the price is (al)right

Price discrimination is not a new thing. There are anecdotes showing it has been applied in ancient times. “The King was charged an exorbitant price for an egg while on a visit to the countryside. “Oh, eggs must be rare around these parts!” the King exclaims. “Oh, no. The eggs are not rare, Kings are.” retorted the villager.

Or even some years back when I was visiting Albania I discovered that returning emigres living abroad like myself, were being charged double for a haircut compared to people living there.

The list goes on…

Who would have thought that western corporations would join the likes of medieval peasants and Albanian barbers in applying this time honored technique?

An article on ABC news today, pointed out that Mac users are more likely to be shown higher prices than PC users, while shopping for fares on Orbitz says its data show that Mac users spend as much as 30 percent more on hotels than PC users do. Great! Does this mean that Mac users are richer, or just that PC users are cheap? They should have included this in the “I am a mac, I am a pc” ad.

Even more intriguing is recent a patent application, which aims to present the invention of “guessing” a user’s purchasing power online, and using that information to display the highest price that the user can bear. Fantastic! Those who have more must pay more. It is the same with taxes.

Or is it?