I don’t order takeaways because of two words beginning with ‘p’ and ‘c’. This isn’t about how much salt you consume, or why MSG tastes so moreish, but how brands get us to overspend on our favourite fast food without most us even knowing.Listen to “060: Why I Don’t Order Takeaways” on Spreaker.
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Watch/Listen To Why I Don’t Order Takeaways via YouTube
Transcript: Why I Don’t Order Takeaways
Bear: [00:00:00] It was early summer, 2020. Possibly. I never lie. I only occasionally make things up.
Actually as much as I love sharing information about how to make and save money from my own pitfalls, I am occasionally vague about the where and the when. And that’s because I also really like my privacy. But let’s just say I’m pretty sure it was 2020. I’d had a lot of bad news in one day about more than one family member.
We were still in the depths of lockdown.
Tensions in the world were high and it had reached into every pore of my being. Do I need to turn the drama up a bit more?
Bear: Or is, is this a good level for you? Oh, I’d also done things recently, like launching a blog for the first time. I was just putting myself under a lot of pressure on top of sitting inside the pressure cooker, that was the world.
And so I had this bright idea,
pure sacrilege to money bloggers everywhere, which is that I had food in the cupboards and the freezer, I knew what to do with those ingredients,
but I thought instead, I’m going to order a takeaway. And I hadn’t ordered a takeaway as far as I can [00:01:00] remember for over three years at that point and ordering this takeaway really cemented why that is. So I wanted to share it with you today because I learned something that’s actually about business models
that also means I’ll probably never order a takeaway ever again. And that’s okay. And maybe you’ll never order a takeaway ever again and benefit. Let’s see. Shall we?
So a few variables for this experiment. One is that I’m autistic. Now the fun thing about that is that when presented with novelty, my brain is like, oh great. We get to make a decision we don’t normally make. Okay. Well let’s first let’s catalog the entire playing field and find out every possible factor involved in this decision.
And then let’s start making a process of elimination. If you’re thinking well, yeah, that’s how I approach all of my decisions too,
then great. You may be highly analytical as well. And if you’re thinking that’s not how I order a takeaway, I just, you know, get the thing I have every week, or I just order the thing that I wanna eat the most, or I just order the cheapest thing. Gosh, I wonder what it’s like to be you.
Just to make this experiment even more exciting as if I wasn’t [00:02:00] already under quite a lot of stress and the research shows that we don’t make the best decisions, or we certainly don’t make fast decisions when we’re already stressed, I thought, oh, well, it’s been such a long time since I ordered a takeaway.
I’ll see how easy it is to order vegan food in our modern climes. Cuz you would think if you hadn’t had a takeaway for over three years, that perhaps there would’ve been some great breakthroughs in that regard.
and to my shock and surprise Papa Johns had vegan pizzas and vegan pizzas that actually looked interesting and like something I probably wouldn’t make myself because one of my variables
when ordering food is, is this something that I would just eat at home otherwise? And if so, I don’t really see the value in it.
Now the ridiculousness of all of this was that a few days earlier, I had stood in Aldi looking at the frozen pizza section and decided not to buy frozen pizza, cuz I was like, Ooh, that’s pretty steep just for a pizza. I mean, I usually eat dinner for less than a pound. Do you really wanna? Oh, riveting. My supermarket shop is absolutely riveting.
And so that was my point of comparison that I wouldn’t [00:03:00] ordinarily spend, you know, one pound 75 on a pizza in the supermarket. Now Papa Johns had about 10 deals to choose from. And a lot of them were overlapping in the sense that you could use them to order the same food, essentially, but it was down to you to choose the offer that gave you the best discount.
And this is where it gets really confusing. Now, perhaps you don’t care. Like I said, perhaps you don’t try to get the best value for money when you order your takeaway or perhaps to you deciding whether it’s value for money isn’t really related to the price tag at all, but just whether you enjoyed it or who enjoyed it with you. Or perhaps the
value to it, whether you spend 20 pound or a hundred pound, is simply that you didn’t have to cook something that night, because perhaps that’s a rarity for you. And you’re used to cooking for a large household or whatever, but keep in mind that I can normally make really nutritious, quick food for less than a pound per meal.
And I didn’t mind doing that, and
that I hadn’t ordered a takeaway for over three years, the expectations. The expectations were so high. Now, what was going on here with these 10 deals to choose from that all looked kind of similar,[00:04:00] but not, made it impossible to narrow down a decision based on price, basically.
This is called price confusion. And once you see it in this scenario, you then start to see it in lots of other scenarios too. Now I personally hate price confusion,
because you could have two houses next door to each other order basically the same food, but one house would end up paying more. They think they picked the deal that looked better, but they actually paid more. And it’s because psychologically we like to hear certain percentages or we have a minimum spend in mind.
So for instance, if something says it’s 10% off, a lot of us won’t actually do the math and then be like, oh, two pound off. And, and yet if they said to you we’ll give you two pound off your order, you’ll be like, Hm, why bother?
Now I’m not gonna go into the nitty gritty of whether you should order an XXL if you want enough for lunch the next day, versus whether you should just get a small pizza with six slices.
And I’m not gonna go into the math that did happen about whether I should get sides with 15 pound off 30 pound
when I didn’t wanna eat any of the sides or [00:05:00] whether I should have used the take two Tuesday offer, which meant I could get a buy one, get one free pizza or a buy one, get one free side.
