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Archive for September, 2007

Supermarket pricing errors

Posted by bitguru on September 10, 2007

I bought some garbage bags at the supermarket today. They were supposed to be on sale for $4.19 but they rang up for the regular price of $4.69. I’m the type that watches the prices as they ring up, so I usually catch this kind of mistake. I’d say I encounter approximately 25 of them a year.

Often what happens is the sale has ended but they forgot to remove the sale tag from the shelf. I feel I’m still entitled to the sale price in these cases–I shouldn’t be expected to examine the dates on all the sale tags. That’s not what happened today, though. The $4.19 price is valid through October 14.

Way back when supermarket barcode scanners were new (yes kids, before then there were price tags on each and every item) the typical store policy was that a pricing mistake entitled you to one of that item for free. I don’t know if that’s still the official policy, but it hasn’t worked that way for years. Now you just get the price difference, and only if you’re willing to wait for it.

I knew that to get the correct price for my trash bags it was going to take way more than 50ยข of my time. I had to wait for my turn to talk to someone, wait for someone to walk to the isle and verify the price, demonstrate the incorrect price on my receipt (often they are slow to believe, which can be vexing), and then wait for the coins. I’m too stubborn for my own good, though, so I always stick it out for the refund. Not only are they overcharging me but everyone else who buys that item, and I don’t like it

Today they opened a cash drawer and pulled out two quarters without typing any numbers on the keypad or logging anything. This is how they do it more often then not, but it’s not the correct way because it doesn’t refund the excess sales tax I paid. It’s really not worth my time to argue for a few extra cents, so I let that go. I’m stubborn but not that stubborn.


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