Pricing / Discounts / Costs / Rebates
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Articles and Resources
Date Fairness.com Resource Read it at: Apr 14, 2016 Investigating the algorithms that govern our lives
QUOTE: Venkatasubramanian is a computer science professor at the University of Utah. He’s someone who thinks about algorithmic fairness, ever since he read a short story by Cory Doctorow published in 2006, called “Human Readable.” The story takes place in a future world, similar to ours, but in which all national infrastructure (traffic, email, the media, etc.) is run by “centralized emergent networks,” modeled after ant colonies. Or in other words: a network of algorithms. The plot revolves around two lovers: a network engineer who is certain the system is incorruptible, and a lawyer who knows it’s already been corrupted. “It got me thinking,” says Venkatasubramanian. “What happens if we live in a world that is totally driven by algorithms?”
Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) Sep 15, 2014 Medical costs: Hospital observation can be pricey
QUOTE: The distinction between inpatient and outpatient status matters: Seniors must have three consecutive days as admitted patients to qualify for Medicare coverage for follow-up nursing home care, and observation time doesn’t count for that three-day tally.
Charlotte Observer May 24, 2014 Amazon's Tactics Confirm Its Critics' Worst Suspicions
QUOTE: This week, as part of a contract dispute with the publisher Hachette, we're seeing Amazon behaving at its worst. The company's willingness to nakedly flex its anticompetitive muscle gives new cause for concern to anyone who cares about books...
New York Times Dec 27, 2013 Academics Who Defend Wall St. Reap Reward
QUOTE: major players on Wall Street and elsewhere have been aggressive in underwriting and promoting academic work. The efforts by the financial players, the interviews show, are part of a sweeping campaign to beat back regulation and shape policies that affect the prices that people around the world pay for essentials like food, fuel and cotton.
New York Times Dec 16, 2013 Customers Out in the Cold Balk at Uber Surge Pricing
QUOTE: On New Year’s Eve 2011, Uber, a company that connects passengers and drivers of luxury vehicles, had a bit of a falling-out with its customers.....Uber had put “surge pricing” into effect, which increases the price of rides as more people request them.
New York Times Dec 03, 2013 The Wedding Fix Is In
QUOTE: Wedding vendors seemed to be trying to size me up to figure out how much I’m willing to pay; consumer advocates say this is a common practice, as is charging more for a given service for a wedding than for a “family function” or “corporate event.”...forms of what economists call price discrimination; it sounds unfair, but it’s perfectly legal, and it’s easier to get away with in markets where there’s little price transparency and consumers are relatively uninformed.
New York Times Dec 02, 2013 As Hospital Prices Soar, a Stitch Tops $500
QUOTE: A day spent as an inpatient at an American hospital costs on average more than $4,000, five times the charge in many other developed countries...Rising costs of drugs, medical equipment and other services, and fees from layers of middlemen, play a significant role in escalating hospital bills, of course. But just as important is that mergers and consolidation have resulted in a couple of hospital chains — like Partners in Boston, or Banner in Phoenix — dominating many parts of the country...
New York Times Nov 07, 2013 What is an airline credit really worth?
QUOTE: lately, many airlines have made their credit even more difficult to turn into a usable ticket through a combination of aggressive new policies, fees and restrictions. The net effect could be that your next ticket credit might not be as valuable as you think.
Washington Post Sep 24, 2013 Don't get blind-sided by hidden travel fees
QUOTE: That cheap rate on the screen rarely includes all fees. Without the help of a knowledgeable travel agent or a resource like NerdWallet that compares fees for a given airline route, it's challenging to calculate your total cost. Hotels, cruises and especially airlines like this model because fees have allowed them to stay profitable while slashing their base prices to appear competitive.
CNN/Money Magazine Sep 09, 2013 Hey, Senior Discount, You Look Pretty Youthful!
QUOTE: Welcome to the flexible and often generous world of senior discounts, where prime of life can be considered old and even the wealthy are entitled to special deals. It is a land of shifting perspectives reflecting the realities, economic and otherwise, of a graying America.
New York Times Jul 04, 2013 As Competition Wanes, Amazon Cuts Back Discounts
QUOTE: with Borders dead, Barnes & Noble struggling and independent booksellers greatly diminished, for many consumers there is simply no other way to get many books than through Amazon. And for some books, Amazon is, in effect, beginning to raise prices.
