Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Markets in Everything. Or Not. No More Gender Based Price Discrimination in New York City

WSJ -- "In New York City, 38 businesses have been hit this year for violating a little-known provision that has many pulling their hair: gender-pricing discrimination. The majority of violations so far this year—103—were issued to salons and barbershops.

The city's Department of Consumer Affairs began stepping up enforcement of the law last year, when it issued 580 gender-pricing violations to businesses, more than double the 212 doled out the year before. "We wanted to really send a strong message to businesses about this kind of illegal pricing, so we did a very focused sweep over the course of the year," said the department's commissioner, Jonathan Mintz. "That sweep was largely targeted at salons and barbershops and laundry and dry cleaning." The fines for first-time violations range from $50 to $200, while those for subsequent ones are $100 to $500.

"This is a very basic consumer-protection law and it is also a very basic civil-rights law," said Mr. Mintz. "I think there are completely legitimate reasons to charge different prices for different services and that one should be specific for what those reasons are," he added. "Reasons are not chromosomes."

While salons have received the most violations so far this year, in 2011 laundry and dry-cleaning businesses received 272 violations, compared with 269 for salons. In 2010, on the other hand, dry cleaners had only five violations, while "miscellaneous nonfood retail," which includes salons, had 207 violations."


At 5/30/2012 9:35 AM, Blogger Savior Faire said...

Interesting that I saw no mention of "Ladies admitted free" or "ladies drink at half price" promotions in clubs and bars.

Talk about gender discrimination.

At 5/30/2012 9:46 AM, Blogger Moe said...

We always do find it odd how my wife's blouses are 5x more expensive to dry clean than my shirts. Explanations range from hand clean vs machine, more delicate fabrics, etc., etc...Of all the issues out there right now-this shouldn't be on anyone's list.

(Lilian - stop following me!)

At 5/30/2012 9:57 AM, Blogger Chuck said...


Excellent point.

in my business, we have a secret UPMO fee for certain clients, "u piss me off". women at hair salons tend to take more time and are in general more needy. unfortunately, men will probably end up having to pay more to even out the price differences for women. of course, there is a men's night special at the salon i go to. hopefully that doesn't end.

At 5/30/2012 10:31 AM, Blogger Jon Murphy said...

Why stop at gender? How about those evil people discriminating on price? Why should I pay a higher price simply because I am between the ages of 12 and 65? Let's ban age discrimination!

At 5/30/2012 11:12 AM, Blogger Marko said...

I love that they call this "consumer protection." What, are they tricking people by charging more for a blouse than a shirt? I can almost see it if you say you will charge 5 bucks for dry cleaning and you actually charge 10 when the customer comes back and picks it up or they won't give you the garment back - that we need protection against. Of course the protection there is just giving me a mechanism (the court system) to enforce contracts, so no need for any additional "consumer protection" in that case really.

The consumer does need protection from being robbed or beaten by the dry cleaner - we again have the court system (you can sue him civilly for assault) and we have criminal enforcement as well.

But how does dictating prices protect consumers? Are women victims here? Can't they shop around or do these petty dictators think women are too stupid to shop for themselves? Is there a dry cleaner that charges the same for shirts as blouses?

The article makes it seem like the petty dictators are happy if you give a good enough reason (good enough for the would be dictators) for charging different prices, but if you don't, then the consumer must be "protected" because they are stoopid. Jeez.

At 5/30/2012 11:13 AM, Blogger Buddy R Pacifico said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 5/30/2012 11:18 AM, Blogger Buddy R Pacifico said...

"How about those evil people discriminating on price? Why should I pay a higher price simply because I am between the ages of 12 and 65?"

NYC Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE).

At 5/30/2012 11:21 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

So if I'm transgender it costs me less to get my dresses cleaned?

At 5/30/2012 11:54 AM, Blogger arbitrage789 said...

Savior Faire @ 9:35 AM

There have been some lawsuits over that. At least one was successful.

But any man who would file such a suit in that situation is a lame idiot.

At 5/30/2012 12:49 PM, Blogger spotteddog said...

What about life, health, and auto insurance? Men pay more. Is that "fair"?

At 5/30/2012 1:12 PM, Blogger Don said...

spotteddog> What about life, health, and auto insurance? Men pay more. Is that "fair"?

As an old PoliSci prof used to point out, it's not "equal" it's "equitable."

Men aren't the protected class (i.e. the voting block that was being targeted with this law), so they don't get the protection of the class.

Get with the program!

At 5/30/2012 4:24 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Is it possible that Commissioner Mintz is justifying the very existence of his department?

Question: If a man brings in a blouse and a man's shirt to be cleaned, is there discrimination if he's charged more for the blouse?

At 5/30/2012 5:00 PM, Blogger Mike said...

I really don't understand the allocation of funds to departments like this.
If I hire a company to do work in my home and they rob me by taking my money and not completing the work, I have to file a civil suit. But they have people walking around, handing out fines to companies over terminology.

