Monday, August 31, 2009

People Don't Understand Economic Realities

Again this weekend the events of real life and the events in Azeroth coincided in an interesting way. As you know, we are preparing to move to a new house IRL. So we were having our moving/garage sale this weekend. So things are going well, probably have $100 worth of stuff sold in the first couple hours but not much of the bigger furniture-type stuff. Then up comes this absolute beater of a car, a Toyota Corolla that looks like it's on its last legs. Well anyways, out comes Ruru, this relatively flamboyant lady. Having been to my fair share of garage sales and Rink's, I've seen this kind of wheeler and dealer before. So she starts gathering up or pointing out a ton of things she wants to purchase. This includes a pile of dishes, clothes, and knickknacks, as well as both desktop computer sets (one was my mother-in-law's), a portable keyboard, a couple of TV stands, and our tube-TV. Well I gather everything up into one spot and price it all out, and it comes to $245. So I tell her this and I offer her the lot for $175 since she's buying so much.

But you see, she's a wheeler and dealer. As she went from item to item, she's calling out prices she wants to pay, never what is listed. I never told her anything other than we'll put it in the pile and make you a deal at the end. So she wants to go through item by item instead. I just want her to either buy or leave, but I go through it item by item. Well some things drop out as I'm not willing to budge on the prices on the TV or the mother-in-law's computer set. She has to get a "deal" apparently even though we priced things so well that we got very few items that sold below what was marked. After doing it her way and battling on an item by item basis, the grand total sums to $151. So I show her the list, say it's $150 for this pile here (having removed the TV and the second computer), and she accepts. Then we play the Lego-land game of get everything to fit in this Corolla. Meanwhile she's being flaboyant and annoying to other customers, etc. Anyways, got her out of there and was happy to make a good sale. She got a lot, we got rid of stuff we did not want anymore and got some money for the new house stuff, done deal. Not so fast...

At least 45 minutes, maybe an hour later, here comes the Corolla again and sadly in my driveway because the other two sets of customers at this time had parked on the street. Out comes Ruru in a rage, demanding her money back because we "overcharged" her. I let her come up to the garage where I was sitting and she pushes this list in my face of the items she bought and the "supposed prices." Not shockingly, these prices were her offers to me on each item, not the haggled or agreed-upon price. Furthermore, there were a couple of items missing off the list. Her car is empty at this point. I tell her, hey you left with the carload of stuff at the agreed-upon price, it's done and over. She insists on going through the list and her argument, which I let her do before telling her that she's wrong. She starts accosting the mother-in-law (who is holding Paige) and Kelley at this point. So I tell them to get inside, tell Ruru she is dealing with me and me alone and she needs to stop talking to everyone else immediately. I explain that she is not welcome on our property anymore and she needs to leave my driveway immediately.

Well she wouldn't, so we each called the police. All this time Ruru is sitting on the hood of her car making comments about how shameful I should be for stealing money, etc. So we wait for 20 minutes for the cop (meanwhile all the poor customers who were there at the time have retreated thanks to psycho's tirade), and she's loudly muttering how she knows the law and she's welcome to be at a garage sale and that the law protects her too...I'm pissed but stifling laughter because she has no idea just how much law I actually know and how much she thinks she knows more than me.

The cop gets there and of course she's all over him with her story first. I don't care as I've filed police reports before and I know eventually he'll come on over to me. I tell the cop the facts, he tells her that it's a finished contract when she left with the goods, and that she needs to leave. He also explains that she could take me to small claims court, but he's not making any decisions on the matter. He actually has to shout her out of our driveway as she keeps on rattling off at the mouth, she pulls out and talks to him for probably 3 minutes from car-to-car. When the officer pulled past the driveway he told us to call him if she comes back, as she would be arrested on sight for entering our property again. So the scammer/tresspasser removed, we finished up the last couple hours of our garage sale. Drama at a garage's fantastic.

Now I tell that story not only because it's a good story, but because it got me thinking about how people just don't understand reality, whether it be about law or economics. I tell you to get off my property, and you stay, you are by definition a trespasser and can be removed. You come to a garage sale, you understand that it's buyer beware and whatever you leave with is then yours, no warranties, no refunds. I know this lady was likely just a scam-artist, but the sheer fact is that she acted like she did not understand the economic realities of the finished contract and of garage saling in general.

Later on that night, I'm on my bankalt for a couple of minutes when I get that first official whisper: "can you stop undercutting on the netherweave bags?" Seems like watching the weekly moron entries of Gevlon, this happens eventualy to most all of us engaged in the AH market regularly. Whether they want to make a cartel of price-fixing or just want to complain, these people do not understand the economic realities. I undercut your listings because every time I put bags up, you are asking for 10 or 11 gold and quite frankly, I make a ton of money selling at 9 gold 65 silver. So every time I put up bags, it's "undercutting" someone trying to make more profit. If I did not do it, someone else would even if on a smaller scale. And you are always welcome to undercut me back, as I typically still sell my inventory every time even when I've been undercut. There's no reason to try and change the reality. Or in the words of one of my favorite radio hosts...

It is what it is.

So next time you go dinking around the auction house or a garage sale, just remember the common sense economics your parents hopefully instilled in you at some point. There's no reason to make everyone's life miserable by making a fuss over something that cannot change. We can all direct our focus at Blizzard developers and bang on the door until the bring spellpower back, for example. That is something you might be able to change.


  1. Great story, lucky you have a wife who listens and lets you handle it. Mine would have just done what it took to get her out of the way. Both strategies have their benefit I think, she wouldn't have driven off so many customers, but she would have taken you for a ride. Anyway I have just recently started a business of my own on the AH selling feasts. I don't time the market, I just price accordingly. The market there has its ups and downs. The days you would think you would sell more you don't. I think I figured it out though.
    I have made several thousand gold in a few weeks, at the cost of one hour a day spent fishing in a potentially contested area. There may be faster ways to make money, but I am having so much more fun with this than jousting I can't even tell you. As an engineer it feels good to have a marketable product. It makes common sense economics, the non-cutting edge people farm the easy Raids during the week after the reset for badges for progression runs during the weekend. But it seemed odd at first.
    Hopefully Blizz will keep Spellpower, I mean all casters can use it. They want to simplify the stats, how much more can that be simplified?
    "So long and thanks for all the fish." - Translated from the original dolphin

  2. Feasts is a good idea, maybe another one I can incorporate because I love fishing even in WG and it's a consumable that remains in demand throughout the expansion.

    I may not always agree with Gevlon's posts, but he makes some great points and I'm not surprised that I too now have to put up with "moron of the week" type messages. Ahh well, I can always /ignore in Azeroth, if only we could do that IRL.