The Cost Of Free

August 2, 2012 in Daily Bulletin, Signature

We get a lot of things for free on the internet these days. For their own sake companies better not dare charge money for them writes Chana Joffe-Walt:

  • US Veterans don’t like the Red Cross because during World War 2 the Red Cross would offer free coffee and donuts but soon began to charge for them.
  • They only started to charge for them because their British allies had to pay for the same things, and this was creating tensions.
  • The change didn’t last long – the Red Cross soon went back to giving donuts away for free. But veterans continue to harbour feelings of resentment.
  • The problem wasn’t the price – it was that the positive image that the Red Cross had built was ruined. The resentment stemmed from disappointment.
  • Companies that try to charge for products presently given away for free might face a similar backlash – even if the prices were reasonable.

To read more including the economist that discovered the phenomenon, what an archivist for the Red Cross has to say about it, the role of categorical change, and a wider transcript of an interview, click here.

Source: NPR

Via: Freakonomics