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Price is such a subjective thing when you're a foodie...

Posted by DK 
Price is such a subjective thing when you're a foodie...
November 26, 2016 09:39PM
Food is a thing that I happily spend money on and I just wanted to share a moment that made me chuckle about people's priorities and how it's all relative.

Yesterday I treated my friend to a nice dinner out to celebrate an achievement of hers. We had three courses as well as drinks and coffee and the bill came to $132.00 after the Entertainment Book discount, which I thought was really reasonable. When we looked at the menu she was trying to order the cheapest things on the menu but I told her not to be silly and to order what she wanted. She saw how much the bill was and was horrified and kept asking if I was sure I could afford it and offering to pay half.

My friend is a very stubborn person and she commented on the expense again afterwards because she was worried about my finances so I finally asked her how much she spent on a haircut every six weeks. THAT shut her up completely because she replied,"$110" very sheepishly. She isn't a vain or superficial person but I knew that having her hair cut at the same upmarket hairdresser by the senior stylist was one thing she was religious about. I pointed out that to me $110 was a horrific price for a haircut and that two of us had just had a three-course meal with very good food and service for a similar price. Our meal utilised the talents and experience of a whole brigade of chefs, front-of-house staff, bar staff at a prime Auckland spot with a view of the water from our table as opposed to a half-hour haircut with one stylist.

Incidentally, my haircut question is the one I always use if someone grumbles about the price of something that I consider good value. Even if they themselves don't pay $100+ dollars to get their hair done, they know of someone who does. Either that or I ask how much their lawyer charges per hour. I find it especially useful if a client grumbles about the price of veterinary care (I work at a vet clinic). I remember one lady who admitted she spent $300 on her cut and colour and I pointed out that the surgery on her pet, which was a similar price, utilised a vet who had trained for 5+ years, at least two vet nurses who had trained for 2 years, a sterile surgical theatre, fully sterile surgical equipment, fluids, a myriad of drugs, expensive suture material and other disposables, hospitalisation, feeding her pet after post-op recovery, a free follow-up wound check then stitch removal. That definitely put things into perspective for her.
Re: Price is such a subjective thing when you're a foodie...
November 26, 2016 09:50PM
Well put DK.
Re: Price is such a subjective thing when you're a foodie...
November 26, 2016 11:20PM
Very well put DK.

I guess we all prioritise different things in life with regard to spending.
I did chuckle at your vet analogy as it was a particularly sensitive issue to me a few months ago.
One of our 17 year old cats went to have a dental check as she was struggling to eat her biscuits. 2 extractions and $650 later she came home again, with me feeling slightly ill at the cost of it. Yet yes I do spend quite an amount per year with hair cut and colours at a upmarket salon. smiling smiley
Re: Price is such a subjective thing when you're a foodie...
November 26, 2016 11:36PM
I think $132 for dinner and drinks for two is extremely reasonable as long as the food and service were good. Where I get tetchy about restaurant costs is when the food and/or service are sub-standard, and sadly that seems increasingly to be the case. We eat out less and less for that reason.

