If you wake up on a Casper mattress, hail a Lyft to get to your desk at WeWork, use DoorDash to order lunch to the office, hail another Lyft home, and have Uber Eats bring you dinner, you have spent your entire day interacting with companies that will collectively lose nearly $13 billion this year. Most have never announced, and may never achieve, a profit. [The Atlantic ]
Despite what people believe, life is getting better over time. So why is it many people keep referring to the ‘good old days’ or keep saying that life is getting harder. It is because pessimism is intellectually seductive in a way optimism only wishes it could be. Hearing that the world is going to hell is more interesting than forecasting that things will gradually get better over time, even if the latter is accurate for most people most of the time
This is why the news keeps barraging us with negative and depressing stories. It is to keep our attention and sell their product. But it is also because bad things happen in singular events (death, criminal attacks, disease outbreaks) which is easily reportable by the news whilst good things happen gradually over time.
Today, the media talks about the cash strapped consumer. But the consumers has never had it better. That is the truth. Today, life is better for consumers that at any point in history. Besides housing, I feel that any other product is cheaper today that at any other point in the past.
The reason why? Because many companies put scale/growth ahead of profits. Many corporations today are making gigantic losses and subsidising the customer in the process.
Don’t believe me? Let’s look at a list of industries and businesses where you can consume a product essentially for free or a the fraction of the cost price.
Taxis – With the rise in ride hailing apps, such as Uber, Lyft and Kapten, taxis have become affordable again. I can’t remember the last time I took a rip off black cab service. Due to the numerous codes/free credits that are constantly being offered by the ride hailing cab services, one can now take taxi rides for essentialy the 10th of the price of a black cab. Just two weeks ago, I used a ride hailing cab service and it cost me £5 from London Stanstead to Stratford. Yes £5! And it’s not the driver footing the bill, its the companies as they are hugely loss making.
Share Dealing and Stock Market Investing – Gone are the days of paying £10 per trade. Today, a person is able to buy and sell shares with no dealing charges using apps such as Freetrade. Furthermore, index funds has never been cheaper with expenses as low as 0.09% – no more the need of paying 1%+.
Retailing and E-commerce – With companies such as Amazon, the price of goods has fallen rapidly. No longer are retailers able to command high margins. Many retailers have had to reduce margins in order to stay competitive. This has all benefitted the consumer. And don’t think just because Amazon grows it will use its monopolistic power to raise prices. If it does, I feel consumers will simply move to a different retailer.
Cash-back Shopping – By using sites such as top cash back and quidco, you get paid back a certain percentage of the value of your purchase. Essentially, you become a commission based salesman for your own purchases! Now that is true democratisation.
Information – Gone are the days we had to buy encyclopaedias. Today, information is free and at the tip of our fingers!
Beds / Sleep – Want to spend 1/3 like a billionaire? Then buy a good quality bed (LINK). And today, it has never been easier to buy a high quality bed at a decent price. Companies like Casper have come in and slashed prices to the benefit of the consumer. But investors in the company seem to be using out due to its loss making nature.
Workspace – Today, companies like Wework offer temporary office space for anyone looking for a place to work. But online a traditional office, renting space from Wework comes with a number of perks such as free coffee, free beer and great communal (entertainment spaces). And it seems that the customer renting the space is getting a sweet deal as We is hugely loss making – to the tune of $1 billion a year!
Mobile Phone Bills – With new challenger networks such as VOXI, one shouldn’t be paying more than £10 per month for a sim only deal. This gives 6gb of data, unlimited social media, unlimited calls and texts and a cancel anytime policy.
Travel – Flight prices are as cheap as they have ever been if you know how to look. Ditto for accommodation. Platforms like Airbnb and booking.com have increased price transparency and has allowed for one to opt for the cheaper book it yourself holiday.
Food – Many major chain restaurants are in distressed positions. Their costs are not being covered by the money that is coming in. For the owners and the employees, it is a terrible sign. But for the consumer, it can work out well. Restaurants are now changing tactics by introducing new ways of bringing in customers. But savvy sahoppers are suing Python scripts and an Instagram account to get free meals in New York City. [Chris Buetti]
So there you have it. 10 examples of consumers winning. I could have written much much more from cars to technology to software.
So the next time someone tells you life is getting harder, look at the facts and form your own opinion.