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Raise your hand if you know what “Opportunity Cost” means

August 4, 2008

I will fully admit: I love finding deals on things I want to buy. I will spend time comparing prices and browsing Fatwallet and other deal discussion forums. However, there are limits. I value my time (maybe not correctly) and I don’t want to waste a day saving a few dollars. Spending 30 minutes looking for a coupon or deal that saves 10% off a big ticket electronic item or expensive vacation is worth it; spending 30 minutes looking for a coupon for $0.50 off a 2 liter of Pepsi is not.

So even in my bargain hunting mentality I don’t understand people who spend hours and hours waiting in lines for “free” items. In Ohio, Papa John’s gave out $0.23 pizzas as penance for a T-shirt with their logo and a nasty comment about Lebron James during the NBA playoffs. Some people waited in line for 5 hours to get a $0.23 pizza. After 5 hours this pizza is no longer free, or even a good deal. Think of what you could make in 5 hours of work. Or how much you could do with 5 hours of free time. And you don’t even know when they are going to run out and shut the whole deal down.

Or more recently here in the District, the union that represents WMATA workers handed out free metro passes (value: $10) a few weeks back. People lined up outside several hours in advance to get them. Presumably there were many people there who took time off of work to get a “free” card. Again, how is giving up 3 or more hours of wages and/or free time worth only $10?

If I was homeless these deals would be awesome, but as someone who would have to take time off of a job, I don’t see how this is worth it.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Ashley permalink
    August 4, 2008 11:25 am

    That pizza deal here in Ohio was insane. The news reported people waiting for up to six hours in line and the police were dispatched on four separate calls to break up fights caused by line jumpers.

    To top it off, Chipotle ran the same kind of deal a few weeks later, offering up a free burrito to anyone who got in line between 5 and 8 PM. I would like to say that it was merely homeless people that subjected themselves to the wait as they probably had nothing else to do, but I when I saw the line cross the span of six city blocks, I was blown away.

    Waiting in line is probably my least favorite thing to do. I would gladly pay $10 to avoid it.

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