Helen, we've just had a similarly pricey cat experience: 16 year old cat needing xrays and blood tests plus overnight at the vet, followed by a diagnosis of hyperthyroidism. $750 so far, goodness knows how much for the treatment to follow. I think about how many plants we could buy for that....
Re: Price is such a subjective thing when you're a foodie...
November 27, 2016 02:10AM
We've got a cat with hyperthyroidism, the medication costs about $40/month, or there is an option to irradiate the thyroid, but in an older cat I'm not sure it's worth it, so we've gone with pills for the time being. Didn't cost us anywhere near that much to get her diagnosed though, a physical exam, and some blood tests, I think all up about $250. I never begrudge how much we pay our vets, people always think it should cost the same as a doctor, but forget the doctor also claims subsidies for your care, and most of our medications are also subsidised.
Re: Price is such a subjective thing when you're a foodie...
November 27, 2016 04:01AM
Thanks for that background information Griz. The cat was displaying some peculiar symptoms (she's a peculiar cat) and the diagnosis of hyperthyroidism was really just incidental. We're giving her Methimazole ointment treatment for a month to see how she goes, and that cost $88 for the month. No idea if she'll be suitable for the irradiation treatment, nor how much it might cost. I don't begrudge paying the vet fees at all, but the associated pharmaceuticals always seem to carry a huge profit margin.
Re: Price is such a subjective thing when you're a foodie...
December 01, 2016 02:26AM
The reason that veterinary pharmaceuticals are so expensive is that:
1) They're not subsidised like human drugs in NZ. If anyone has ever had to pay or heard about human medication in the US, they'll know how much drugs actually cost.
2) Animal drugs are expensive partly because the licencing process for animal drugs jn NZ is expensive. All animal drugs have to be licenced mainly because of NZ's meat-producing industry so every drug, even if only intended for use on pets, has to go through testing for withholding periods etc.
3) The market for animal drugs is much smaller than human drugs.
4) As of about 12 years ago vets are no longer allowed to dispense human drugs (cheaper) if there is an animal version available.
5) Vets have to maintain decent levels of stock of these expensive drugs so that they can be dispensed or used as soon as they're needed. Because of this the drugs can sometimes expire and then need to be discarded, which increases the cost. In an ideal world vets would only order drugs when needed but that is unrealistic when treating a sick animal and also unfair to the owners if they constantly had to come back in to pick up medication after bringing their animal in.

The markup most vets put on drugs is no more than that put on most things. In fact, vets reduce their standard markup on many drugs in order to make them more reasonable for clients.

I once heard someone on a talkback show bemoaning the cost of health care for their pet and they ended by saying,"Why do vets charge so much? Don't they love animals?" Yes, we in the industry do love animals but we have to make a profit, just like any other business. There is so much we do that we don't charge for like attending to injured wildlife, giving comprehensive advice on the phone, administering medication if the owner is having difficulty, counselling grieving owners; I'm sure doctors and their staff would never do things like that for their patients for no charge. In my career I have lost count of the number of times that veterinary staff have driven animals to Bird Rescue or the SPCA, taken home wildlife to care for and then driven out to appropriate places to release said wildlife, posted ads and done letterbox flyers for found pets, stayed late after a euthanasia because the grieving owner needed more time to be with their pet (I'm talking 2-3 hours after closing) dropped off pet food or medications to infirm clients and many other things that the general public don't see, all at the staff member or the clinic's own cost.

Yes, $600 odd dollars is a sizeable amount but again I ask, how much does your lawyer charge per hour? Would they ever do anything for free for you?

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/01/2016 02:27AM by DK.
Re: Price is such a subjective thing when you're a foodie...
December 01, 2016 02:56AM
We never begrudged any vet costs when we had our cat, who was with us for 16 years. We are well aware that there is no taxpayer subsidy for animal care.
We certainly do have our own priorities of how we spend our money.
Re: Price is such a subjective thing when you're a foodie...
December 01, 2016 03:15AM
DK I agree, but I think that can apply across any industry.

I am a self employed Travel Broker, and had a prospective customer contact me last week regarding airfares to Europe. Before he even told me what he wanted, he mentioned that he had seen an ad on TV by Webjet, and Travel Agents did not have access to the fares they had (which actually is a very untrue statement). I actually wondered why he bothered ringing when Webjet was the bees knees in his eyes. He then rang me again the next morning and this time asked me for my price and I was $5 more than his beloved Webjet the night before (this can happen due to currency exchange rates which adjust each day). So he said he would go with them. Which is fair enough - but he then had the gall to ring me as he was booking via Webjet to ask me if he was clicking on the right things, questions about their Travel Insurance underwriter... and I very nicely informed him that I had no idea of how their site works, who they use - and maybe he should ring them if he was so unsure (that was said tongue in cheek as they are an online provider only).

And with the current Lufthansa pilots' strike that has been ongoing for a good week now. I booked a fare ex Romania for family here. She had to be on the exact same flights as other Romanians (she did not know them but it was through the community here that family touched base). I had to rebook her tickets on to alternate flights ex Bucharest - whilst still matching the same flights that the other 4 people had, which was booked and changed elsewhere - no idea who with. This took practically all of my time last Friday. Well my lady checked in okay for her flight, and the other four had problems as their tickets had not been changed correctly - and they were delayed at check in, whilst my lady went straight through with no hiccups.

