We’ve all been grappling with inflation. Prices are rising by too much too soon which means our money is worth less with each passing year. Not totally worthless, though! Not yet anyway. And companies obviously aren’t just gonna sit around as they watch their precious profits pass in front of them.
Some have straight out raised their prices while others tricked us by keeping the price the same but have decided to shrink the product instead – meet shrinkflation! You’ve probably seen this and I bet your fave chocolate bar is smaller than it used to be. Course this doesn’t quite work out for services.
But there’s something that might just be even worse than shrinking chocolate bars and more expensive stuff: skimpflation. Don’t laugh, it’s an actual thing (as well as an actual word!). This is when the quality just goes down the drain. It’s frustrating and ends up costing us in the long-run.
Let’s find out what really makes companies resort to skimpflation!
When input costs rise like they’re doing now (this is anything from wages to gas) companies have two options: they can either pass on these higher costs to us lot or they can ‘absorb’ them which basically means they’ll have to cut some costs somewhere else to bring the end price down.
Now, not every company has the luxury of raising prices without turning away too many customers, apart from luxury goods’ companies themselves! Oh and tech juggernauts (among a handful of other industries). Take Google and Microsoft whose service literally everyone uses which means they can get away with raising prices. Or think of Slack. What a pain to get rid of that all because it’s getting too expensive! So their customers will keep using their now-more-expensive services. There aren’t any alternatives, really!
So, companies that can’t raise their prices without turning away too many of its precious companies resort to something that’s a little nastier than the inflation that’s going on (if that’s at all possible) and that’s skimpflation.
This weirdly annoying derivative of inflation is that instead of rising their prices, companies cut back on their quality instead. In other words, they can’t exactly raise prices so when you buy something and the quality of it (or the service you receive) quite frankly sucks you’ll know you’ve come face-to-face with the devil itself!
This is what’s behind the overall quality downgrade
Skimpflation is a general feeling of things getting worse. Way worse. But it’s more than a feeling! It’s slowly creeping into our reality. Take clothes, for instance. While clothes don’t feel like they used to, clothes also don’t last like they used to! And yes, clothing may not have experienced 10% inflation (in the UK, clothing prices have gone up by 6% this year, so less than the CPI figure), the quality is getting worse.
My knitted clothes don’t last half as long as they used to. Take a new uniqlo jumper that I’ve worn a handful of times, I’m finding it already has bobbles on it making it look old when it most definitely is not. Argh! Just charge me more and make it last. PLEASE. There’s nothing more frustrating than having to replace slightly-less-than-new things with new things. What a waste of money.
It’s not just clothes, though. It’s literally everything else. Take travel, starting with airlines. Gosh I bet you and I could go on for hours about this! You pay for a service but what you get (or not) is worlds apart. Delayed flights and cancelled flights are pretty much the norm. I’m going away this winter and I’m honestly not getting my hopes up. I’m expecting a 30-40% chance of my flight being cancelled or severely delayed. That’s just what travelling has become like these days!
My friend had booked to go to Venice (the day our Queen passed away actually so misery was all-round) only to find herself lumbered with a 1.5hr delay and to then find that after all that, her flight had been cancelled. No one to talk to, no one to arrange a refund with. Her service was dreadful and trust me, her story isn’t the first nor the last. Companies are skimping and airlines are surely milking the system.
We’re not getting what we pay for!
What on earth is that about?! Skimpflation’s your answer, I’m afraid. Oh, and the fact that airlines have poorly managed themselves during all this. They haven’t raised their prices enough (if at all) to help ease some of the pressure they’ve been facing during covid so it resulted in a total mess at the airports. That’s still very much ongoing. And don’t even think of checking in your cases and you most likely won’t get them out at the other end!
But it’s not just airlines. It’s those terrible trains too. Last week I took a cross-country train from London to Edinburgh and what should have taken 4 hrs 18 mins (still long!) ended up taking a cool 6 hrs 24 mins. There was a delay both at the station and on the track. It was a nightmare. The train stopped due to a signal failure and we were idle for well over an hour. Disaster.
Unlike the airlines, at least you can sort out a refund! But prices are still stupidly expensive for this sort of travel so anything than pristine service is them taking the mick. But obviously, like much of the sector, they’re horribly understaffed. So this is what happens!
It doesn’t stop there…
But skimpflation doesn’t end there. It manages to weave its way into other areas. Think of your stuff taking way longer to arrive. 3-5 working days, yeah right. More like 3-5 working months! Getting refunds now takes twice as long as it used to. It took me 26 days till I received a refund from one retailer. And that’s after having rang them up. Food doesn’t taste as good as it once did – this is obviously the one that hits close to home! I get upset when I (over)pay for foodstuffs only to find when it arrives, it doesn’t quite taste like it once did. It tastes, well, average.
So at the end of it, we’re all getting poorer not to mention more agitated! Maybe the trick is to lower our expectations so that our reality will come to match that. Because when we get upset it’s when reality is way lower than our expectations. But c’mon, why should we have to do that. If we pay for something, we should expect something decent on the other end.
Companies who skimp go straight in my bad books! And they generally don’t make for return customers, either. They leave a bad taste in your mouth. The places you shop at or use for services that provide quality, you’d do well to stick with them.
Sometimes it’s worth paying up for something. It’ll save you money and spare you from grief both now – and in the future!
If you pay peanuts, you may just end up getting monkeys.
Disclaimer: This blog is not investment or financial advice. It is my opinion only. This blog is not a personal recommendation to buy/sell any security, or to adopt any such investment strategy. Always do your own research before you commit to any investment.
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