Safe to say that when I did actually work out the best value offer, it wasn’t available. yeah. I’m also not gonna talk about how much time this took. Yeah, you should also take into account that time is money.
Their best looking offer was a 25% off a 25 pound spend. Remember how I said sometimes a percentage sounds a lot more attractive than a number figure… That is a number figure; it’s a percentage. Than saying, 10 pound off or whatever. And no matter how I applied the 25% off a 25 pound spend, everything came out more expensive than any of the other offers.
And yet that’s one of those deals where I think a lot of people look at that and go, oh, 25% off. That sounds, that sounds amazing. No, no, it’s not amazing.
And the worst part of all of this was that I didn’t even really enjoy the food when it arrived because of course, the way to make money from delivering food is to make something that’s, you know, like 99% dough, and not a lot else. It was a nutritional [00:06:00] wasteland. And I thought to myself afterwards, why did I do this?
Why did you do this to yourself?
In fact, I had made pizza myself using tortillas as a base the month before that. I could literally have made my own pizza in minutes.
And then the reward scheme, which I did not use, I could have earned a grand total of three per points on this order.
And what do your points get you? Well, if you spend over a hundred pound, you can get a free pizza.
And then the other trap that they had was this supposed cashback offer, but I’ve seen this button come up before on other websites too. And you have to be really careful to look at the small print. It’s not like joining a website like Topcashback you can trust, but if you’re ever buying something and you see this cashback offer come up,
just double check the small print in the box because there’s a cashback offer on lots of websites. It’s actually a 15 pound per month subscription scheme so that you could get £6.87 of cashback on your takeaway order, which is obviously useless and absolute madness. So don’t get roped into that.
So, what did I gain from all this? And I think there’s one big thing that I gained, but first I sort of satisfied [00:07:00] an emotional need, I guess, cuz I didn’t have to make dinner, except that I didn’t really enjoy what I ordered. I didn’t have to cook anything for once. I didn’t have to make a decision about what to make at home, but then as we can tell, I wasted way too much energy with the default setting that my autistic brain has, which is, oh, you want me to make a brand new decision, including all this information I haven’t looked at before?
Just for the record, I am capable of making decisions quickly also in other scenarios. So for instance, I wanted to have a very specific notebook one day. So I just made my own on Amazon. And you would think, well, that’s, that can’t be a quick thing to do. I’d… I’d never made a notebook before on Amazon, but I had come across the concept before of making your own notebooks.
I had read up about it before. I think I did the research on like a Sunday and by the Tuesday I was making my own notebook. But the crucial thing there was that I wasn’t completely zapped of energy. Things were going better. And there’s lot evidence that shows that when we are under huge amounts of stress, we are much more likely to make bad [00:08:00] financial decisions. And also when times are tough financially, the research shows that we’re much more likely to go for those quick, easy bursts of pleasure. A takeaway here, a pint there,
an extra bar of chocolate or bottle of wine or whatever it is. And these things add up, right? Exactly when you really can’t afford for them to creep into your spending.
So the number one thing that I actually took away from this was that I hate price confusion, and if I ever sell anything myself, I hope I never have to use it in order to make any money. Because the thing that it left me with as a residue was just this concept that, wow, imagine if you could feed people, sell them dinner and they would buy it from you because they enjoyed what they were eating and they thought that that made it good enough value.
The very concept that the majority of takeaway businesses make their money is through price confusion, they have to have these numerous deals where you can’t tell what the value for money is. That they have to do that in order to increase your spend by that extra [00:09:00] 10, 20 pound in order to stay afloat.
At my core, it just speaks to me, it says,
this can never be good value for money. And this shouldn’t be a business model perhaps, or at least I don’t ever have to shop at a business where that is the business model. I suppose, insurance is another example of this, right? It’s incredibly difficult to compare insurance policies side by side quite often.
And it’s made very confusing because you bring up what you think is gonna be the cheapest policy. And then the next insurer is… It seems to be cheaper, but then they’ve taken this thing out of it that you now have to pay extra for. So you add that on and then that makes it more expensive. And then you realize, oh wait that policy…
oh, actually, they’ve got that other thing. They’ve got legal cover. I wanted legal cover. I’ll go back to the other one. They had legal cover included. Oh no, wait. Oh, no, that policy… oh, no, but I, I should probably cover my windscreen wipers. Oh, wait, that’s gonna add a hundred pound. A hundred pound?! How did this happen?
Price confusion. It’s all designed to weigh you down until you cannot make a decision at all and you just end up spending whatever. And here we are.
So here’s the thing. If you[00:10:00] love takeaways for their own sake, perhaps knowing about price confusion changes nothing for you. Perhaps you’re like, well, yes, of course. I don’t care. I order the thing that I want and it’s value for money for me because I like takeaways. But if you didn’t know before today, that price confusion was a thing,
then I hope this saves you some money. If it changes the way that you think about takeaways, if it changes the way that you think about spending full stop, if in future, it helps you to recognize a situation where you’re about to become a customer, and then you see what’s going on in front of you and you think, hang on a coco.
If this is what I need, and it’s so good, why aren’t you just selling it to me? Why have you gotta give me 10 very confusing options to choose from so that I just choose whatever seems easiest and you get the money anyway?
As ever, let me know what you think.
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