It Costs You, Too . . .

Over the past couple years, those who have been making computer components have been jacking up the prices on high-end equipment.

Now it seems that those selling the equipment are getting into the act.

We’ve seen the spectacle of resellers increasing the price of Opterons right after AMD decreased it.

Now we see anybody (and there’s more than a few) selling a 7800GTX 512 today for $50 to $100 more than the hardly bargain-basement $649 MSRP.

Is this price gouging? Of course it is. Yes, you can talk about supply and demand and the market and the glories of capitalism all you want, but all that does is make it legal price gouging.

Granted, trying to make an extra $50-100 from a processor or video card is hardly like taking food out of the mouths of babies, and it’s hard to resist taking a sucker when the sucker is effectively saying either, “I’m too excited to think!” or “The more I pay you, the more superior I feel over the other riff-raff.”

What’s important to understand is that if you want to point fingers, the fingers need to be pointed not at those charging these prices, but those paying them.

What’s also important to understand is that some dope willing to spend $100 more than retail isn’t just wasting his money, he’s also wasting yours.

How so? Every purchase sends a message, and the message Mr. Diarrhea-of-the-Wallet has been sending the last couple years is that people will pay a lot more for equipment.

And that doesn’t just affect the top-end price; it has an effect on what others get for their money, too. The $150-200 video card is relatively a lot worse than it was a few years back. What used to be the normal round of pricing cutting gets delayed, or doesn’t happen at all these days.

These are subtle changes, so subtle that most don’t notice, but this is just another phase in turning gaming into a luxury hobby with luxury pricing. After all, the Mercedes and Lexus dealers make more than the Chevy guy.

One might dismiss the Opteron and 512 GTX pricing as flukes, except that some big resellers seem to be charging less-than-bottom-dollar whenever they can these days.

I could be wrong, but I’m afraid they, too, may start cashing in on overenthusiasm, and eventually they’ll be making more money off you, too.

What to do? It’s about as realistic to expect profit-seeking companies to refrain from making extra profits as it is expecting sharks not to take advantage of raw meat chucked into the water. They can’t help it; it’s in their nature.

If you don’t want the sharks to get into a feeding frenzy, don’t get rid of the sharks, get rid of the raw meat.

How do you do that? Well, you at least try to do that by calling the raw meat what it is, and making fun of it. In other words, peer pressure.

In other words, there will be much less price gouging is people simply curb their enthusiasm, and if some can’t, others should help them out.

The way you do that is not let people buy social status. To a large degree, that’s why people do it to begin with, to hear others say, “Wow, I wish I could get that.” If those who do this stopped getting “Oohs” and “Aahs,” and started getting, “You fool” or “Why don’t you try to learn how to play the game?” I think that would greatly reduce this problem.

Even if you think it’s reasonable to pay a lot for a video card, it surely is excessive to pay a lot more than the suggested retail price for something.

You might be able to afford paying $10 for a cup of coffee at Starbucks, but that doesn’t mean you ought to.


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