Monday, October 4, 2010

What's Your Tipping Point

Over the last month I have been contemplating a purchase, one that is more $$$ than what I consider as trivial but less $$$ than what I consider a major purchase. So I researched and agonized and finally decided on the size and manufacturer I wanted. Then it was time to select a vendor, since it was an item not carried locally.

I narrowed it down to two vendors, one that I had used and liked before, W, and one that many people swore by and many swore at, Y. Y offered the object of my purchasing frenzy for about 6% less than W. But then I looked at the shipping and handling costs - W's was less that $1, Y's greater than $10. Even with the shipping and handling added in, Y was marginally cheaper than W.

I waffled back and for for a moment, teetering on the slippery slope of deciding on Y due to a less than 1% difference in total cost. I fairly quickly decided to go with W because of my past experiences with them.

In physics, a tipping point is the point at which an object is displaced from a state of stable equilibrium into a new, different state. Like adding another coin to this stack:

 In those terms, the difference in price (including shipping) between W and Y was not enough to exceed my experience based tipping point. I really haven't been able to figure out what my tipping point is for this particular transaction, but I suspect that if Y were another 3% cheaper, I would have slid down the slippery slope and tried them.

So what is your tipping point. When does your loyalty due to past experience give way to financial differences? Inquiring minds want to know.


  1. The Mrs. goes for price exclusively. Depending on the purchase, 6% or more in savings would make me want to buy.

  2. I'm a lot more comfortable dealing with people I've had experience with so 5% savings probably wouldn't sway me.

    More often I just really want to be able to touch whatever it is so I end up going somewhere and paying a bit more just so I get to touch it before buying. Yes, I'm one keeping the bricks & mortar businesses going.


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