Non-obvious pricing

I have always wondered why airlines reserve the right to refuse transferring you from B to A when you paid them for transfer from A to B but did not use their services. They might fear that you not only paid them (for A to B), but that you also pay a competitor to actually transfer you from A to B. So, they provide incentives (=penalties) for you to adjust your behaviour to their needs.

Recently, I needed to get back from the airport to Gjøvik. Since Timekspressen had improved their balance sheets by removing the 23:05 service from Gardermoen on weekdays, I took the comfortable NSB train to Moelv and entered a taxi there. Gjøvik Taxi has drivers that know all places in Gjøvik, so after arriving in Moelv you just give them an address in Gjøvik, relax, and wake up when you are home. Gjøvik Taxi also advertises their flat fees for several trips, like getting to the airport or – getting from Gjøvik to Moelv. Taking a taxi from Gjøvik to Moelv costs kr. 500. This is less expensive than taking Moelv Taxi from Moelv to Gjøvik: they charge you more than kr. 700 and you have to explain in detail where to go in Gjøvik. Gjøvik Taxi drivers even ask you: „Oh, by the way, are you aware of our flat fees to certain destinations?“

When I called Gjøvik Taxi that night, they told me that they could pick me up at Moelv, but I would need to pay them for both a trip from Gjøvik to Moelv (getting an empty car to Moelv), and then for the flat fee from Moelv to Gjøvik. I asked specifically if I would then pay them effectively twice for the trip, and they confirmed. They even suggested that I call Moelv Taxi for a trip in that direction. Needless to say, Moelv Taxi was happy to provide the transfer. Not much happening in Moelv on a Tuesday night, I guess.

I wonder what the motivation is behind Gjøvik Taxi’s pricing. If I take a taxi from Gjøvik to Moelv, the distance travelled is the same. Maybe they can pick up somebody on the way back from Moelv to Gjøvik and thereby reduce costs. But that also works in the other direction. They could drop somebody close to Moelv and then pick me up. There is no obvious difference in the costs or potential revenue involved in the trip, whether it is to or from Moelv. If the argument is that they have the 25 minutes it takes to get from Gjøvik to Moelv to find another customer for the car on the return trip, then they could just say that you have to call them half an hour in advance if you want to get a trip from Moelv to Gjøvik, allowing them to find an available car close to Moelv.

Strange. But I am not going to force companies to earn money by doing business with me.

About Author: Hanno Langweg

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