This shows how little our bureaucrats understand business. Do they honestly believe that these places wouldn't get more money for "men's services" if they could justify it? Anyone who believes businesses just give away money to those with an "outie" is a complete idiot.

At 5/30/2012 9:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We always do find it odd how my wife's blouses are 5x more expensive to dry clean than my shirts

They aren't. Your shirts are almost certainly not being dry-cleaned, they're being laundered, a much less expensive process. Women's blouses are made using flimsy fabrics and construction that cannot withstand the stress of being laundered.

Do not forget that this has nothing to do with discrimination. Its real purpose is to subsidize women.

At 5/31/2012 8:33 AM, Blogger Moe said...

Nope, they are business dress shirts - they are most definelty being dry-cleaned.

At 5/31/2012 11:29 AM, Blogger morganovich said...


may i presume you are not wearing silk shirts? cotton is much easier to clean and press.

no way they are dry cleaning cotton shirts moe. that is simply not done. they are wet washed and pressed.

dry cleaning a cotton shirt is terrible for it. do that 10 times and you will have a rag.

salons in particular seem ridiculous here. women's haircuts tend to be much more complex. if i got hit with this, i'd just switch to per inch and per layer pricing.

At 5/31/2012 12:06 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

why womens blouses are more expensive to clean.

comes down to standardization and automation.

At 5/31/2012 6:04 PM, Blogger Methinks said...

Nope, they are business dress shirts - they are most definelty being dry-cleaned.

Uh, NO! Men's dress shirts are laundered and pressed on a standardized press that cannot accommodate the various sizes, flounces and fabrics of women's shirts (even if these shirts are cotton and laundered). One of my jobs in college happened to be in a dry cleaners and I happened to operate the press I'm talking about. Women's shirts have to be hand ironed. Men's suits? Way less complicated to clean than most of my dresses. Or my pantsuits, for that matter.

Also, women's haircuts are far more complex and take longer.

I'm with Mike on this. Calling it "consumer protection" doesn't even rise to laughable. Compliance and fines, as well as the very existence of taxpayer funded agencies like these raise the costs for everyone. If I could successfully overcharge women, I'd open a women's only dry cleaners and hair salon. I love rent.

At 5/31/2012 7:28 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

>>> Are women victims here?

No, the goal is to victimize men, whose cleaning isn't generally as delicate a fabric requiring far more caution and care, and whose hair generally takes far less work to cut and style.

One thing that is likely is to rig some kind of gender-specific function into the businesses -- barber shops are likely to become far more common than they are, as men switch to them for the cheaper cuts -- and they'll have the salon guys doing the cuts, just only on guys... women can go there, too, but "we don't recommend it, as our barbers are not that experienced cutting women's hair...", insist that they sign a waiver if they decide to ignore it, and then deliberately hack it up if the woman insists.

Now, how you're going to do this with laundry, I dunno. My guess is that men go to laundomats with drop-off service, and the drop off-service negotiates some "bulk price" for doing THEIR stuff for anything that needs dry cleaning as opposed to normal laundry services... Now screw up anything that women drop off of their clothing, just enough to cause dissatisfaction (wrinkles, that sort of thing) so she'll take her stuff elsewhere.

It's all part and parcel of how ridiculous this whole government "protection" scam is. Are they really any worse any more than dealing with Al Capone?

At 5/31/2012 7:31 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

>>> But any man who would file such a suit in that situation is a lame idiot.

I don't want to file suit against the BUSINESSES.

I want to file a civil rights violation against the government agencies responsible -- and their specific directors -- for rather blatantly not equally enforcing the law, followed by a class action lawsuit against the same agencies for all that money I lost paying extra for drinks.

They want to play this game, I think there are likely ways to eph with the mofos.

At 5/31/2012 7:36 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

>>> i'd just switch to per inch and per layer pricing.

Interesting option.

So freaking stupid.

Like this:
Corporate State and the Olympics

It's really a challenge, is all -- how do I comply with these halfwit morons' idiotic demands, and still get what I want? As I note in the comments, someone's going to get freaking famous coming up with some ad campaign that bypasses these idiotic restrictions. Then they'll get rich.

At 5/31/2012 7:41 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

>>> the various sizes, flounces and fabrics of women's shirts

Put more simply, women have pointy bits where men don't, and curves where men don't, and lots more variety in physique than men do, really.

Women's clothing comes in half-sizes, while men's generally doesn't even come in "odd" sizes.

At 5/31/2012 10:40 PM, Blogger Methinks said...

Well, I've never seen women's clothing in half sizes, but men's dress shirts are pretty standardized.

It's not that women's figures are less standard (if that were true, clothing production would be nearly impossible). Menswear in general is pretty standard. A button down shirt and trousers or a suit. That's it. Women do not have such standard clothing. How many white cotton dress shirts do women really wear to work? It's not worth creating a machine to process them.

I repeat: I love rent, I'm always looking for it. If I could successfully overcharge women, I'd go into the dry cleaning business for women only.


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