In last night’s Big Brother, two of the housemates, Kenny and Siavash, were put through a “wealth” test. It involved correctly naming the prices of various objects from a pint of milk to a top end Ferrari.
Yet for me the entire premise was fundamentally flawed (I know it’s Big Brother so I’m not taking it too seriously), much like the 1980s and 90s television programme “The Price is Right”.
To prove my point let me ask you a question..
“How much does a pint of milk cost?”
HIGHLIGHT THE SECTION BELOW AFTER YOU’VE ANSWERED IN YOUR HEAD…
If you answered numerically somewhere between 40p and 80p you’re in the right ballpark – but still in my view totally wrong.
The only real way to answer this is with another set of questions “where is this pint of milk bought from, and is it a particular brand?”
We do not live in a world where a pint of milk is homogenous: there are different brands of milk and even they are sold at different prices in different stores. A pint in a huge Tesco is likely to be substantially cheaper than at a train station convenience store.
In many ways ignoring that ignores the entire premise of this site and the values of many of its users. We live in a world of commodities, where the same or very similar goods are sold in many places dressed up in many different ways for vastly differing prices – the aim of MoneySaving is to buy the same thing but pay less for it.
It’s a shame, especially considering the audience that Big Brother reaches, that this was missed (though I’m not saying that’s their remit): a real test of wealth would have been able to spot the difference in prices and which is the best bargain, not just knowing the absolute price of things.
Now admittedly when I started watching the quiz, my assumption was that it had been missed due to what TV regulatory rules call “undue prominence”. That means unless there is a justifiable reason you shouldn’t focus on any one store or product.
Yet I was later surprised when one of the questions asked what the cost of a loaf of Warburton’s bread was. My suspicion here the programme’s lawyers felt it was justified to name a particular brand of bread, because otherwise the variance in price would have been too great, therefore this was necessary and thus due prominence (though where you buy it counts here too).
Yet in my view the difference in cost of a pint of milk at various stores would have made it equally as justifiable to specify that in the question too.
Could it be the reason this was missed is the message “it’s not just what you buy, it’s where you buy it” still hasn’t spread widely enough?
PS. I think Siavash is going to win this year!