When is a group discount not a discount?
The question – increasingly important with the mushrooming of group discount sites — was posed by Auckland Computerworld reader Peter Banks of computer maintenance company Selcom. It was in regard to an offer on TradeMe’s group-discount site TreatMe on June 20, from rival maintenance company Crown Solutions.
The posting offered a one-hour inspection and repair at home or office for $89 against a claimed regular price of $241.50. “I don’t think anyone would pay $241 an hour for a PC repair,” Banks claimed in an email to Computerworld.
TreatMe spokesman James MacAvoy says, “after checking out some market prices I would agree with your informant that Crown Solutions is one of the more costly service providers in town — although I would give them credit that they are geared to handle corporate environments and issues as well, which normally means their costs are higher in the IT world.”
While $241.50 appears pricey it is not “wildly overestimated”, he says.
Leo Medway, manager at Crown Solutions, says the quoted price is not $241.50 solely for an hour’s labour; it includes a $60+GST callout fee. Crown’s hourly rate is $150 + GST, he says.
Medway says the higher-than-average cost of Crown’s regular service reflects the company’s experience in the enterprise market. Asked whether it could be more than a home or home-office PC user would be prepared to pay, Medway says that is why Crown posted the TreatMe discount; “that is a market we are trying to get into”.
The query over the offer, TreatMe’s MacAvoy says, “highlights the importance of ... always ensuring retail prices are accurate and at fair market rates prior to the discount being applied. Over-inflation of prices before discounting has been well documented overseas and it absolutely undermines the value of the deal and the trust we work so hard to build and maintain with our members,” he says.
“We’ll take the feedback [from Peter Banks] on board.”