Pricing That Makes You Go, “Huh?”

images-4So this morning I called to renew my, errr, son’s subscription to the MLB Insiders Club. It gets us him some “free” stuff as well as a monthly baseball magazine. Overall, I think it is a good deal.

I called because the letter I received had no place where I could renew on-line and, well, filling out a form and sending via the USPS is beneath me. I found it odd that you can join the program on-line, but not renew. So be it.

On the mail-in form the prices for renewal were listed thusly:

  • Three years – $59.00
  • Two years – $44.00
  • One year – $24.00

Not bad. This is pretty standard term-based preferred pricing, but here is where is gets weird.

When I called, the representative took my member number and said she would be happy to renew me at the following “rates:”

  • One year – $9.00
  • Two years – $18.00
  • Three years – $27.00

I renewed for three years, but now I am totally confused.

First, why is it cheaper, significantly cheaper, to call to renew as opposed to sending in the form?

Second, why did they present the prices highest to lowest on the mail piece, but lowest to highest over the phone?

Third, in both cases they used even dollar “9” pricing as the base, yet the form used the three-year price as the base and the call-in used the one-year price as the base. Why is that?

Fourth, why is it that via mail, I get a preferred price for a longer subscription, but via the phone, the price is less, but there is no preferred price for multiple years?

Fifth, is this an example of a great price discrimination strategy – charging more to the people who just renew using old technology (i.e., the mail) or an example of a company without a fricking clue as to pricing?

Sixth, why do I even care about this?

Sorry, that last question was my inside voice.

Your thoughts on the first five questions would be appreciated. I’ll reserve the last one for my shrink.

5 thoughts on “Pricing That Makes You Go, “Huh?”

  1. For #1, maybe it’s they have a pricing list and a minimum pricing list and the person you dealt with, not understanding value creation, went right toward the minimum pricing

    For #2, it may be that they do have them from high to low to be presented; however, they have not trained their phone staff on effective presentation of pricing.

    There’s always a human element. We may do well at establishing pricing, but if we don’t do well at educating the masses that are delivering the pricing and communicating with the customer, human nature will kick in. There is a good chance the person you spoke with is not even a fan of baseball, and has no clue why anyone would spend a dollar on this product/service.

  2. None of it makes any sense to me. These things are often outsourced; I smell human error in the mix.

    I think you really ought to introduce yourself to the publisher and see what is really going on. It’s either very interestingly unusual, or simply informing him that somebody has really dropped his ball.

    1. So I’m thinking if he calls the publisher to find out the publisher will look at it and raised all the prices and then he’d be out. Sorry Ed but the other thing is what if the publisher liked what he was saying hired him to make a good pricing policy Then he would have to decide where he’s going to make more money working for the publisher or paying the prices of the magazines. LOL OL

  3. You obviously just bought a warranty on the subscription without buying the subscription itself. Or maybe it was software assurance. Maybe they had thousands of these forms that they just bulk printed with a date and address and they date from before a price drop.

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