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You know that saying "you get what you pay for"? Well, that's not always exactly true. If what you're buying "starts from" a certain amount of money, there are two possibilities:

  • Base Model: It's the most basic, bare-bones edition, the one you shouldn't be buying if you're a self-respecting consumer. If there's a picture, though, you can bet it'll be of the most tricked-out version there is. You don't really want to settle for less, do you?
  • Plus Surcharges: It starts from this price... but it sure doesn't end there. Don't forget to add in taxes, fees, charges, insurance, shipping, handling, delivery and the tip. In extreme cases, these costs are higher than the price of the actual product, but at best they'll be obliquely referred to in eye-straining fine print at the bottom.

Fortunately less of a problem in the UK (and presumably most of Europe) where progressively over the last decade or so legislation has required taxes to be included in advertised prices, including most recently for airfares. Cars are a notable exception where 'Prices start from £XXXX' is still current (with the standard 'model shown is £yyyy' disclaimer).

Again in the UK (sorry) the Advertising Standards Agency required that for any 'starting from' price, at least 10% of all products covered must be available at the price, and judgements consistently chastise advertisers for failing to adequately demonstrate that this is the case.

Examples of Starting From include:

Examples of the "base model" variety


  • Ads for "funeateries" will promote combos—basically prix fixe menus, without pretentious foreign languages—that "start at" a certain price, for the cheapest option for each course (as well as a disclaimer noting certain areas, inevitably including New York City, have a higher starting-from price).
  • Subway and other sub shops offer five dollar foot longs, but only for a limited set of subs that use cheap ingredients. There isn't much in the way of substantial subs that cost just a little more than $5.
    • Subway also has their line up "starting from" 6g of fat, but this is only for a few six-inch subs, and there are virtually no 6-inch subs that have between 6g and 14g of fat.

Real Life

  • Although game consoles have always had accessories (and price packs including those accessories with the console), the current generation of consoles have explicitly named "editions". For example, the Xbox 360 has the "Arcade" and "Elite" versions, and the discontinued "Core" and "Premium"/"Pro" editions. The PlayStation 3 has mutiple models (usually only about two at once), differing primarily by harddrive size, and the Wii... is just the one Wii.
    • The Core And Premium versions of the Xbox 360 are particularly guilty of the trope: The Arcade version is $100 less, but only included at 32Mb memory storage "card", had a wired controller, and did not have digital optical audio. The Elite had a wireless controller, digital optical audio, and a 20Gb detachable hard drive. What's so bad about that? The 20Gb hard drive alone cost $100, and the digital optical audio "conversion kit" would not be released for anothet two years. The Core eventually became known as the "shitty" version, as opposed to the "entry-level" Microsoft was promoting it as.
  • Several long distance coach companies pull the following trick. Prices start from £1 when there are exactly 4 seats (or even just 1) are at that price, the rest are more expensive, possibly even more expensive than non-budget lines. Add a fuel surcharge and you have an example in both of this page's categories.
  • New cars often straddle this trope by having features added by the dealer that you don't really want, but are on every car on the lot. The armrest that gets in the way of 1-2 and 3-4 shifts, the vinyl pinstripes that ruin the car's styling, and so on.

Examples of the "plus surcharges" variety

Real Life

  • Prices for airline fares often don't include taxes and charges, which can be as high or higher than the price of the actual journey. If you've never flown before, seeing the price of your first airline ticket can come as a shock.
  • Fortunately (for the author) in a subversion of this trope, advanced train ticket prices reflect the price a normal customer would pay, whereas this writer has a "16–24 years Railcard" which entitles him to 1/3 off fares, leading to him often paying less than the "starting from" price.
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