The variable value of £50

I have been looking through the catalogue for spending airmile-type points from the airline Etihad. Alongside the various objects and experiences are vouchers at various retailers. Strikingly, the price (in points) of a £50 voucher varies between retailers – pretty substantially. Money at Harrods costs over an eighth more than it does at Goldsmith, a high street jeweller. I thought that kind of funny because ostensibly £50 is worth the same anywhere.

I’ve long hated vouchers. They’re a way of giving people money but destroying much of the value – choice – therein. At best they’re an interest-free loan to the retailer; at worst you lose them and it’s a donation to the retailer.

Here’s the range of ‘prices’ for £50 vouchers on Etihad’s airmiles programme (i.e. a £50 Harrods voucher costs 11,815 points):

11,815 Harrods, £50
11,802 Selfridges, £50
11,720 Marks & Spencer, £50
11,531 Boots, £50
10,739 Interflora, £50
10,490 Goldsmith, £50
3,222 iTunes, £15
10,740 iTunes, £50 (equivalent)
Variance in cost of £50 vouchers

Even money is more expensive at Harrods. Funny old game. Gotta love classical economics…




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