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November 21, 2003

Coinstar Rant

I was walking by the supermarket today, and through the window I could see the big green CoinStar coin counting machine. You see these in a lot of grocery stores and they are a sliding scale ripoff.

Like a lot of people I accumulate many coins. I empty my pockets into a bowl on my dresser. Every couple of years I'll spend an evening sorting and rolling them so I can take them to the bank. The idea of pouring them into a machine is very appealling. But it's expensive.

CoinStar charges 8.9% of the value of the coins counted. That means they charge 9 cents to count 100 pennies. That's not too bad. I'd pay that.

But to count 100 quarters they charge $2.23. Now explain to me how counting quarters is 25 times more expensive, more valuable, than counting pennies?

It's a machine. They're all just coins. A little bit different sized, but really all the same, as far as the machine is concerned.

What they really should do is charge not a percentage, but by the coin. 9 cents per 100 coins counted, regardless of the denomination. That would be good. That would be more fair. I'd use that service.

Posted by jghiii at November 21, 2003 09:45 PM
Posted by: sherman on November 22, 2003 01:01 AM

It's the hook. The sneaky hook.

It's like 10 10 220. The commercials make you think it is all so good to have 20 minutes for a dollar. But what they never explain is that it is actually all calls up to 20 minutes. So a one minute call is also a buck. A 2 minute call is a buck.

Fair? No. And that's what coinstar is doing as well because most people don't think like you do Jack -- they automatically extrapolate savings in a way that may seem logical but isn't. And these services count on that. They count on people being stupid and lazy and not really examining what's the real deal is. You can't go wrong thinking you can make money off of the stupidity of people.

Posted by: Steve Garfield on November 22, 2003 09:00 AM

I just took a look at the 10-10-220 web site.

Guess what?

Calls are 15 cents/minute over there after 20 minutes.

Their web site says, "Dial 10-10-220 and it's 99 for all calls up to 15 minutes and 15 a minute after that"

Posted by: Jack on November 22, 2003 12:45 PM

Sherm's right about it being human nature to not look too carefully at this kind of thing.

I remember when I was a kid, there was a roadside stand that sold corn on the cob. The sign said the pricing was, "30 cents a dozen, three dozen for a dollar."

Posted by: Sherman on November 22, 2003 02:18 PM

In N Out in Pinole has been getting a lot of Sherman loving lately, and it took an undergrad with me one night to point out that their meal specials aren't specials at all. They list Meals #1, 2, and 3 at the bottom of their overhead menus just like Burger King and McD's would do -- but they carefully avoid calling them specials or anything that would imply a discount. But since you are so ingrained into thinking that way because of the two big guys -- you automatically assume the combo meals are at a discount. But no -- they cost exactly the same as if you ordered the food separately.

Posted by: jgh on November 22, 2003 04:46 PM

Sherm wrote:

"In N Out in Pinole has been getting a lot of Sherman loving lately"

See, now that's a kinda disturbing sentence.

Posted by: sherman on November 22, 2003 06:37 PM

No. "Little Johnny has been getting a lot of King of Pop loving" is a disturbing thought.

And speaking of stupid do those fans think he's still innocent. I loved Jon Stewart the first night the story broke when he asked "Is there anyone who didn't see this train wreck coming?" The amazing thimg to me is it turns out the kid making the accusations is the one from the video last winter -- holding hands with El Creepo and talking about how they sleep together. The wacko thinks he so above the law that he can even publically hint at what's going on and think he'll get away with it.

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