It's a package deal, they say. Bundle this with that and get a better price. It's like Christmas morning, wrapped with a fancy bow and your name on it. But how much of your soul, your spirit, your brain power dies every time you buy into the bundling rage?
First, let's step back and examine how many products fall into this dark hole of bundling.
When flying through a fast food joint, bundling is thrown into your face with speed and efficiency. You are hungry, they know it, and it's too tempting to not get fries AND a drink with that burger. The biggest pictures on the screen are meal deals, easily read and looking pretty with photoshopped images. Buy each item separately; $25 please. Bundle those delicious, mouth watering cookies with your sub and save yourself $5. You might as well give in because they have already gotten in your head; it's over, they've bundled you. But, could quality restaurants really be using the same scheme? Surely that side of fries, no one can finish alone, is just a nice gesture for buying a meal at this establishment, right?
Probably the most hostile and ruthless of all bundling acts out there is none other than cable, internet, and phone. Did you know only about 40% of Americans still have a connected land line? Of those people, most have a cell phone as well. Millennial babies reading this probably don't even know what "land line" means. Yet, the cable companies still include phone lines in their bundle. There is a way out of their trap, but cable and especially internet have become like appendages to the modern family. To go without would be cutting off your big toe. How would we pass the time after dinner and before bed? How would we keep the kids entertained? So the cable company bundling rage continues on.
Did I say cable companies were the most hostile? Yet another bundling giant, Insurance companies throw you into a vortex of worry. What if we crash? What if I get sick? What if I need meds? What if... It may not look like the traditional bundling, but don't let their fancy co-pay, deductible, abutting coverage, and abatement wordage fool you; they are bundling you up so tight in their blankets of coverage, you'll be sucking down a bottle of milk by the end of the process.
The travel industry has also joined this frenzy of bundling. Those snacks on airlines, (for those that haven't flown in the recent century) are no longer free. In fact, some cost more than the flight itself. To make you feel better about purchasing these high end pretzels, they've created an airplane value meal. Now you get 5 crackers AND a 6oz drink of your choice for $10. But it's not just the food on the plane they snag you with. Have you noticed baggage bundles? Pay for your carry on at the time of purchase and save money. Pay for your carry on at the time of check in and save a little less money. Pay for your carry on at the counter or gate and you're screwed! They want to get you while the gettins good. Buy the flight, buy the flight insurance, buy your baggage, oh and while your at it, buy into our bargain club to save next time. Bundled!
Trivago, Expedia, Hotwire, Travelocity, booking.com, Priceline; they are your one-stop shop traveling meccas. No longer do you need to spend hours researching, calling, and comparing options for lodging. One swift GPS search and poof, hundreds of little tabs appear on your screen tantalizing you with their best price and prettiest picture. If that's too flashy for you, they have a "simplified" search page. Type in your price, area, quality, and even amenities desired; in return, they give you a list of options organized by price, location, or whatever they think you will buy into. Sweet, they made life easy by comparing similarly priced lodging. But then, they hit you with bundling.
Like every good business, these sites know when someone travels to Florida, lodging is not the only expense on the itinerary. Travel is a package deal, something these sites thrive on. You'll need a rental car to get around, a pass to Universal Studio for the kids, and an adult dinner at the comedy club. How do they know you so well? Is it too good to be true? Can you really plan and pay for your whole trip with one little search? What they don't tell you is hundreds of other families just bundled this exact trip. They are good, real good. "Vacation," the not so different destination because your neighbor is two rooms down, three seats over, and served by the same waitress in an oddly familiar restaurant like one you have "couples night" at back home.
I don't know about you, but I'm exhausted. I'm bundled to death, you could say, and this list is far from complete.
What happened to freedom of choice? Where did variety go? Did spontaneity go out the window along with my brain?
The bundling rage has become common place in most facets of life. This interesting game plan was a brilliant ploy in the beginning, but has now diverged into subliminal control by companies thinking they know what you want better than you do. It's a difficult marketing plan to decipher because at times bundling does save you money. Other times, however, they wrap things up so neatly for you, there are few variations from one customer to the next, making people into robots."I Am #2 Hungry. I Am A Mid-Quality Hotel Comfort. I Am Level 3 Addicted To The Internet." Bundling automatically throws you into a category, and guess how they know which activity options to offer on those one-stop shop booking sites. The mind game goes far beyond what we see on a screen.
Travel bundling especially irritates me. If you are looking for a cookie cutter experience exactly how neighbor Joe did it, then click away. In fact, if you want to save money just watch it on the travel channel because that will be the extent of your excitement. But, if you really want to travel, to experience a personal get away, an enlightening thrill, a shocking adventure, a memorable trip than don't let big booking sites tell you what you like. Discovery is part of the process. Taking time to research prepares you. (http://brktrail.com/travelprep/). Jumping on a bike tour last minute thrills you. (http://brktrail.com/savage-biking-in-bogota/) Finding an older couple who offers you a ride saves you money on a rental. All of these actions cannot be predicted by a website. Don't let them trick you into biting the carrot.
The moral of the bundling rage is simple:
Bundling is everywhere!
Be prepared to fight the temptations that really are not what you want!
Take time to compare your own options!
Don't forget that variety is the spice of life.
These guidelines serve as an added knife against the bundling mess they try to wrap you in. Always remember being YOU is, as the famous credit card slogan goes, PRICELESS!