"I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!"
That quote from Howard Beale (character in Network, 1976 movie) sums me up right about now. And it's probably just the straw that broke the camel's back, because it's not really a big deal on it's own. But over the past few months, several of the grocery stores I visit have started seriously inflating the prices of various foods before putting them on sale. And I'm sick of it.
Most recently the culprit was my local Safeway. I like a can of soda now and then and I usually stock up when I see a deal, like 30% off or BOGO. Well, I popped into Safeway and was greeted with a huge display of 12-pack sodas from both Coke and Pepsi, with the massive sign above them reading "Buy 2, get 1 free." I know a deal when I see one, so I loaded 3 of the 12-packs into my cart and went to check out.
The check out guy rang them up and then I saw the total...it was a few pennies shy of $12. "Hang on," I said in my most stern British accent (sometimes it helps) "these sodas are buy 2, get 1 free. That should be about $8."
"Nope, the before sale price for each 12-pack is $5.69" he said with an "I couldn't care less" smile. "Oh, really?" I said and paid the bill. Then, when I got home, I looked at my receipt from the last time I went shopping at Safeway some 5 days earlier. The price for a 12-pack was $3.99. So, in less than a week they had shot up by around $1.70. That didn't see right, but maybe there was a huge soda shortage or something. I called Alberstons and King Soopers, their 12 packs were still $3.99. I felt annoyed. Really annoyed. Livid, in fact.
Safeway was basically doing something that I personally believe to be completely underhanded. They are massively inflating the before sale price in the hopes of making you think you're getting a stellar deal. "Wow, I just saved a bunch of cash" you're thinking. But in actuality you've saved almost nothing and bought more product than you would have done if the sale wasn't there.
A day later, I looked around several grocery stores at the BOGO deals and sale goods. It was happening everywhere. Cans of tuna where up in price but on sale. The same went for detergent, bread, even contact lens solution. And it just made me boil over. Most consumers don't really pay attention to the prices, they just look for the deals. In this case, the deals (including those nasty 10 for $10 bulk-buy rip-offs) are not deals at all. The stores have simply done a little dollar-cost averaging and played with the numbers so that deals equate to the same price before the sale.
Well, I don't know about you but I'm sick of it. And I'm sure many of you are, too. So I propose we all do something about it, starting with me. I have a camera-phone and I'll be carrying it with me everywhere. When I see a deal, I'll take snapshot. If the "before price" looks suspicious, I'll compare it to the price of the product when it comes off sale. And over the next few months, I'll keep a detailed log. I'm out to prove once and for all that we're being manipulated like pawns in chess by the billion-dollar grocery chains.
Now, who's with me? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?