Price and Consequences

July 28, 2010
Posted by Jay Livingston

The Penn Station news stand this morning. The young man ahead of me has stacked his two items on the counter – a book (50 Great Short Stories) and a pack of Marlboros. He shows an ID card to the cashier, an East Indian woman. He knows the drill.

She taps the Marlboro pack. “This is fifteen dollars,” she says

He pauses, then nods. “O.K.” He takes a twenty out of his wallet.

She rings up the sale. “Twenty-two sixty,” she says.

The young man seems puzzled for a moment. Then he brings out his wallet again and takes out a ten.

As I pay for my newspaper ($2), I ask, “Most people, when you tell them it’s fifteen dollars, do they still buy it or do they walk away?”

“Most no.”

“Because they’re going to quit, or because they can get it cheaper someplace else?”*

“No, I think maybe they go home and think about it.”

*The price at most places is $11 a pack. Philip Morris filed a federal suit yesterday against eight NYC retailers for selling counterfeit Marlboros.

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