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Hospitals Are Using Scare and Loss-leader Tactics

By       Message Sandy Sand     Permalink
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Businesses, especially super markets, are notorious for using loss-leaders to draw us into the store to get a bargain or two, knowing that we’ll buy enough stuff to more than make up for what they lost on selling a few cases of mayo or canned beans at a slight loss.

Now hospitals in the Los Angeles area are doing the same thing, only they’re adding scare tactics to the loss-leader ploy.

Here’s how a radio ad from Crooker & Snooker Memorial Hospital goes: Do you know that one out of three women, age 24 and older will die of heart disease?

You didn’t really think I’d use the hospital's real name and be open for a libel suit that would give me heart failure, did ya?

Of course, they deliberately neglect to mention that for most women (men, too) that won’t happen for years and years.

Now that these snake oil salesmen have gotten your attention and scared the crap out of you, the ad continues: Step right up ladies and get your bargain red-blooded, American heart screening for only $55. That’s right, ladies. A paltry $55. Just 55 slim, trim one dollar bills. It’s an offer you can’t afford to pass up.

Hurry ladies! This is a limited time offer. Get you cardiogram while supplies last and we still have large quantities of print-out tape in stock.

So you’re scared, because migawd, you might…might have a little heart trouble at age 50, 60, 70, 80, 90 or never. You might be hit by a bus first, but then they can sell you a test for that.

The scare tactic worked. You’ve called the convenient, toll-free number 1-800-IMMINANT-HEART-ATTACK, and made your bargain basement appointment for a week from Friday, which by chance, is the 13th.

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A great omen for them, because once you have that simple little test, the loss-leader kicks in.

The results are in, and just like you go through the super market checkout line with two jars of cut-rate mayo to go with $259.67 worth of high-priced groceries, the hospital will sock it to you.

“This test came out pretty good,” they will tell you, but…”

Are you ready for this?

“We think…just to be on the safe side,” they will continue, “we need to sell you a few more tests, their exercise and heart-healthy cooking classes and enough vitamins to choke a giraffe for a mere ten grand.

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Loss-leader worked!

They made you an offer you couldn’t refuse, and that bargain only cost you $10,055.


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Sandy Sand began her writing career while raising three children and doing public relations work for Women's American ORT (Organization for Rehabilitation through Training). That led to a job as a reporter for the San Fernando Valley Chronicle, a (more...)

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