Thursday, August 21, 2008

Fake Savings and Tricky Pricing

My friends know that I hate stores that have fake savings cards.  Whatever name they go by, they are the free card you are to use when you make your purchase.  Stores use this to track your spending habits and the general spending habits of the store.  The information is also sold to direct marketing companies.  For example, if 1000 people in one ZIP code buy gigantic bags of dog food each week, the area is a good candidate for mailbox spam for dog houses or TV and radio commercials for 1-800-PET-MEDS.

I don't really care that stores track and analyze the buying habits of their consumers.  What bothers me is when these systems are presented as savings programs.  With the card, you get special pricing.  Total crap.  Regular prices are inflated.  The card price would be the normal shelf price if the card system were never implemented anyway.  They are not voluntary systems.  I could go on, but I recommend you visit Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering.

Sadly, it's become very difficult across the United States to do ordinary grocery shopping at a non-card store.  In Hawai'i, Safeway is a dominant store and the nice one closest to us.  I've learned that you have to be careful when shopping there.  It's not sufficient to just go by the card price.  If the card price is X for a certain price, you have to buy X in order to get the card price.  When I lived in Georgia, Publix had the practice of dividing the price by X and making that the new per unit price.  Not so at Safeway.  And Safeway has stupid pricing promotions.  Twelves boxes of macaroni and cheese for $10 or something.  OK, fine, but now I have to buy 12.  What if I only want 11?  Too bad, you're paying the non-card per unit price.

I went to the store tonight to pick up some lunch stuff, breakfast stuff, and something for us to have for dinner.  There were a few things that I paid the regular unit price on because I didn't want a cabinet full of, say, Rice-a-Roni.

The other thing that's frustrating with the large X value for certain price promotions is that one trip to the store can end up costing hundreds of dollars.  Just tonight I spent $77.18.  The fake savings the card gave me:  $20.74.  So if I didn't have a Safeway card, I would have paid $97.92.  Click here for my transcribed text version of the receipt.  Yes, I was bored.

1 comment:

Camille said...

I miss Publix so much.