Sunday, February 22, 2009

Speed. On Sale.

“Special promotions” are effective marketing tools companies utilize to lure consumers into ownership.

Read On:
I chuckle every time I receive a Comcast mailer for high-speed Internet. In today’s economy, everyone’s looking for quick ways to save. Sale! For a limited time, get High-Speed Internet for just $24.99 a month for 6 months*. Candidly it is the asterisk that amuses me. If you read the fine print, after the six-month promotional period to which you have subscribed, Comcast’s service charge increases to $41.95 to $59.95 depending on area and level of service. Comcast’s sale is officially over.

Reminds me of a principle outlined in Dan Ariely’s book Predictably Irrational ( In his chapter The High Price of Ownership, Ariely details how companies utilize “special promotions” to entice consumers into ownership. High probability once the offer expires, users will not discontinue their high-speed service and revert back to dial-up. Instead the emotions of ownership will cause people to rationalize spending the additional money for the Internet time savings they have enjoyed during the promotional period.

Clever marketing. Makes me wonder what people do with the time they saved by subscribing to high-speed Internet. Conversely, what they could do with the additional $16.96/month, $203.52/year before taxes if they did not subscribe to high-speed Internet. Personally, I would take the discretionary money and buy a dozen shares of Comcast stock at today’s market price.


*Take time to read the fine print.


  1. And, don't forget the trouble it takes to go backward after the promotion. I don't want to say people are generally lazy, but Comcast knows once set-up, it's a pain to go back.

    Like my other 'favorite' tactic w/magazine subscriptions. "First two issues free"* and the (*) is you're automatically billed after the two issues. But if you don't want to receive anymore, the consumer has to go through the trouble of notifying the magazine company. Again, people will pay instead of taking the time to do it.


  2. Wouldn't it be refreshing if the asterisk actually referred to something like: "What? You were expecting maybe a sly, detrimental change in our terms? Surprise! We just wanted to Thank You for being a loyal customer." Now THAT would be some "fine" print.