Services Should Not Be Free At The Point Of Use

No, really, much better that we pay for them out of pocket:

Critics could argue the opposite, namely that because Professor Shiv had not charged his subjects – they got the wine for nothing – he had shown that people will value public services precisely because they are expensive but free. But his wine study is only part of a series: two years ago he charged a group of subjects different prices for so-called energy drinks such as Red Bull.

People believe that these “energy drinks” will help their brains to work better, yet subjects who were offered Red Bull at discounted prices managed to solve fewer brain teasers than did those who paid the full price: the price actually affected the purchasers\’ brain function. Professor Shiv entitled that paper You May Get What You Pay For.

So the political implication is confirmed: people value expensive goods, and – since paying for something reinforces the experience of price – only when people are charged for goods will they continue to value them. Today the gift of a bottle of $45 wine seems wonderful, but if a National Wine Service were to hand out free wine indefinitely, it would soon lose its value.

Private schools, therefore, are better than state schools, private houses are better than council houses, and Harley Street is better than the NHS, not only because the act of paying commands a better service but also because it infuses the consumer with a greater appreciation for that service. We do, indeed, get what we pay for.

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