Tuesday 26 July 2011

Price Matching - Moral?

Price Matching. Just to be clear I understand this to be an offer by a retailer to sell an item at the lowest price a customer can find it elsewhere. It is an aggressive marketing ploy, if completely successful aiming at the elimination of all competitors. During the early phase the consumer benefits. He is king, and appears to call all the shots, driving down prices until the retailers creak under the strain. Great for him - until one retailer succeeds in out-muscling the others, perhaps putting them out of business in the process. From this point the boot is on the other foot, and over a period of time prices will rise, as the retailer dominates. This is sheer market economics in the raw, at its ugliest - dog eats dog.
I have been pondering the morality of this as it applies to the market in christian books sold by self proclaimed christian companies. Is it fitting that publishers, bookshops and online retailers employ Price Matching? But then, it is a difficult time as the recession bites and the waterhole is shrinking. Temptation abounds.
Sometimes it is consumers who provoke a price war. Last week we had someone ring up to ask "Do you do price matching?" She had located a book cheaply elsewhere and wondered if we could or would sell it for the same. Now we were not going to play the rival Supermarkets game. But was that a christian attitude for her to have? I freely confess that I myself shop around and look at all the options and deals on and offline when buying goods, so am I just being hypocritical here? However is it not one thing to set your stall out and sell at what you can afford (maximising customer service and other enrichments as well) thus creating healthy competition, and another to advertise Price Matching? I feel that oversteps the mark. Managing a Christian Bookshop, I want to earn a living, but I want others in the same field to as well. Otherwise Biblical principles regarding love to our neighbour are violated. Price Matching discredits christian retailing, and it is shameful for sober christian people to provoke it. Feedback wanted please!

1 comment:

rodlea said...

I would have to agree, shopping around for the best deal (whatever that means for you) is different than asking a suppler to lower its price. The best deal for you can be defined by your own standards though If your standards are purely financial then people will ask for price matching, but if they genuinely want a good service then they should expect to pay for it. This is were the temptation comes in for Christians in relation to buying from a Christian outlet, are they looking purely for their own worldly financial gain (in getting the best price) or are they prepared to pay the bit extra to keep the outlet surviving and furthering the Lords work??