Monday, 4 January 2016

JB Norman and Harvey Hi Fi

Back at 10th grade, give or take a year, we studied Shai Agnon's novella, "Vehaya Ha'akov Lemishor" ("The Crooked Shall Be Made Straight").You probably never heard of Agnon, but let me assure you the guy won a Nobel for his writings.
That novella I mentioned features a hero who, essentially, ends up paying for his sins he commits earlier during the story. I do recall our teacher to matters of literature baffling us with her citings of the hero's perceived sins. The strange thing about it was her listing the hero discounting his shop's merchandise as a sin.
Why was it that, according to my then teacher, discounting was a sin? Her logic was that discounting is not a uniform act; one customer gets a discount, another doesn't. One customer gets a certain discount, another gets a bigger one. By offering discounts our hero was discriminating certain people over others.

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Which brings me back to modern day Australia.
We are currently at the ebb of the Boxing Day / New Year sales, where discounting is rife. That said, one can clearly note the various ways in which different shops do their discounting.
If there is any shop out there that reminds of Agnon's sinful merchant, it is Harvey Norman. Its pricing strategy is to lure you in and get you to pay big time for things one can get for much less at their competitors; they get away with it by promising to match the competition's prices. Once you prove someone else offers the same product for less, they will act totally surprised (seriously, if they are unaware of what the competition is doing then they do not deserve to exist), create a bit of a fuss as if they're doing you the biggest personal favour ever, and sell you the product at the price they should have sold it to you in the first place. Most people don't bother; they just pay the premium price.
So yeah, I consider the Harvey Normans of this world to be sinners, just like my 10th grade literature teacher did.  And I also regard it rather tragic that other chains, like the previously attractive JB Hi Fi, are turning more and more Harvey Norman like.
Us consumers should help steer those haggling Meccas to the hell they deserve.

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