Price Discrimination? Racial Discrimination?

From a reader named Philip Mulder comes this photograph:

Philip says this is a hair-cutting joint in Washington, D.C. As you can see, it offers a 50% discount if your name is — in this case — Amanda, Rachel, Katie, Peter, Andrew, or David. I don’t have my master database of black-white names handy (hey, it’s summer), but I’m pretty sure that at least five out of those six skew pretty white. So, a couple of questions:

+ What names do you think will be featured the following week?

+ Could this price-discriminating advertisement in fact be construed as racial discrimination? If there’s a plausible argument to be made that tipping should be outlawed because blacks systematically earn less than whites, might some legal wizard — armed with black-white names data — see this sign as a discriminatory discount?  

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  1. Jack R says:

    I visited a bar in Denver that has a promotion like this. Everyday they have 3 names that drink free for the day (I think just rail drinks at least). However, the names are determined by a drawing. People write their name and submit it and the bar draws three everyday. Perhaps this hair place does the same.

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    • Bch says:

      I am physically sickened by this article. This is race-baiting nonsense. This is NOT a “hair cutting joint”, it is a tanning salon called Fit to be Tan! Not only did the author not check on an easily checkable fact, but the writer intentionally lied just to get people worked up with a meaningless discussion on race. . Obviously a tanning salon is, and should, be allowed to focus their specials on “white” names without being considered racist.

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  2. Troy says:

    I am black and I know black people with every name on that list. Grow up.

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    • Matt says:

      Which proves nothing. The wording above was “skew pretty white,” not “are exclusively white”.

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    • RandomJokester says:

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    • Jeet Ghorpade says:

      It’s not just blacks that would be affected by the racial discrimination… Even though this is a harmless, somewhat fun business strategy to bring in customers, I sort of feel price discriminated against because I’m sure I’ll never see my name up on that list. I’m Indian. But even so, I’m sure they use names that are already in their client database.

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  3. Barman says:

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    • Enter your name... says:

      The restaurant doesn’t get more money when the tips are higher. Tips go to the employees, not the restaurants.

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      • Geoff says:

        Technically, a restaurant does get more money when the tips are higher. If the value of a waiter’s tips don’t bring his compensation up to minimum wage then the restaurant has to cover the difference. So the restaurant keeps more profit when tips cover enough of the waiter’s salary to protect the restaurant from minimum wage.

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  4. Steve says:

    Last time I checked, a name is not a race. Stop racially charging everything. This business did not give people their names. They’re trying to promote in a unique way.

    Plus, it’s not hard to imagine that there are differences in hair texture and styling between white and black people. Who owns the joint? What kind of experience do they have with styling hair? Maybe they’re advertising to their strengths and away from their weaknesses.

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  5. Alvaro says:

    Even if you could, why would you want to call racism on this? You would just ruin the party to those who would have gotten the discount. (They’re not going to halve their prices just like that)

    And maybe, I dont know… they have a right to discriminate? Seeing how it’s their business and all….

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  6. MRB says:

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  7. Nil says:

    Almost all hair-cutting joints tend to specialize by race. Barbershops and salons are possibly even more self segregating than churches.

    Whomever wrote this sign is probably also wasting space by advertising 3 female & 3 male names. The majority of hair salons outside of the big chains also tend to specialize by sex nearly as much as race/ethnicity and it would be rare to see a shop with a clientele with anything close to a 50/50 sex ratio.

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    • bob says:

      And that just reflects the real differences in hair between sex/race. I guess biology is racist then?

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      • sam says:

        the color of your skin has no correlation with your hair type/texture. You can be white with naturally course, curly hair (ie. jewfros) and you can be black with naturally straight hair (the Oguejiofo Annu people). Same with gender. Male or female, you can have any type of hair… look, I know this may be hard to believe, but race and gender are societal constructs my friend.

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  8. Reggie says:

    It’s also a hair place. They likely discriminate racially anyway…

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