Charging more to pay less


I donít get it.

Well, thatís not true. I do get it. I just donít like it.

Terry and I were out running some errands today, and we were in a store that routinely has about a quarter of its inventory available as part of the current-offer-for-whatever-day-it-is 50% off sale.

That is not an exaggeration. Half price for a huge portion of the overall products available, in the store and likely online.

The sale rotates a bit. These items this week, those items next week, and some items when the holidays and seasons change. But eventually, just about everything except batteries and some brand name product lines will be included.

Let me bring you in on a little secret though. The items that are available at 50%-off or included in the 25%-off any regular price items coupon? They tend to be so costly at the regular price point that there is no way you would ever buy them without the sale.

This isnít a candy bar for two dollars, or buy two candy bars for three dollars kind of thing. This is more of a candy bar for fifteen dollars, or this week get two for five dollars. Who is buying, even on impulse, a fifteen-dollar candy bar?

Never mind the expensive chocolate. What Iím saying is that the regular price in this store usually isnít a true price. Itís a misleading label designed to get you to believe that youíre getting a great deal from the sale, when in reality the sale is just bringing the price down to what you would have expected it to cost all along.

And that ticks me off.

I donít like to wade deeply into negotiations. Tell us what youíll pay, weíll make a counter offer, we can meet at some point in between (and donít forget to pick up the added protection service plan). In some cases, I know to expect this approach, and I can haggle. But Iíd much rather you tell me what it costs and Iíll decide whether or not Iím willing to pay that price.

But thatís where the problem resides.

See, if they tell me what it actually costs, then I can start comparison shopping. I can go to another store to see what they offer. I can do some research online. Heck, I can probably even order it for less on the web, get free shipping included, and have it brought to my door. Thereís some convenience in that process.

I also tend to be a tangible shopper, where seeing and looking over an object means a lot to me. You can never tell if clothing size is running smaller or larger than you expect on your computer screen, nor does the fabric quality readily make itself known in the cyber world.

So, I like going to the store. I like seeing things in person. And it feels like no one wants to make my part in the purchase easy.

Thereís a reason different chain stores carry different name brands of manufacturers, or, carry different models of products. And, regardless of the specific sales pitch or technique, all of the factors and business plans can be found on display in the 50%-off sale and discounted-from-regular-price item coupon. They donít expect me to shell out the high price. They just want me to be satisfied with the price I paid.

Itís a mind game. And I think the thing that annoys me isnít that it is a mind game, itís that many businesses today arenít even interested in getting me to return.

I used to know the names of the folks making food for my family at local restaurants. The specialty stores, like hardware supplies, could be trusted to carry the parts I needed to keep the equipment they sold me operating. Experiences like that are becoming less and less common.

And Iím left checking things out online or on the storeís app, looking to time my shopping run to best match up with the sale dates. I suppose thatís better than paying full price, but itís not as satisfying as being valued as a customer.


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