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May/June 2002

NAGS Notes  hot topics

Have I Got A Deal For You!
by Catherine Howard

Growing up with four sisters provided many opportunities to learn about relative value. Which one is taller, thinner, brighter, prettier? If I do this for you, will you give me that? I’ll trade you that for this.50  OFF COPY.TIF

Bartering was a way of life in our little sorority. We each had a jewelry box filled with the best and brightest buttons, plastic beads, rhinestone bracelets and Cracker Jack prize rings. That was our currency, always with the statement that, “If you do ‘X’ for me, I’ll let you pick anything you want out of my jewelry box. No kidding.”

Of course, “X” usually translated into some loathsome task associated with a nasty cleanup job or eating someone’s share of liver. (Actually, I liked liver as a child, but don’t eat it at all now. Too many trades, I guess.)

Being one of the youngest, I was an easy mark for the older and wiser ones. It was almost guaranteed that my gullibility would provide an advantage to my partner in any deal that went down. It took me awhile, but I eventually caught on to the fact that the really choice baubles were cleverly removed prior to the selection process. “No kidding?”

OK, by now I’m sure you are wondering where all this is going. Well, it all has to do with the jewelry trade, literally and figuratively. Once I matured and started appreciating the difference between pop beads and real jewelry, I would occasionally shop around for items of unique distinction (at least to me).

On one such foray, I spotted an opal ring that caught my eye. This was in what was considered a swank shop—very upscale in the most exclusive shopping center of that particular city. It was most striking and unusual—obviously too unusual for the tastes of the average patron of that shop because I thought it was very reasonably priced for the value.

I didn’t buy it that day, but I kept thinking about it. I finally went back to see if it was still there. It was, but it had been moved to the “50-percent-off” section. I was delighted! Upon closer inspection, it seemed to me that the “list” price was $100 higher than it had been when it wasn’t on sale. What’s this? Is that legal? What kind of joint is this anyway?

Of course, I couldn’t swear to it. I didn’t write down the price and the date. I didn’t have a picture of it in the case with the “real” price tag next to it. But then, I would have bought it at the original price. Even with the new original list at 50 percent off, it was still lower than the original, original list.

I bought it. I love it. I feel it was worth what I paid. However, I learned a very good lesson that day. I no longer care about discounts or sales. All I need to know is that the value is worth the price. And I have never looked at the jewelry trade in the same way since.

With that attitude, who would have thought that I would end up in the auto glass business, with NAGS® of all places? Life is filled with many little ironies.

So that brings me to the deal. What would it be like if there were no universal Benchmark price (a.k.a. NAGS)? What if each manufacturer published its own MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price … note the term “Suggested”)?

How would the market react if trademark codes, which are already established, were actually used to indicate the part number, the manufacturer of the glass and the value that manufacturer places on that particular piece of glass?

It may sound complicated, and to some degree I guess it is. There would be multiple prices for the same part depending on the manufacturer (trademark) of the glass. However, all this complexity is certainly manageable within our database and the available computer systems that use it. It’s just another level of information, really.

Would that end the discounting? It could on some parts. But then, take a lesson from the jewelry trade. What do you think?    

What Do You Think?
Should NAGS move away from
Benchmark pricing?

Catherine Howard is the vice president/general manager of National Auto Glass Specifications in San Diego.


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