Price creep – when that “good deal” no longer is

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Price creep

It seems that the days of fixed prices for goods and services are long gone and we are now back in the days of haggling in the bazaar.

True? Well almost, but now the advantage seems to lie completely with the seller whose prices are decided from moment to moment by one of the dreaded algorithms that seem to infest our society.

We decide that we would like to visit an old friend who lives about two hours’ flying time away. We look up the various airlines, check the timetables, and decide on our travel plans. But wait! Let’s first check out hotels so we’d better see what’s available on that front. Great, there’s a hotel in a suitable location at an affordable price so let’s go back and book that flight. After all, there’s no point in having a hotel room booked without being able to get there.

Elated and excited, we go back to the airline website only to find that, in the space of twenty minutes or so, the price of that very same flight has risen by 25-30%. The dreaded algorithm has been at work.

Reluctantly and suitably deflated, we book the flight at the increased price and dejectedly go back to the hotel website where the price of our accommodation has also risen by 20% or so. Our holiday is turning out significantly more expensive than we had provided for in our budget.

Oh dear, let’s scrap the whole idea and stay at home. Back to the two websites where we see that cancellation fees apply so we are either stuck with a trip that we now cannot really afford or we chuck away the amount of the cancellation fees which we can’t really afford either.

This price creep is not too different from that which we sometimes come up against when taking our car in for a service or getting someone in to fix that squeaking floorboard. Is there no-one who’s prepared to quote a fixed price or is everybody out to gouge us?

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