Wednesday, January 28, 2009

About Free Stuff

Four things:

1. I'm surprised how many people don't know about
The Freecycle Network. It's sort of like craigslist for free stuff.

2. Here's a great
David Foster Wallace anecdote, from his short story collection "Brief Interviews with Hideous Men", about the irrational aggravation involved in trying to give things away for free (thanks, David Agraz).

3. As a follow-up to that anecdote, my dad ran an auto parts store, where he tried offering a deal where buying $20 worth of merchandise got you a free watch. Everyone ignored the offer. But then he tweaked it: if you bought $20 worth of merchandise, you could get a watch for only five dollars! All of a sudden, customers started loading up their carts and angling to get the $5 watch. A free watch is value-less.

4. Therapists have long pointed to this same quirk in human nature to justify their high charges. Patients won't take their treatment seriously, they claim, if they're not paying near the pain point. It's clearly self-serving, though there's some truth in it. On the other hand, it's also dangerously close to admitting that therapy success derives from placebo effect!

1 comment:

Chuck Westbrook said...

I was a freecycle user for a while, but I also enjoy the free section of Craigslist.

I was able to get rid of an old TV in just a couple of hours this past weekend.

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