Monday, April 13, 2009

Trimming Value at the Margins

About four years ago, I wrote about my "jugban" system, a simple container-kanban system I use to replenish the distilled water with which I clean my contact lenses each morning. 
This evening, I stopped by the local grocery store to refill the recently-emptied jug in two-jug system.  I put my money in the water dispensing machine and it fed a gallon into my jug.
Well, almost a gallon. 
Well, actually, only about 90% of a gallon.
I've used this same machine for a couple of years.  Yet, over the past six months, I find that I gradually get a little less than what I got the previous time.  To the point now it is quite noticeable.  The price has stayed the same.  But is this just a drift in the controls in the machine?  Or is the machine operator trying to improve his/her margin by dialing back the volume?  The machine stated it had been serviced just a week ago.  But did anyone check the calibration??
The water is not a big deal.  But the simple drift, the simple loss of value made me wonder if the owner was also cutting corners on the filtration system or the reverse osmosis membrane. 
What I could see (volume of water) made me wonder about what I couldn't see (microscopic quality of water). 
Am I doing any of the same things?? 
Made me wonder.  I hope it makes you wonder as well. 
Keep on learning. 


Project Reformer said...

I saw a story on the Today Show about peanut butter. One of the brands came out with a new jar that appeared to look like the current jar, except that instead of a relatively flat bottom, it was hollowed out (concave). The new jar held less peanut butter than the old jar. It's the loyal shoppers that got hurt. They see the usually shaped jar and just pick it up rather than stopping to compare actual volume of one brand versus the others. This is the worst of trimming value at the margins. The company hurt their most loyal customers.

Karen said...

At the grocery store yesterday, I noticed the new "refrigerator friendly" milk cartons... that hold 3/4 gallon of milk. While the space savings idea is a good one, I suspect that soon (maybe very soon) the price of a 3/4 gallon of milk will be what people expect to pay for a full gallon...friendly container or not.