Would You Pay To Check Out Faster At The Supermarket?
Tim Lee makes his case against congestion pricing. He imagines standing in a busy grocery store and paying an "extra $6 for the express lane so I could skip the lines":
The grocery business is an intensely competitive one. If it were true that people could be won over to this kind of scheme once they had a chance to try it, you’d expect some entrepreneurial grocery store owner to give it a try. Yet I’ve lived in half a dozen different metropolitan areas and I’ve never seen a supermarket that utilized congestion pricing on its checkout lanes... customers would be suspicious that the supermarket was deliberately under-staffing the free lanes to gin up demand for the express ones. And this wouldn’t be a crazy suspicion! In the low-margin grocery business, it would be a pretty effective way for a manager to pump up his short-term profits, while the long-term harm to the store’s reputation would be hard for the corporate office to quantify.
He notes this is a case where "in the name of free markets, advocates of congestion tolling are advocating the use of a market mechanism that private firms in actual competitive markets rarely use." Avent counters.