Tag Archives: economics

There Must Be A Reason

I am an economist by training, and somewhat by temperament. I understand the concepts of self interest and incentives. I understand the profit motive. I understand why Rachel keeps calling me. You do know Rachel, don’t you?

“Hi, this is Rachel at Cardholder Services. There is not problem with your card, but … “ [click] I have never heard the rest of her spiel, but she keeps trying.

We’d thought to get rid of our landline, because Rachel was practically our only caller on it. Then she began calling our cell phones, from local numbers. Do Not Call lists to the contrary, no phone is safe from Rachel. She even recently called our landline FROM ITS OWN NUMBER. At least, that’s what showed up on Caller ID.

Someone invests time and money and creative energy to get me to answer when Rachel calls. Why? Because someone else out there is buying into whatever she is selling! They keep trying because there is profit in it. Because it works. Why send out tons of junk mail? Because it works.

So I am sure there is an economic rationale for the phenomenon I call Annoy the Customer Marketing. There is probably a whole academic literature on the topic: PhDs in marketing awarded on clever theoretical models explaining why my grocery store moved the Hawaiian Bread 15 yards away from the bakery section into the middle of the meat department; Masters theses prompting a leading big box store to split its inventory of desk calendars into thirds and locate them at random around the store; graduate courses teaching the profit potential in noise pollution: Add un-mutable TVs to the gas pumps; replace towels with deafness-inducing hand blasters in public restrooms; crank up the volume of in-store music to headache levels. Watch your profits soar!

It’s unseemly to be so curmudgeonly here at Christmas time. Merry Christmas, Rachel. Season’s Greetings. Happy Holidays. I wish you well.