The only thing people hate more than spending money is spending more money for the exact same products and services. Price hikes, regardless of their cause, are immensely unpopular with consumers, and it’s not hard to see why. Most people don’t have discretionary income to burn. So when the few luxuries they allow themselves go up in price, they really feel it.
Price hikes can happen for any number of reasons: disruption of supply channels, environmental disasters, or just plain greed. The products and services in the following list fall into all of the above categories. But whatever the reason, price increases have a way of annoying us to our very core. And, if companies aren’t careful, they can end up losing tons of business and dealing with more bad press than they ever dreamed possible.
Speaking of lost business and bad press…
Netflix recently announced a $1 price hike for new customers on their streaming and DVD packages. But that’s not why they make this list. In the Summer of 2011, the company announce what amounted to a 60% price hike for customers who wished to keep the streaming and DVD packages. The fallout was so bad that over the next 5 months, Netflix lost 800,000 subscribers and saw its stock drop nearly 40%. It took almost 2 years for the company to fully recover from the flub.
9. Whitney Houston’s Greatest Hits Album
Sony Music invited a controversial firestorm when, in the wake of the Whitney Houston’s untimely death, it raised the price of The Ultimate Collection (one of Houston’s greatest hits albums) by 60% in an effort to capitalize on the increase of purchases by fans looking to pay their respects to the singer.
8. Disneyland Tickets
Disneyland Park in Anaheim, CA is the single most popular tourist destination in the world. And they must know that because over the past 14 years, 1-day adult ticket prices have more than doubled, from $41 in 2000 to $92 today! Disney’s official justification is that price increases are necessary to maintain the type of quality experiences that guests have come to expect. But it’s hard to see it as anything other than a cash grab. They must be doing something right, though, because they break attendance records every year.
The price of limes has skyrocketed in recent months due mostly to the severe drought in the western parts of the United States. But there’s an interesting subplot here as well. Mexican drug cartels, perhaps sensing an opportunity to gouge citrus-craving people, have started strong-arming lime farmers south of the border, stealing their crops and selling them to distributors at exorbitant costs.
No one mails letters anymore. Ever since email became the dominant form of epistolary communication, the United States Postal Service has been in a tailspin. Add to that private carriers like UPS and FedEx cannibalizing the Postal Service’s business, and the government was left with no choice but to significantly increase the cost of stamps. The end result being that the only people left who still send handwritten letters are the very ones getting screwed because the rest of us have jumped ship to the internet.
5. Amazon Prime
Prime is the wildly popular subscription service from Amazon that gives users free 2-day shipping on tens of thousands of products, as well as unlimited access to the company’s Netflix-like streaming video service. Since its inception, the service cost users $79 a year; however, recently Amazon announced that it was going to increase the cost of Prime to $99 a year, and users predictably lost their collective minds. It’s too soon to tell how bad this increase has hurt Amazon’s bottom line, but early reaction from users indicates that a healthy percentage of them will not be renewing their subscriptions.
Say what you will about Netflix, limes, and Disneyland, they’re all expendable in one way or another. Bacon, on the other hand, is practically a staple of the American diet and God’s gift to food lovers everywhere. Unfortunately, the price of bacon (and pork products, in general) has been creeping upwards of late. A porcine virus known as PEDV has been wreaking havoc on American hog farms, killing up to 20% of newborn piglets and causing proportionate increases in the cost of pork products.
For some foodies, this spicy Asian condiment is as difficult to pronounce as it is to live without, but that could become a reality if the residents of the Southern California city of Irwindale have their way. A large Sriracha-producing factory in the city has drawn the ire of locals on account of the ubiquitous, eye-burning fumes which emanate from the factory and pervade the surrounding community. The controversy has already slowed production of the sauce, which in turn has raised prices. If a truce can’t be reached between the factory and the community, production may cease altogether and fans of the spicy sauce may have to look elsewhere to get their fix.
In late 2013, McDonald’s quietly scrapped their popular “Dollar Menu” and replaced it with the stupidly named “Dollar Menu and More.” Patrons may not have noticed the name change, but they were certainly aware that their favorite foods were suddenly significantly more expensive (up to 30% more expensive, in some cases). People complained, but McDonald’s shrugged it off, saying the increases were necessary to cover the higher cost of ingredients. McDonald’s knows they have the upper hand, too, considering the alternative is for us to eat at Burger King.
1. Super Bowl Tickets
Super Bowl tickets get more expensive every single year. This isn’t news. However, Super Bowl XLVIII in 2014 saw the face value of its most expensive tickets increase to $2600! To put that in perspective, the previous SuperBowl’s most expensive seats cost “only” $1250. To complete the slap in the face that the last sentence started, the most expensive tickets for the very first SuperBowl were only $12! That’s almost a 22,000% price increase over the life of the event.