Have you ever heard of Skimpflation? That was a new one to me until a couple of weeks ago.
You might be familiar with SHRINKflation, but that’s different than SKIMPflation. If you aren’t familiar with SHRINKflation, that’s when companies subtly give you less product for your money. Instead of getting a half gallon (64 ounces) of ice cream you were used to buying, it might be 56 ounces or even 48 ounces.
I’ve gotten used to shrinkflation by now. Sometimes, you can catch a deal where they advertise “Now 10% more!” where they give you back some of the product they’ve taken away.
So let’s get back to the new kid on the block – SKIMPflation. SKIMPflation is when companies skimp on a service. I first came across this idea in this NPR article. Ironically, I came across that article while on hold with Southwest Airlines for four hours. See, Southwest has skimped on the customer service representatives.
NPR coined Skimpflation with this description:
The economywide decline in service quality that we’re now seeing is something different, and it doesn’t have a good name. It’s a situation where we’re paying the same or more for services, but they kinda suck compared with what they used to be. We propose a new word to describe this stealth-ninja kind of inflation: skimpflation. It’s when, instead of simply raising prices, companies skimp on the goods and services they provide.
About a week after my problem with Southwest, I found a friend had the problem with Singapore Airlines. Several days later, another friend was having a problem reaching the IRS. I tried not to laugh at that one, because there are so many articles explaining how hard it is to get ahold of anyone there. Their problem was particularly tough. They needed an ID number that the IRS had assigned to them and their tax specialist instructed them to call to get it. It wasn’t your standard question on how to fill a form – the only person with the information was the IRS.
When I discussed this with my friend, I explained that it seems to be going on everywhere. My wife has been reporting that the government’s mantra is “Do more with less” for the last two decades. Stretch… stretch… stretch. I have a theory that when one person quits they only fill that position some fraction of the time (maybe 50%?). That leaves more work for the remaining people, which makes it more likely that someone else will quit from being overworked. Maybe the last 10 years of big stock market gains makes people confident they have the money to retire?
What’s interesting to me is that the NPR article ends with the Federal Reserve and Treasury Department saying that the inflation is likely transitory. NPR said that they were probably right. The article is from six months ago and we know that inflation hasn’t disappeared. We know that the Federal Reserve was wrong. The Federal Reserve is acting to raise interest rates now and they have to balance curbing inflation without sending the economy into a recession.
In the meantime, what do you think? Do you find that services aren’t as good as they used to be? I do, but I also wonder if it’s a trick where nostalgia for the good old days is clouding my judgment.