Friday 5 December 2014

Tight Fist Tip #51: Supermarket Multi-buy Scam

Welcome to the first of a 3-part series on efficient shopping at the supermarket.

If you've been to the supermarket lately, you've surely noticed a multitude of so-called "specials": 10/$10.00! 4/$5.00!  For instance, check out the below price tag for avocados at a local Safeway:

Guacamole or Nothing!

This is a ridiculous price tag on many levels, but let's abstract from the "club price" nonsense. The tag says in REALLY BIG letters that the avocados are four for $5, and in really small letters, it "clarifies" that they cost $1.25 each. Based on this, many people dutifully grab 4 four avocados, and then have to make a big bowl of guacamole or risk having their delicious avocados wither and spoil. 

But this crap is all JUST A SCAM. What's the price if you just buy 1 avocado? Well, it's just $1.25. The 4/$5.00 sign is meant to mislead people into thinking they need to buy four to get some kind of special price. (Or if you want to be a bit more charitable towards the supermarket, you could call it a "nudge".) But in any case, it's a scam to try to trick people into buying more stuff. Prominently displaying the unit price would clearly be more useful to shoppers. 

Now, you might notice that in the lower-right corner is a note explaining that the unit price is indeed $1.25. But again, it's unclear to the uninitiated whether this price can only be obtained by buying 4. But the inclusion of the unit price does not give any additional information. Consider the example below, where there is no unit price. 

What the Fuck am I Going to Do with 10 Cans of Sardines?

Again, one can of sardines is just $1.00. The whole 10/10 thing is just some misleading bullshit.

The only time that multi-buys are real is when a price tag says "Buy one, get one Free", "Single Item Costs XX", or something like that. 

Just in case you don't believe me, here is the receipt below from when I bought exactly what I needed: one avocado and one can of sardines. Damn good sandwich.