Sunday, April 27, 2014

The children are all above average

Looks like there's a hitch in the fabric of space-time over at the Foremost Newspaper of the Carolinas:

A two-bedroom apartment in one of north Charlotte’s largest complexes could cost you about $900 a month. Next week, it might run you hundreds of dollars more.

Apartment shoppers in Charlotte are finding that prices on units they’re interested in can vary dramatically from day to day, even hundreds of dollars in the span of a week. Driving the price swings are algorithms that track apartment supply and demand using dozens of variables.

Starting to see a problem?

It’s the same type of software that lets airlines charge you hundreds of dollars more than the stranger sitting next to you, depending on when you booked. Dynamic pricing, as it’s called, drives what you pay for everything from hotel rooms to the hottest items on Amazon – anything where supply and demand can fluctuate quickly.

Which means, should "you" be "the stranger" instead of you, it's also the mechanism that lets airlines charge you hundreds of dollars less:

Bell Partners’ portfolio includes the Hunt Club apartments in University City. Last year, advertised rents on a one-bedroom peaked at $806 in February, falling to $588 in May.

... At the Cheswyck at Ballantyne apartments, advertised prices on a two-bedroom unit went from $1,093 to $1,206 and back down to $1,090 between late October and late November.

As a general rule, it's a good idea to avoid telling your readers what effect something will have on them individually. Since that bit of advice seems to be worth every cent of the subscription price, here's a specific variation: When you can put the opposite headline ("Why you pay less rent than your neighbor") on the story and get the same meaning, you need a new headline.

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