New York Times Jun 22, 2013 Halving the Portion, but Not the Price (The Haggler)
QUOTE: You’re at a grocery store and pick up your favorite jar of peanut butter — or box of pasta, or can of soup — and realize that something is a little off. Like, 20 percent off....A lot of shrinkage is so subtle that it’s hard to escape the sense — and please forgive the Haggler’s cynicism here — that manufacturers may be trying to sweeten their profits on the sly. Because rarely do these reductions in container size come with proportional reductions in price.
New York Times May 02, 2013 Secret 'pocket listings' return in hot housing markets
QUOTE: In some cases, agents may try to convince sellers to use pocket listings in order to double their commissions by acting as agent for both the buyer and the seller...."If an agent is putting their own economic interest ahead of the seller's, it's a violation of state law."
CNN (Cable News Network) Mar 31, 2013 Is A ‘Just Looking’ Fee A Smart Business Decision?
QUOTE: To complicate things even further for brick and mortars, the rise of smartphones has made it easy for consumers to walk into a store, browse the inventory, and comparison shop right from within. Stores risk losing customers to competitors before they’ve even left the store....As of the first of February, this store will be charging people a $5 fee per person for “just looking.”
WebProNews Mar 04, 2013 List Price = Joke Price: 4 Examples of How Original Prices Are Meaningless
QUOTE: ...JCPenney CEO Ron Johnson came clean about how the store’s original prices were fake prices cooked up mainly to make the inevitable markdowns seem more impressive and tempting to shoppers. The strategy is known as “price anchoring,” and it’s standard practice....While the new system sounded great to many consumer advocates, it proved to be a failure with shoppers...
Time Magazine Nov 30, 2012 Aid Changes Raise Issue of Diversity at Colleges
QUOTE: a number of prestigious smaller colleges are straining to meet students’ financial needs. To bridge the gap, some colleges have begun revising their financial aid formulas, raising concerns about how campus diversity — both economic and racial — might be affected.
New York Times Nov 29, 2012 Guardianship case in McLean illustrates lack of regulation for those caring for the elderly
QUOTE: raised questions among elder-care advocates and legislators about how a small number of paid guardians — both lawyers and non-lawyer professionals — are treating the aging and how states oversee the process.
Washington Post Aug 14, 2012 Factory owners: Federal prisoners stealing our business
QUOTE: Unicor is a government-run enterprise that employs over 13,000 inmates -- at wages as low as 23 cents an hour -- to make goods for the Pentagon and other federal agencies....If Unicor wants a contract, it gets it.
CNN/Money Magazine Jun 22, 2012 Getting Lost in the Labyrinth of Medical Bills
QUOTE: With the exception of Medicare and Medicaid, experts say, the amount paid for services — or the price your insurers pay — is based on the market power of the insurance company on the one side and the hospitals and providers on the other, and the reimbursement agreements they ultimately reach. So large insurers that command a lot of market power may be able to negotiate lower rates than smaller companies with less influence.
New York Times Mar 15, 2012 A Meter So Expensive, It Creates Parking Spots
QUOTE: ...San Francisco is trying to shorten the hunt with an ambitious experiment that aims to make sure that there is always at least one empty parking spot available on every block that has meters. The program, which uses new technology and the law of supply and demand, raises the price of parking on the city’s most crowded blocks and lowers it on its emptiest blocks....acknowledged that the program was “complicated on the social equity level.”
New York Times Mar 15, 2012 It's Not All About You: What Privacy Advocates Don't Get About Data Tracking on the Web
QUOTE: The privacy discourse frames the issue in an ego-centric manner, as a bargain between consumers and companies: the company will know x, y and z about me and in exchange I get free email, good recommendations, and a plethora of convenient services. But the bargain that we are making is a collective one, and the costs will be felt at a societal scale. When we think in terms of power, it is clear we are getting a raw deal: we grant private entities -- with no interest in the public good and no public accountability -- greater powers of persuasion than anyone has ever had before and in exchange we get free email.
Atlantic Online, The (Atlantic Monthly) Jan 27, 2012 Wanted: Banking App to Monitor Balances (Your Money)
QUOTE: If you want to know how close you are in the middle of any given month to being assessed an $8 or $10 or $20 fee when the month ends, you need to do the math each day yourself. The resulting effect is this: Many banks have built free-checking scoreboards for people who want to avoid fees, but they’re not putting the numbers up until the monthlong game is over.
New York Times Jan 16, 2012 Consumer Reports: Brand-name drugs can be far more costly but no more effective
QUOTE: Just 5 percent of patients learn about the price of prescribed drugs during the doctor visit, according to a survey by the Consumer Reports National Research Center. But many expensive brand-name medications have equally effective counterparts that cost far less.
