I have a minor annoyance to gripe about. Minor. It isn’t on the scale of people having homes wiped out by a hurricane and scrabbling to find clean water or shelter. It isn’t on par with the overt racism, mysogyny, homophobia, etc. which are evidently part of this country’s core values, or the fact that people feel they have targets painted on their backs.
No, it’s a minor whine. I was shopping. I’m not a clothing or shoes or handbag kind of gal. I’m more like a books or software or 3D model person. I could care less what I wear, in general, as long as I can whomp up a plate of Mexican food and have some cool books and art and computer stuff.
Lately I’ve been buying stuff from Daz. One of their products, Daz Studio, excels in “allowing users to manipulate ready to use (3D) models and figures”, as Wikipedia puts it. Once upon a time, that wouldn’t have been interesting to me. If I wanted to create a piece of artwork that involved 3D, it was going to be highly specialized, not something that involved models one could purchase in a store. The idea puzzled me, actually; why would I want to use somebody else’s models? No, it was Blender for me all the way; I’d just go hack together whatever I wanted myself.
Then I started making book covers as opposed to pure art. Dear lord, so many book covers and so many people on those book covers, people making out or turning into dragons or being chased by UFOs. Yeah, you can do paintings a la James Gurney, pay human models to pose for you, or you can troll through the offerings of stock photo agencies. However, that stuff gets expensive and time-consuming.
You know what’s cheap and easy? You go to Daz, download their free software and core set of free models, and you start posing the figures. Then, after you get the figures the way you want ‘em, you poke the render button and use the result as a reference for a painting, or throw it into Photoshop with some lens flares and vague fuzzy blobs that might be Bigfoot.
So that’s what I did.
“I can do this,” I thought. “I can get by with just their base models and work everything else out in Photoshop. It’ll be cheap and easy. I don’t have to spend a bunch of money. I’ll keep things simple.”
One of the free stock characters, who is deeply unhappy because I chopped off his legs at the knees and he lacks the equipment to urinate.
Then I found out about the Platinum Club. “Discounts galore! Girls, girls, girls!” their ad read, or something like that. Okay, fine. They were running a deal on memberships. I paid a pittance, something like ten bucks, for a three month membership. The risk seemed minimal for that price, and I figured I’d see if the membership paid for itself.
Lillith 7. Hobbies: crouching in virtual water while I experiment with bump maps. Likes midnight taco runs, strolls along the beach, and fast render times.
Holy cow. It was like getting hooked on crack. So many 3D models I couldn’t live without, discounted oh-so-cheaply. They started their “Platinum Club” sale somewhere in there, and my buying resistance eroded even further. Sure, I could get by without more stuff, but wouldn’t making covers go even faster if I had a few more figures and clothes for them?
So I bought. I became one of those people who lurched over to the computer at the crack of dawn to see what had been added to the “Eight for $2.99” category. One model became another and another, and this morning I went hog-wild. “Platinum Club Final Catch-Up!” bellowed their website. I could barely even tear myself away from the computer to go use the toilet, the offerings were so succulent. Pretty much every darned thing on my wish list was discounted by mammoth amounts!
Terradome 3 was going for $12.95, massively on sale from its $59.95 list price. I flopped it in the cart and got another nice discount, down to $10.36. Woohoo! I found a bunch of stuff on my wish list on sale, and soon had piled in about $50 worth of stuff. For example, a base model of Ivan 7, which lists at $44.95, was on sale for $9.71 – then, when I added it to my cart, I received an additional discount to $7.77.
My thuggish heartthrob, Ivan 7. A steal at $7.77!
Wow. So much wonderfulness. At those prices, I wanted to see what else they had. But meanwhile, my kid was joggling my arm and whining about how he was hungry, so very weak he couldn’t even make it to the kitchen to whip up a piece of toast by himself, and he desperately needed some pancakes and an orange and a couple of pieces of bacon. So I muttered under my breath, heaved myself up off the couch, and lurched into the kitchen.
An hour later, I came back to my computer and updated the cart. Suddenly, its contents shot up in excess of $80. What the heck? We’re talking a difference in time of ONE HOUR on the SAME DAY yet the prices shifted upward. For example, Terradome skyrocketed from $10.36 to $17.26 – still on sale, but now $7 more. That was true across the board.
Or, to summarize my experience, “Big sale! Things I want massively discounted! I throw things and things and things in shopping cart! I go cook breakfast and look for even more things! Shopping FUN!” Then: “Prices go up … what do I do now? NOT fun.”
My theory is that they’re running an algorithm to see what kind of pricing gets people to buy or not buy – Amazon does that kind of thing – and if people were jumping on the sale in droves, maybe the algorithm hopped in and adjusted the prices upward. Or perhaps there’s a coding issue.
Here’s the thing, though. Once I’ve added something to the cart in good faith, at a particular price, I like it to stay at that price. An hour or two delay in checking out is not excessive. I should be able to hammer on the shopping cart and update it and add things all day long, until the clock ticks over to midnight, without seeing pricing changes.
This is not the first time I’ve seen this. It’s happened enough that I’ve started making screen captures of the shopping cart in between adding items, or making a text document with items and their prices itemized. The appropriate thing to do now would be to write the company, send them the screen captures, and ask “Say, folks, why did your prices bump up over the course of an hour?” Alas, I jotted prices down this time, which is equivalent to having no solid proof. (Much like the saying about oral contracts. “They’re worth the paper they’re written on.”)
It is what it is. Now I know, and now you do too. Double check that shopping cart one last time before you check out and enter your credit card information; otherwise, you may get a nasty surprise.
I didn’t actually need those models; I just wanted them. They were luxuries or items that would have made my work go a little faster. It’s not like I can complain about the company’s pricing in general, really; it takes time and hard work to make models, and I’ve benefited plenty from the Platinum Club sale. I know that running a company and all the trappings that go with it are expensive. However, once I’ve seen a price I find acceptable and put something in my cart, I really, really don’t like seeing the price increment upward. It’s one of those practices that lowers my trust for a company and makes me tend to avoid them.
I was planning on writing a review/comparison of Terradome 3 versus some other systems, but that isn’t going to happen now. On the positive side, I just saved myself $50-80 by abandoning the entire transaction.
I doubt Daz will notice the difference. They were doing fine before I came along. They’ll do fine after I’m gone. There are plenty of people who’ll see Terradome 3 listed at $21.58 and will swoop in and happily grab it up, not knowing that it was listed at $12.95 this morning, with an additional discount down to $10.36.
But I know.