Why are these towels cheaper?

By Murray Bourne, 28 Sep 2009

A lot of people struggle with math because they missed some vital concepts along the way.

The following is from Not Always Right | Funny and Stupid Customer Quotes:

Customer: “Hi, why are these towels $4.99, but the others $6.99?”

Me: “The $6.99 towels are 6 feet long, and the $4.99 towels aren’t.”

Customer: “But why are they different prices?”

Me: “That’s because one is longer than the other.”

Customer: “I still don’t understand”

Customer’s Friend: “One is a bath sheet.”

Customer: “What does that mean?”

Customer’s Friend: “It’s 6 feet long. The other one is 4 feet long.”

Customer: “That doesn’t make any sense!”

Funny? Actually, no. This kind of gullible customer would pay the higher price for the smaller towel, blissfully unaware of what is going on. By extension (a long one), it's how the sub-prime mess got so bad. Customers did not understand the math of home loans.

Stupid? Not fair to say that. Lots of people suffer from conceptual difficulties through no fault of their own. At the extreme end of the scale, dyscalculics (those who struggle in math the same way dyslexics struggle in language) have no number sense, which means they have trouble with manipulating numbers in their head. They also struggle with estimating large numbers and measurement. There are physical reasons why they cannot understand why a smaller towel will be cheaper. It sounds hard to believe, but dysclaculis is a reality for a significant proportion of the population (around 5% by some estimates).

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