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Cheap: The Real Cost of the Global Trend for Bargains, Discounts & Consumer Choice Hardcover – March, 2006


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Kogan Page Business Books (March 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0749445343
  • ISBN-13: 978-0749445348
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 1.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,157,261 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

In this account of society's greedy over consumption we find the darker side of some of our favorite organizations. -- Conservation Foundation Magazine -- The Parish Pump

Touches on the long term consequences of Everyday low Pricing. -- The Grocery Trader

About the Author

David Bosshart is the CEO of the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute for Economic and Social Studies [GDI], Switzerland's oldest and most independent think tank focusing on the area of consumption, trade and society for the last forty years. Bosshart is a trends analyst and also the author of Cult Marketing and The Future of the Consumer Society.

Customer Reviews

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Allowing people to afford things is not a crime; it is not even a bad idea.
Peter Lorenzi
Aside from translation, I found the book repetitive, poorly organized and at times hysterical.
Amazon Customer
People buy cheap cereal at Wal-Mart but expensive produce at health food stores.
Dan Bergevin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Many of the rhetorical lapses evident in "cheap" may well derive from a poor translation from the German. It seems as though no effort was made to avoid literal translation - much of the text is awkwardly phrased at best, completely non-sensical at worst. For example, immigrants who cross borders to take low-paying caregiving job such as nurses aid, nanny, etc. are described as being in the "love services", a phrase that has a distinctly different connotation in English than that which its author seems to have intended, judging from context anyway. "Love services" might well mean "caregiving" in the German vernacular, but the lack of proper translation certainly does lend credibility issues.

Aside from translation, I found the book repetitive, poorly organized and at times hysterical. (And this is from someone who agrees that "cheap" isn't necessarily a good thing in our current economy.) In this book, "Axis of Evil" means Wal-Mart, China and the Internet. Does the author really mean "evil" or is he being clever? We're never quite sure, although "evil" pops up in the text repeatedly, none of the context supplies any information that seems to warrant such a designation. Again, there may be a translation problem.

Bosshart is no fan of the Internet is seems, and regards the time that consumers spend seeking information and weighing choices using the Net to be unaccounted for costs. Well, maybe. But I, for one, fail to see how customer-empowerment is a problem that must be traced back to one of the "Axis of Evil" as defined in the book. We're never told why, precisely, it's a bad thing other than if people are using the Internet to explore purchasing options than they're not doing anything else. But what alternate activities might be preferable is never made clear.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Peter Lorenzi on March 12, 2006
Format: Hardcover
As fascinating as the thought might be and as seductive as the book's hype might also be, I found the entire premise and treatment lacking. Let me try to be specific, rather than take a few "cheap" shots. From the start, Bosshart takes up a style that is repetitive, rhetorical, and unsubstantiated. He asks three questions (p.4): "Would you like to earn more tomorrow than you do today? Would you prefer to see lower prices or higher prices when you go shopping? If you are one of those privileged enough to be able to put money aside, would you prefer a higher or lower return on your investment?" Then he "answers" his own poorly worded, biased, leading questions: "There is no need for further explanation here; the answers are clear and speak for themselves." You not likely to achieve the first or third aim, "but the second aim lies well within my grasp." NOTE: His shift between first- and third-person writing is at times confusing. Then he disparages cheap - really he means "inexpensive" but using it would ruin his thesis and hyper-marketing - food, clothing, computers, home improvement and furnishings, and travel. Reads like an old European grousing that middle-class people can afford luxuries, i.e., "Look at that white trash sitting in business class." He needs to look at his own sense of elitism, envy and low self-esteem.

He takes a side step (pp. 23-23) to assert that gambling is a trillion-dollar industry in the United States. Accepting his assertion for a moment, what does this really have to do with "cheap"? He claims, "The value of MBA is decreasing," (p. 24) and footnotes his claim. Only there is nothing there in the footnote to explain his claim and the regular, wide publication of rapidly increasing starting salaries of newly minted MBAs in Business Week seem to escape him.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dan Bergevin VINE VOICE on March 15, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I basically agree with the other two reviewers, but with one exception. No, I do not think that Wal-Mart is evil. And furthermore, who really cares if "Wal-Mart wants people to shop there without thinking?" People choose to shop there, period. If several hundred people choose to shop at the local Wal-Mart Supercenter and not at Joe's Market (the locally owned grocer) then who is at fault if Joe goes bankrupt? Wal-Mart may have low prices, but customers must choose if they want cheap stuff now or Joe's Market to still be around tomorrow. If you want Joe's Market to stay in business, buy Joe's stuff, even if it costs more. Wal-Mart then wouldn't have any money, and no one would feel sorry for "bullied" suppliers because the bully would have empty pockets.

That's the opposing argument, now here's reality: people buy cheap socks at Wal-Mart and expensive pants at Saks Fifth Avenue. People buy cheap cereal at Wal-Mart but expensive produce at health food stores. Not many people buy luxury-priced everything and not many people buy cheap-priced everything. I personally have never met anyone who falls into either category (not even homeless people, and yes I've known a few). Inexpensive and pricy are two sides of the same coin, not opposing forces locked in mortal combat.

It all boils down to what Steven Landburg wrote in The Armchair Economist- "people respond to incentives." If there's an incentive to look at Internet porn, or to buy a cheap shirt, or to buy a cheap book on marketing, then there will be people likely to do so. But other people (and sometimes the very same people) also have incentives to pay a premium for prostitutes, haute couture, and higher education. The incentive for one does not necessarily cancel the incentive for the other.
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