If a Sign is Needed, Something is Wrong.

In his Roads Gone Wild article for Wired, Tom McNicol describes a new mentality in traffic control: fewer signs = fewer accidents.

From this perspective, traffic control signs are actually a poor band-aid for an unsafe environment. At best, they keep accident rates constant, at worst they actually cause more.

This phenomenon is not unique to traffic. It’s rampant in the retail and hospitality industries also.

    Examples:

  • Video games have the potential for high shrinkage. Target puts them behind lock and key. Target doesn’t fully staff their electronics/video game department. Far fewer games are shoplifted, and far fewer games are sold. How do they sell more games? Maybe the real question is: Which is more expensive, shrinkage or staff?
  • Like all good hotels, The Grand Hotel in Minneapolis offers robes, towels, and refreshments to its guest. They also charge quite a bit for the convenience as illustrated by this camera phone photo:
    Are You Kidding? $9...The hanging tag on a bottle of Evian at the Grand Hotel in Minneapolis.
    Similarily, the tag on the robe says if you take it, you’ll be charged $99. Now. aside from the fact both these items should come out of the marketing budget, the signage is displayed in a very “We don’t really want to sell this.” manner. For a $100+/night hotel room, I would expect complementary $1/liter bottled water. Perhaps the Grand hasn’t reviewed Yours is a Very Bad Hotel in a while.

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