Angus MacTavish and his 25-year-old Yugo rattled to a stop in front of our store. Angus has been coming in for years but he never buys a thing. Angus comes in to compare prices and talk about his latest purchases. Over the years we have come to know that Angus’ ability to find the cheapest price for anything is surpassed only by a total absence of any concept of value. To Angus, price is all.
“I’m in the market for a new computer lad”; he said in his rich Scottish brogue, “If the price is right, I just might buy it from you” he said with a sly wink.
“Didn’t you tell me that you bought a new computer for half price at the computer show last fall?” I asked innocently. “Aye that I did lad” said Angus, “a great bargain it was too, but in a stroke of stupendous bad fortune the power supply blew and took out the hard drive and motherboard. It nearly burnt down me house. I was lucky to get out alive”.
“I thought you said it came with a lifetime warranty”. Angus looked irritated. “That it did lad, but the chap that sold it to me went belly up. You kinda fault a man for giving his customers such good pricing that he can’t make a living for himself can you?”
I had to admit there was some logic in Angus’ argument. I told Angus that we try to set our prices just high enough to stay in business. “Well then” said Angus, “can you match this price”?
Angus waved a full-page Fry’s ad featuring a PC for $199. “If you can beat this price I’ll take one today”. The PC in the ad was a motley assemblage of low end, semi-obsolete components with a Linux operating system. “Sorry Angus”, I said, “We just don’t build bottom end computers like that”. Angus bristled. “What are talking about bottom end, the brand name of the computer is Great Quality.” I just shrugged my shoulders but Angus continued. “Your computers have a hard drive, CPU, RAM, DVD, motherboard, case, floppy, operating system and a power cord don’t they? “Of course they do” I said. “Well” crowed Angus, “so does this one lad, so you had better climb down off your high horse and start cutting your prices before the competition drives you into the ground”
I tried to think of a way to make Angus understand how quality can affect the value of things. “You drive an old Yugo, right?” I said. “Aye” said Angus warily; “It gets me from here to there”. “Well” I continued “does your Yugo have four wheels, an engine, windows, doors, a steering wheel, a gas pedal and brakes. just like a brand new $50,000 BMW” Angus brightened. “I suppose it does at that lad,” he said. Now I proceeded to drive my point home.”Then why isn’t your Yugo worth $50,000” Angus turned red and bolted toward the door, “I wouldn’t pay $50,000 for an overpriced BMW nor will I pay your outrageous prices for a computer,” he shouted over his shoulder.
A thick blue cloud followed Angus and his Yugo as he exited our parking lot and turned toward Fry’s.