For as long as I can remember it’s been a habit to review my grocery store receipt before leaving the store. I don’t catch everything, but most of the time I catch mistakes that they’ve made. With everything being electronic, and automatic, now there are supposed to not be mistakes. Yet, I’ve noticed small errors on my receipts from time to time. It’s usually an advertised sale price that doesn’t ring up right; or at all. I then have to go to customer service and get them to adjust the receipt. Sometimes I’ve noticed that the cashier has run up one item twice. Or as they rang up fruits or vegetables they let their hand remain on the bag and added weight to the item. Lately, I’ve been noticing something else entirely. In the advertisement in the paper the sale will state one thing, but in the store and at the cash register its a slightly different story. They’ve also changed the definitions and how they apply coupons.
For example; in the weekly advertisement there was ice cream on sale. It was a buy two get two free deal, with a limit of eight. Normally that limit has been a limit of eight per transaction. Meaning that if I got eight today, I could go back tomorrow and get another eight and have the deal apply. Because the total of eight is the only limit mentioned in the advertisement. This particular deal didn’t have to be added first to my card. It was just listed as a member special. So, the account was needed to get the advertised price.
Yet; it’s only when I went and purchased my ice cream that a new definition of “limit of eight” appeared. When I’m in a store I’m in a hurry and I rely on the information in the weekly advertisements, and in the digital coupons; to be accurate. I don’t have time to stand there, get out a magnifier, and read the fine print on the coupon on the shelf under the item. I’ve found that most of the time I can’t rely on them all the time either. A perfect example of that is on one item I recently purchased, the sticker stated that the sale price ended at the end of December. Yet, it still rings up at that sale price. Or, there was the time when the sale price listed on the display said one thing and the cashier laughed and said “no, it rang up right, I don’t care what it said on the sign. That’s wrong, the computer is right.”
So, I was at the store and grabbed four ice cream. They didn’t have any more of the flavor I wanted and I had to stop back by later on. So, because it said, “limit eight”; and in the past that’s always been a limit of eight per transaction, I believed that I could pick up eight containers and expected the sale price to apply in full.
Did the computer system didn’t allow me to get the full deal? Nope. It gave me the “buy two get two free” on four of the eight containers. Not the other four. Each container of ice cream costs $5.99. I should have been charged $23.96 for the eight containers. That would be buying four and getting four free. Instead, it charged me for six containers and gave me two free with the bill being $35.94.
I figured that what they did was program the computer to allow the sale price to apply only to the first eight used on the card. So, if a member bought four one day and got the sale price on that transaction; in the next transaction they’d only get the sale price on the next four. Which is what in fact happened. However, that’s not what it said in the paper, or on the electronic application. As I mentioned, when I’m in a store I’m in a hurry to get in and out. I don’t have time to stand and investigate the tiny print on every sign. When I’ve come to expect a limit of eight to mean its a limit of eight per transaction; that’s what I expect to happen. Yet, that definition appears to have changed. Sometimes I’ve seen in tiny print, needing a magnifier to read, on the sign near the item in the store; “one time use”. I’ve only recently noticed on a few signs when a sale price doesn’t need a coupon that it applies “once per household.” I don’t recall seeing that limitation before.
It’s not only on ice cream. A few weeks ago the same store had grapes on sale. In the paper it listed out the sale price, said it was a special member deal with a downloaded coupon, and made no mention of a limit or it being a single use transaction sale. Only, it turned out to be a single use transaction sale price; a fact I only found out when I went to buy another small bag of grapes. The other thing that I’ve noticed is that stores are having a lot of sale prices that only apply if I purchase five items. If I want to get the super sale price on one bag of potato chips, I have to buy five of them. Most of the time its the chips, crackers, and cookies that these deals apply too. It’s rare that it applies to the frozen dinner meals, fruits, vegetables, dairy, and meat. The healthier things that people should be eating rather than the heavily processed foods.
To me it seems like every time I go to the grocery store the prices are higher than the last time. It’s incredibly scary to see that happen and wonder when I’ll go and not be able to afford even the basic staples. I look at the prices and I want to stock up when things are on sale. I want that good deal because like millions of people I live on a budget. I’m getting used to having to triple check sale prices now. I have to pay close attention to the screen as the cashier checks me out; in hopes that I can catch the issues before I pay. Especially if I have to go through U Scan. But I shouldn’t have to watch that close to keep the stores honest. I shouldn’t have to watch the coupons and receipts as close as I do. I shouldn’t need to do the math to make sure that I get the advertised sale.
I understand how supply and demand can push up the price of goods.
I also understand greed.
The store in question in 2021 made $71.9 billion in profit.
That’s billions in profits for their upper management, board of directors, and stock holders. That $71.9 billion in profits is with all the theft they write off as a loss. At my local store they let homeless people fill up carts full, and run out of the store and don’t do anything. I’ve had more than one store employee tell me that there isn’t anything they can or will do. Except for corporate to raise prices higher to make up for it; so they can keep their profits at $71.9 billion each year. And two of the biggest grocery stores want to merge. They somehow had $24.6 billion dollars laying around to buy the other one. The same store paid a $4 billion dollar dividend in Jan 2023 to their shareholders.
But they couldn’t do anything about lowering prices in their stores for hard working Americans, and the elderly. Those same people who struggle every month to afford rent, gas, groceries, and their medications.