You pay for what you get - and when customers quibble over a paltry difference, I just shrug my shoulders and think well if things go to cactus I have the experience to fix it. And I am available practically 24/7 to my customers - unless I am in the middle of a deep snore fest smiling smiley

Lot of waffling here sorry and I have gone off topic I think.. but it irks me. I don't try and get my hairdresser to undercut her prices to match what Just Cuts do? Or my nail lady to match the mall nail bars. Off my soap box now - or this will become a novel worthy of Tolstoy proportions smiling smiley
Re: Price is such a subjective thing when you're a foodie...
December 01, 2016 03:49AM
DK thank you very much for that background on the pricing of vet pharmaceuticals. It makes sense of the charges.

As for comparisons, I haven't been to a hairdresser in about forty years so I don't have that handy benchmark of extravagance... My only extravagance was CDs and books, but with the advent of Kindle and Spotify I don't have those benchmarks either.

The example of lawyers' charges is a good one. I worked in law for many years and I'm well aware that our charges sometimes came as a huge shock to clients. In any profession it's easy to become complacent about chargeout rates and to forget what burden they can place on the unwitting client. At the same time there are always costs of practice that are not immediately obvious, equipment, premises, compliance costs.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/01/2016 03:57AM by TPANDAV.
Re: Price is such a subjective thing when you're a foodie...
December 09, 2016 12:16AM
Irene, you are preaching to the converted here :-). I share your pain because I used to be a travel agent before I was a vet nurse! I cringe every time I see ads about booking airfares and travel yourself and the implication that all a travel agent does is what you could do yourself. Ha! 

Yes,sorry, I went off topic too but it's great to hear about others experiences and opinions.
Re: Price is such a subjective thing when you're a foodie...
December 13, 2016 04:03AM
I'm also a "spend a lot of money on my haircut" and an OK to spend money on good food kind of person but I find it horrifying when people spend money on cars as cars don't make me feel happy. As long as I can get from A to B I dont car what I drive, however my partner loves cars and would happily spend 100,000k on one if he could!!
Re: Price is such a subjective thing when you're a foodie...
December 14, 2016 05:20AM
I am like you Ingrid - my haircuts probably are on the expensive side, and I don't begrudge it.

However I drive a 10 year old Swift and love itsmiling smiley
Re: Price is such a subjective thing when you're a foodie...
December 20, 2016 09:42PM
I spend so much more on food than I do on my hair - I probably get it cut twice a year and just walk in to any random place off the street, usually just cuts type of place. If I dye my hair, I do it myself - chocolate brown.
People clearly value things differently, even the TV thing. Many men want the LARGE, surround sound TV set up whilst Im more than happy with a standard size. A friend did gift me a 55 inch Tv recently. I must admit, I do love it however before experiencing it, I was more than happy with my 25 inch.
Re: Price is such a subjective thing when you're a foodie...
December 21, 2016 12:15AM
I spend a lot more on food than hair too, my hair is cut by a friend and I usually colour it myself, sometimes I take the box and she does it for me. I absolutely refuse to have a monstrosity TV in our house, hate going to houses where the TV screen is dominating the room. Pet hate is when I visit people and they sit there watching the TV while you are there, so rude! (Speaking as someone who does home visits as part of the job).
Re: Price is such a subjective thing when you're a foodie...
December 21, 2016 06:54AM
The funny thing is, it seems Im really the only one who watches it and it doesnt go on till everyone is asleep.

The kids want to choose what they want to watch via youtube - my 5 year old watches all sorts of educational things via youtube for kids, even cute construction songs that I find myself humming to during the day.

My 9 year old watchers scooter and minecraft kids who basically make money - A LOT OF MONEY, posting videos daily.

Its a different world.

Ha Ha Funny that food has done full circle though and we are back to fresh, healthy, REAL food.

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