Have you ever caved into buying an item at a higher price because you didn’t want to be perceived as cheap? Last weekend, I did just that at the Santa Monica Pier, a major tourist attraction in California.
My family and I headed to Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf to grab drinks. At the front of the line I was faced with a major decision.
“Hi. I’m getting three regular sized drinks – a latte, a Mocha Ice Blended with whip, and hmm…where is it?” I asked.
“What drink?” responded the barista, looking at the menu.
“Oh there it is! My usual Black Forrest, please. Wow, it’s $5.75. Did your prices go up?”
“No, we’re at the pier. Your total is $18.03.”
I grinned nervously and turned to my dad, who I could tell disapproved of me forking over almost $20 for coffee.
“That’s not what we usually pay,” he whispered.
“We’re at the pier,” I heard myself respond as I handed over my debit card.
I didn’t notice the prices till I was ordering, and felt uneasy about canceling my order and walking out. What was I supposed to say? I was being charged 50% more just because we were in a tourist area. Should I have asked for a discount?
I still can’t left it go. At the time, I felt as if everyone was watching me because I was holding up the line. I didn’t want them to think I was a big cheap-o or worse, that I couldn’t afford the drinks! I also didn’t want to mortify my teenage sister like Julia embarrassed her friends when she haggled for cupcakes. So I paid up. Was I wrong to cave in?
I know there are a couple of things I could have done differently. I could have used my Swagbucks account to get a gift card to Starbucks and skipped the overpriced temptation at the pier. Alas, I failed to plan ahead.
What would you have done: haggled, walked out, or paid up?