Washington Post Dec 12, 2011 Amazon Denies It Has a Small-Business Problem (You're the Boss)
QUOTE: For years — since its inception — Amazon has been at implicit war with local brick-and-mortar stores. Last week, the implicit seemingly became explicit when Amazon began a promotion that encouraged customers to check out prices at local retailers and use a specially designed “Price Check” smartphone app to report what they found back to Amazon. Customers who then purchased the same item from Amazon received a 5 percent discount, up to $5.
New York Times Oct 06, 2011 Fired IT workers fight back against H-1B visa abuse: Hindi-only meetings and mass firings of experienced U.S. workers for cheaper foreign labor just as tech job demands grow
QUOTE: Skilled IT workers in the United States are fired and replaced with low-paid overseas employees and holders of H-1B visas....the story of Molina is a bit different than the usual outsourcing horror stories we hear all too often. Workers at Molina are fighting back with a lawsuit...
InfoWorld Oct 06, 2011 Charging for Debit Cards Is Robbery
QUOTE: When Bank of America told its customers recently that it would start charging them $5 a month to use debit cards, it argued that it was forced to make that change because of regulations that altered the economics of the cards....But the banks’ simplistic statements are merely an attempt to rationalize and obfuscate one of the largest illegal transfers of wealth from consumers to banks in American history.
New York Times Jun 20, 2011 A Little Clarity in the Fuzzy World of Airline Fees
QUOTE: one thing is clear from my conversations with business travelers, travel managers, air travel analysts and even government officials. They’re all looking for some consensus on how to define the [airline] fees, how to disclose them, and how to account and budget for them.
New York Times Jun 10, 2011 Revealing Hidden Costs of Your 401(k) (Your Money)
QUOTE: the costs are embedded in the expenses of many of the mutual funds you pick. In a practice known as revenue sharing, fund companies refund some of the expenses to the service provider running your plan to pay for its administrative costs....people with higher balances and higher expense ratios on their investments end up subsidizing their fellow workers.
New York Times May 30, 2011 Where ‘Free’ Costs a Lot
QUOTE: Although many carriers charge passengers flying with award tickets some government taxes and fees, foreign airlines are increasingly adding fuel surcharges to the bill...
New York Times Jan 20, 2011 Amazon.com: The Wal-Mart of Android apps?
QUOTE: there's too much incentive for Amazon.com to undercut competing app stores as a way to drive business to its own....The net effect is that when you offer your apps on the Amazon Appstore, you agree to grant Amazon.com, in perpetuity, the right to offer a lower price for your apps than is available anywhere else
InfoWorld Jun 30, 2010 The Good Driller Award
QUOTE: as long as we continue to drill for oil and mine for coal, we must do everything we can to make those industries safer. That includes not just tough, well-enforced regulations, economic liabilities and criminal penalties for companies that prove too dangerous, but also positive incentives and public rewards for those that put safety first.
New York Times Jun 10, 2010 Bringing Comparison Shopping to the Doctor’s Office
QUOTE: there has been no easy way for consumers to shop for the best deal on a colonoscopy or blood test. A start-up financed by prominent venture capitalists and the Cleveland Clinic, Castlight Health, aims to change that by building a search engine for health care prices.
New York Times Jun 06, 2010 Colleges offer grants, work-study to reduce students' debt
QUOTE: More than 50 colleges -- including elite private schools and flagship state universities in Virginia and Maryland -- have eliminated or capped loans in their financial aid portfolios for some or all students, promising enough aid in grants and work-study to cover most of the gap between what they charge and what each student can afford to pay. At a handful of private universities with sizable endowments, including Princeton, Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania, the goal is quite literally to eliminate loan debt for most graduating seniors.
Washington Post Jun 02, 2010 Heaviest Users of Phone Data Will Pay More
QUOTE: The trouble for AT&T was that a fraction of users — fewer than 2 percent — made such heavy use of the network that they slowed it down for everyone else. Starting on Monday, AT&T will offer tiered pricing. People will pay based on what they use, which the company says is fairer to everyone.
New York Times May 18, 2010 How to work the the rebate racket: Gripe Line readers have strong opinions on rebates -- and share some strategies for dealing with them
QUOTE: companies only offer rebates in the expectation many of them will go unfulfilled; the obstacles people encounter getting their money are intended to discourage their participation and, thus, improve on the percentage of unfulfilled rebates. For some people, this means avoiding any rebate offer, but others take a more calculated approach.
InfoWorld May 14, 2010 City Seeks to Revoke Licenses for Cab Overcharges
QUOTE: New York City moved on Friday to revoke the cab licenses of 633 taxi drivers who it said routinely charged customers higher out-of-town rates for trips within the five boroughs. The city said some of the overcharging was so egregious that it had asked prosecutors to investigate.
