one entity – the service provider. By making it easier for the consumer to do what consumers do – consume! – they increase their revenue per customer. Which, provides nice top-line revenue growth, while also likely boosting margins. A double-win for the company. At the expense of the consumer’s bottom line.
Let’s Fight It Whenever Possible
- Turn off one-click.
- Ask for the mini-bar to be removed from your hotel room.
- Buy magazines one at a time.
I’m not saying freeze all your credit cards in blocks of ice that require days to thaw if you want to make a purchase. But just by making it incrementally harder to make a purchase, you will force yourself to stop and consider that purchase and make sure it’s something you will truly value before just buying in sight.
What other purchases have gotten too easy these days? What do you do to raise your barrier to purchase?
* Links through to Amazon are affiliate, so any purchases made through the links will provide a small kick back to the PoPs. Unless you buy that tv for $5K. The kick back on that might not be quite so small.