I stopped by Walgreens on the way home the other day to pick up some new mascara. There was a buy-one-get-one-for-half-off sale on the brand I was getting — spiff!
Only they only have one tube of the right shade of the mascara I use — foo!
So I left without buying any.
On the way home, I started thinking about how this is an example of the kind of irrationality that makes economists crazy. Compare the situations:
Situation A: The store is not having a sale. I walk in, give them $7.99, and walk out with a new tube of mascara.
Situation B: The store is having a buy-one-get-one-for-half-off sale, but only has one tube of the mascara I want. I walk in, give them $7.99, and walk out with a new tube of mascara.
Those are functionally the same situation, right? I give them $7.99 and get one tube of mascara. But knowing that there could be a Situation C (the store is having a sale; I give them $11.99 and walk out with two new tubes of mascara) made me cranky.
Yesterday I went to RiteAid. They were having a buy-one-get-one-free sale on my brand. Result, Situation D: I walk in, give them $7.99, and walk out with two new tubes of mascara.
Hah. The ghosts of my Yankee forebears are giving each other high fives in the background. Or they would be, if Yankee Puritan sorts did that kind of thing.