New York Times May 14, 2010 Debit Fee Cut Is a Rare Loss for Big Banks
QUOTE: Retailers have begged Congress for years, in vain, to limit the fees they must pay to banks when customers swipe credit or debit cards...That long record of futility ended in a landslide Thursday night. Sixty-four senators, including 17 Republicans, agreed to impose price controls on debit transactions over the furious objections of the beleaguered banking industry.
New York Times May 07, 2010 The Trades of a Lifetime in 20 Minutes
QUOTE: sudden panic and recovery on Thursday that briefly knocked some stocks down to a penny or two a share....several large United States exchanges said that although their trading platforms functioned properly on Thursday, they were nonetheless canceling many trades made during the market’s Big Bounce.
New York Times Apr 09, 2010 Wiseguys face the music for trying to play it smart in online ticketing
QUOTE: Federal investigators charge that a ring of hackers working for Wiseguy Tickets Inc. cracked security measures at Ticketmaster and other major vendors. They gained control of 1.5 million tickets to popular and coveted concerts and sporting events nationwide between 2002 and 2009. Operating mainly out of Los Angeles and San Francisco, the Wiseguys earned $25 million, as prosecutors tally it, selling premium seats at inflated prices to brokers who resold them at even higher markups to the public.
Washington Post Mar 23, 2010 Priceless: how our unknowing irrationality confounds the price of everything
QUOTE: ...Poundstone's treatment of the history of behavioral economics is both funny and fascinating, a kind of counterpoint to the history set out in Myth of the Rational Market.
Boing Boing Jan 09, 2010 The Damage of Card Rewards (Your Money)
QUOTE: the 1 to 3 percent or more of every transaction that merchants pay to accept the cards is a significant cost, and the small local retailers that make neighborhoods vibrant often pay a higher percentage. Stores then build those fees into higher prices, so people who aren’t earning any rewards can end up subsidizing those who do.
New York Times Sep 14, 2009 Insurers Fight Speech-Impairment Remedy
QUOTE: Medicare and private health insurers decline to cover cheap devices like iPhones and netbook PCs that can help the speech-impaired, despite their usefulness and lower cost.
New York Times Sep 02, 2009 The Fix Is In: The hidden public-private cartel that sets health care prices.
QUOTE: Fundamentally, the entire payment model of American health care drives medical centers, doctors, and hospital managers to push for more fancy procedures at the expense of primary care doctors.
Slate Aug 24, 2009 Dialysis treatment in USA: High costs, high death rates
QUOTE: Although the USA spends more per dialysis patient than other countries, that does not result in higher survival rates or even, many argue, a better quality of life.
USA TODAY Aug 20, 2009 The unkindest cuts: Economics focus
QUOTE: Monopoly explanations now compete with theories that see the same behaviour [Discounting] as helpful to consumers. That has made it harder to sort malign from benign business practices.
Economist Aug 20, 2009 FCC asks us all: what, exactly, is broadband? The FCC wants you to tell the agency what you mean by "broadband," and how the Commission should redefine the term as technology changes.
QUOTE: The FCC has put out a Public Notice asking the wise to help them define "broadband [Internet]."
Ars Technica Aug 19, 2009 Obama endangering developing countries' access to affordable drugs, activists charge
QUOTE: [activists] say the problem may lie in the administration's reluctance to confront the giant pharmaceutical companies at a time when the companies are crucial allies in President Obama's struggle to revamp the U.S. healthcare system.
Aug 18, 2009 Why AT&T Killed Google Voice: Telecom operators are yesterday's business. It's time for a national data policy that encourages innovation.
QUOTE: AT&T is dragging down the rest of us by overcharging us for voice calls and stifling innovation in a mobile data market critical to the U.S. economy.
Wall Street Journal, The (WSJ) Aug 16, 2009 Job Search Firms: Big Pitches and Fees, Few Jobs
QUOTE: Mr. [Kerry] Fischman’s experience highlights the vulnerability of job seekers as they cast about for help in the most difficult job market in decades and encounter a bewildering and largely unregulated array of individuals and businesses offering assistance. While some customers have benefited from their work, others have accused the companies of using misleading sales tactics.
New York Times Aug 14, 2009 Major Carriers Shun Broadband Stimulus: Funds Would Come With Tighter Rules
QUOTE: The Obama administration made a national priority of spreading high-speed Internet access to every American home and offered stimulus money to help companies pay for it, but the biggest network operators are staying away from the program.
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