Whatever happened to WYSIWYP?

transparent pricingI was on holiday last week. And it’s left a little bit of a bad taste in the mouth. No, not the croissants, pains au chocolat, brioches and and foie gras. They all went down a treat. The aftertaste I can feel rising in my gorge is the bitter tang of misleading pricing. That’s right. I flew Ryanair. Now they’re not alone in this, but they do seem to have perfected the art of turning WYSIWYP (what you see is what you pay) on its head.

It’s a numbers game

I went to Bergerac, in south-west France. And my flights cost just one penny (= 2 US cents) each way. Sure, you’ve got to add the airport taxes, but that’s all, right? Wrong. It’s some time since I last flew Ryanair, so I was surprised to discover that I also had to pay a £4 check-in fee each way (previously free) and £8 per bag each way (previously £7 per booking). So that’s another £24. All told, it was £44. A bargain. So why did I feel hard done by? Simple. The price I saw wasn’t the price I paid. If they’d said Bergerac £44, I would have been happy to pay it. And here’s the thing: they could have said £80 and I’d have shelled out without a second thought. It’s all about expectation. A few weeks back I wrote about underselling yourself. You can double your price and most people won’t blink. They’ll just pay. But you must quote with confidence and stick to your figure. Ryanair is unwittingly alienating customers by adding all the extras to push up the bottom line.

Bass motives

There was some small mercy. Ensconsed comfortably in my aisle seat, I fell into conversation with my neighbour, a well-spoken woman with a cello strapped into the seat next to her. She was off to a week-long music workshop, she told me. And she was really pleased to have got such a good price on the tickets. Tickets? For her and…oh yes, of course. The cello. So how much did she pay? “Well,” she said brightly, “it was only £100.” I gulped. “For each of us,” she added, patting her cello case affectionately. “How much did you pay?” I smiled sweetly, swallowed hard, and did what I had to do to make sure her holiday wasn’t spoiled. I lied. Find out more:
  • Need a break? I’d recommend Bergerac (but be sure you book early).