Friday, April 28, 2006

$5

Okay, I'm done talking about the Revolution. Except to say that they lost my pre-order. Now, on to other, greener pastures. Flat, green pastures with Lincoln stamped on them.

Here at WPI, there are "meal plans" for people who are still students. One of the more popular "meal plans" is the "VIP" meal plan.

When you spend a meal, you get into "DAKA". Okay, so it hasn't been DAKA for most of a decade. But you get into the cafeteria. There, you may eat any of the stunningly average food they produce in any quantity.

With the VIP meal, you may also spend meals at a more classic area which charges actual money for actual food - Burger King, pizza, sandwiches, salads, etc. A VIP meal is worth $5, despite the fact that, calculated out, you're actually paying closer to $9.50 per meal to get the plan. The students spending a meal spend $5, even if they only buy $1.30 of food. Meaning the food guys get, free, the excess cash.

In addition, students have "points", which are essentially cash on the card, except they can only be spent on food.

So, if you were the pricing guru of this money-charging area, what would you do?

Is your first instinct to make your meals come in cleanly at $5?

Yes? Bad monkey! You're not nearly sleazy enough to work for this kind of company.

Your instinct should be to price everything so that it adds up to just over $5.

Think about it. Either the student pays you the extra cash out of points (extra money for you!) or the student holds back and only buys $3.50 of stuff. In which case you get a literally free $1.50.

So, you price the most popular goods at $2.75.

How incredibly clever!

How incredibly sleazy!

Side note: As far as I know, any meals and points which aren't spent on food go to WPI. WPI doesn't run the food service: it's Chartwells. This means that, if you spend a VIP meal on non-cafeteria food, WPI gains to the tune of $4.50.

So, WPI screws Chartwells, Chartwells screws the students, and, well, WPI also screws the students. A big, happy family.

1 comment:

Patrick Dugan said...

Thats shameful, its funny how academica tends toward the cluster-fuck isn't it?

My school gets crazy finances from screwing brillaint grad students, they'll fund their patents and start-ups, give them only 5% of their revenue for the fist seven years, eventually letting them buy their company out from the university. They lure these guys in through football, which they fund from screwing the brillain. And round and round it goes.

It does however, provide for one very fair meal plan, 200 a semester for 80 meals at a dining hall that offers all you can eat food of suprising quality, with a range from vegan to deli to mexican to chinease. Its how I manage to eat without spending too much money.