So last Friday, I was tasked by the Commander-in-Chief (C-I-C) of the Household to carry out a very important mission. My mission was to get my hands on a redeemable plush toy from a particular CapitaMall Trust-run mall.
First, some background. CapitaMall Trust has been running a promotion where shoppers can redeem a Disney Tsum Tsum plush toy. CapitaMall Trust being the smart buggers they are (disclaimer: I’m a grateful unitholder) decided to have different characters available at different malls so real die-hard fans would have to go spend at various malls in order to collect all six characters.
So, my task was to spend enough to redeem an Eeyore Tsum Tsum plushie. I was given specific instructions to get it on Friday itself because that was the launch day and no chance must be taken that the target would be fully redeemed before I could get my hands on one.
Dutifully, I met the minimum required spending amount by 7:13 pm and took a queue number for my chance to get my hands on one of those adorable buggers. To my horror, because the mall has a system that allows you to key in your mobile number and the system will send you an SMS when your number is about to be called, I only realised at around 8 pm that there were some 200 people ahead of me in the queue. Even at 10-plus pm when the mall was about to close and the C-I-C arrived, my turn was nowhere in sight. Now, my palms were sweating. Worse still, the mall had stuck ‘fully redeemed’ stickers up on their wall adverts and it looked like there were only 50 more or so toys left to be redeemed.
The mall staff stayed back for a bit, trying to clear as much of the crowd as possible but it was only at 11 pm when the mall decided to throw in the towel and tell people to come back the following day. As soon as I heard that the mall’s system meant that we couldn’t retain our current queue numbers the following day, I realised that the turn of events meant that things were in our favour. Had the queue numbers remained, we would have some 150 or so people in front of us. If we stayed back to gripe about how the mall staff could have alerted us earlier, we would just be wasting time on the time we had already spent. In short, we would have fallen to the sunk-cost fallacy.
Also, the marginal cost of arguing with the staff was less than the marginal benefit from going home early to get as much sleep as possible so that we could hit the mall again the following morning.
Anyway, we went back early the next day, had a nice breakfast at Macdonald’s and were fourth in line an hour before the counter was due to officially open. The counter opened early and we got Eeyore within 15 minutes. Even better was the fact that we had so much time to kill before the next thing on our respective agendas for the day that we decided to catch “Beauty and the Beast” turning our morning into a proper morning date. It was one of the most fun things we’ve done in a while.
Despite my clickbait-ish title, I’m not saying economists have all the answers to help us deal with every situation in life. I’m saying that certain basic economic ways of thinking can help us make better decisions given the uncertainties of life. It’s inevitable that even if we make all the right decisions, the outcomes may not always be in our favour.