I’ve mentioned it before, but Joel Spolsky wrote a great article a few years ago about pricing, and noted that companies would ideally like everybody to pay as much as they are willing to for their products.

In economist jargon, capitalists want to capture the consumer surplus.

Let’s do this. Instead of charging $220, let’s ask each of our customers if they are rich or if they are poor. If they say they’re rich, we’ll charge them $349. If they say they’re poor, we’ll charge them $220.

Seriously, it’s a great article, and well worth a read, to learn about how pricing is done, even if you’re not particularly interested in economics.

One method for this type of pricing in the USA is for supermarkets and other stores to publish coupons in the newspapers and catalogues. If the time-rich (eg poor) people have the time to go find the coupons and cut them out and remember to take them shopping, they’ll earn an extra discount. Others won’t bother.

Coles coupons

Recently Coles has been trying it here. The catalogue has some coupons with a barcode on it, and if you snip it out and take it along, you got an extra discount.

I wonder if anybody bothers?