Pay for the razor, pay for the blades


"King Gillette
is famous for his invention of the disposable-blade razor, and the
associated business model, "give away the razor, sell the blades". This
strategy was widely imitated, but it seems marketers have struck an
even better one: why give away the razor when you can make the chumps
pay for it?

There are a number of products, some high-tech and some not where you actually pay handsomely for a device that is a doorstop without proprietary refills or service. Some examples:

In the US, most cell phones are either hard-wired to a specific
service provider (CDMA) or SIM-locked (GSM). A consumers’ group is fighting in court to ban or at least limit in time the practice, which is either outlawed or strictly regulated in most other countries.

Sure, the carrier is subsidizing the handset, but that is offset by
extra profit margins in the contract. Once the contract’s minimum term
is over, there is no justification whatsoever for maintaining the SIM
lock. AT&T was one of the most egregious offenders, it is not clear
if their policy will change after their takeover by Cingular.

I suspect one of the big reasons for SIM lock is so carriers can
charge extortionate international roaming charges, since without SIM
lock, it would be cheaper to just pop in a prepaid SIM card in the
country you are visiting. Actually, roaming charges are so overpriced
that it is cheaper to just buy a new phone for the prepaid card and
toss it away afterwards….

…As in most cases the utility of the machine without the overpriced
refills or service is nil, the fair market price for it should be zero.
The Vonage/Linksys situation is a special case as the wireless router
remains partially usable, albeit without VoIP features if you switch
providers. But marketers will keep trying to have it both ways until
consumers push back by implementing a zero-tolerance policy, akin to
the "broken-window" theory of policing. Do not accept to pay for a cell
phone from a carrier that refuses to unlock it after a reasonable
amount of time. Refuse to purchase digital devices that require service
from a specific vendor to function."

Fazal Majid
Low Intensity Blog


One thought on “Pay for the razor, pay for the blades

  1. Some time ago, I got a Gillette Mach 3 Turbo with a can of shaving cream for free in the mail out of nowhere. Well of course blades wear-out and so I went to get new blades. $12 for a box of blades. It only gets worse- I accidently got the wrong kind! They didn’t fit my razor but fortunately today I have a nice little electric razor. I miss the closeness of a regular shave though.

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