The price of free chicken

Basha’s, a local supermarket chain here in Arizona, has been recently promoting rotisserie chickens for $4.99. I haven’t tried one yet, so I don’t know if it’s a good price or not. For me, the more interesting part of the promotion is the store’s guarantee that chicken will be in stock between 4 and 7 pm or it’s free.

So I ask, what’s the value of free chicken when there’s no chicken to be had? Even if the store offers you a rain check, which may be what the promotion is implying, is your family really going to prefer a free chicken tomorrow to a $4.99 chicken tonight? Personally, I don’t go out to buy a cooked chicken unless I’m ready to eat it.

This idea of attaching a price to things that don’t exist reminds me of the gasoline shortage several years ago here in the Valley. A number of gas retailers were accused of “gouging” consumers by raising pump prices well above the pre-crisis level. Of course, among the retailers that kept their prices low, most found themselves quickly out of stock. Not exactly a surprise.

If your car’s fuel gauge is on empty and you have to get to work, would you prefer a gallon of gas right now at $3.99, or would you prefer knowing the guy in front of you got the last gallon for $2.19?

Unlike your family, your car won’t be satisfied with a pizza instead.