The Economics of Convenience
This morning I went to the weekly farmers’ market at the San Francisco Ferry Building, which was lovely. A traditional rental shop had set up a stall in front of the building and was offering bikes for rent. I imagined if I was a tourist and the type of person to make an impulse purchase/rental, I might have rented one. True—it would had been convenient, but what would be the ultimate price of that convenience? With a little bit of planning ahead, how much money could have been saved? I will admit that I didn’t inquire about prices (I should have) but I imagine the minimum rental price was probably around $40 for a few hours. Probably more. If a family of 4 had rented, that would have added up to $160! That’s enough to go to Target and buy a halfway decent bike - not even the cheapest model. On the other hand, if the same family had reserved 4 bikes ahead of time that cost $10 per day, then the price would have been $40. That’s about the price of a halfway decent helmet. Much more reasonable. So yes - it is convenient to rent on impulse. But is $120 worth a bit of planning ahead? I would say yes.