Someone’s Trolling T. Rowe Price…

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vanguard at-cost cafe

If you were downtown earlier this week, you may have noticed a bright red food truck. Don’t get your hopes up: It’s not the mobile taco truck you’ve been dreaming of. Instead, it was an elaborate promotional campaign by mutual fund company Vanguard. And it hardly seems like a coincidence that it was parked a short walk away from T. Rowe Price’s headquarters.

The “At-Cost Cafe” was intended to promote Vanguard’s low fees. The coffees on the menu included a mutual fund blend, an ETF roast, and an IRA blend for 26 cents each. That may seem random, but there’s actually a logic behind it; the industry average for a cup of coffee is $1.48, and according to Vanguard, their average expense ratio is 20 percent of industry averages… so they priced their coffee at a similar discount. “We’re trying to spread the word that cost matters, not just in choosing coffee, but in your portfolio,” Vanguard spokeswoman Katie Henderson told the Baltimore Business Journal.

Henderson wouldn’t admit to the BBJ that Vanguard had purposely chosen to put its truck very close to T. Rowe HQ– the company just looked for cities with lots of foot traffic, she said. Uh-huh.

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