Saturday, April 11, 2009

Six cents sense

How should a shopper respond when faced with this dilemma? Exhibit A (top), which was close to eye level on the store shelf, followed by Exhibit B (bottom), which was on the bottom shelf, practically behind a standing display rack. This was at the Bravo Supermarket in Astoria on Friday.
As you can see, these are the exact same items, same flavors, same size packages, same sugar-free variety. But one is 6 cents cheaper. Naturally, I want the one that's 6 cents cheaper. A nearby clerk looks at the shelves when I ask him about it. At first he's confused, thinking they are different items. He finally understands that they're the same, so he takes them up to the front to check for me.

(Right off the bat this store got one point for this. At my neighborhood Keyfood, they would NEVER go up to the front themselves. They would give you a dirty look for interrupting them and snap, "You gotta go ask up front!")

What I hate about these situations is that, when there's a price discrepancy, it ALWAYS seems to go in the store's favor these days? I don't want to fight about 6 cents, but then I start to feel annoyed. I especially want to argue when I think that maybe the placement was deliberate. (Is this a sign that I've been reading The Consumerist too much?) The higher-priced package seems tucked away while the 89-cent box is next to another brand that's 99 cents. People WILL buy more boxes if they think they're saving 10 cents.

The stocker came back down the aisle and told me that the pudding was 95 cents. I KNEW it! They NEVER rule in the customer's favor. "But the label says '89 cents,'" I protested. He couldn't help me; he was a stocking clerk. I walked to the front and calmly stated my case. The lady at the customer service desk went to check out the shelves, came back and ... agreed I should have the puddings at 89 cents.

Wha ... what? What was that I just heard? Uh ... I win this time? Whoa. This was simply unfathomable. After thanking her, I quickly grabbed my few last remaining items and rushed through the checkout before someone called me back and vetoed her decision.

I'm not sure if it's visible in the photo, but upon closer examination later, I found that the lower-priced label bore a 2006 date. I did not see this when in the store. The other one is dated 2009. The price should have been 95 cents ... and the label should have been accurate.

Now, the reality is that I HATE having confrontations and I left the store with a very heightened sense of anxiety. It wasn't much of a confrontation, I'll admit, and there was no one to point fingers at. But I was anxious all the same. Why can't things go the way I want them to go, the way I think they SHOULD go; something like this:

Me: "Excuse me, sir? This pudding has two different prices."
Clerk: "Hm. Oh, you're right. Sorry, Ma'am. Someone must have forgotten to change that tag. But as you know, our store policy is to give the customer the lower price in a case like this. Enjoy!"
Me: Thank you.
Clerk: No problem. Thank you for shopping at Bravo!

It NEVER goes like that. I have to fight, and usually I lose; there's no convincing a manager sometimes. Usually they are underpaid schmucks who could care less. SOMETIMES, rarely, I win. But even then it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I walk away sheepishly, wondering why I was arguing over 6 cents. It's the "principle" of the whole thing, I say to myself. I'm screwing myself if I don't speak up! True? Possibly? Who knows. I COULD let it go. Yeah, I'll think about that, next time...


Anonymous said...

these issues seem small, Sandy..until you string enough of them back to back and, before you know it, you have a suckjob day! I am at grocery stores DAILY for my clients, and these things happen SO often it is like a mini-conspiracy..meant to unravel your box of pudding at a time...
Keep fighting the good fight! :-) Lisa

Ms. Cassandra (Sandy) Park said...

I complained to the manager at Keyfood about it being practically impossible to figure out a price at all, with all the mislabeling. He simply sighed, said I was the third person to complain that weekend, and that the night crew simply couldn't be relied upon to place products with correct labels or vice versa. Strange.

Dayzee said...

Conspiracy. I knew it! Dontcha just long for the good ol' days when "the customer was always right"?...

LauraT said...

An online pal of mine at another website had a dilemma about service, coupons and a manager who couldn't do math. He had a coupon for x dollars off of a purchase. This was at Petsmart. His purchase should have come to 35 bucks. The clerk rang it up as 15 bucks. Pal asks clerk if she was sure. Why, well, yes, as that is what the comptuer says. Pal asks clerk to call over the manager. Manager comes over. Pal tries to explain the coupon math and what the price should be. Manager agrees with clerk. Pal sheepishly leaves with cheap dog food.

He is pulling out of the lot and in the rear view mirror he sees the manager scanning the parking lot, (presumably) for him.

The thing is, Pal felt kind of guilty about this. The response was "dude, you called out two people on this. they wanted you to have cheap dog food"

My peeve these days is seeing bad customer service/bad customers these days. I swear I need to walk to another line.

Anonymous said...

I would have just taken the ones marked 89 cents to the register.

I once had an amazing positive shocker at Stop & Shop. I was buying pistachio nuts -- a 2 lb. bag. The price was $8.99 -- it rang $9.99. I of course told the cashier that it rang up wrong. it caused this whole checking thing. I said, "Just take off the dollar." She said, "No no, you get it for free because it rang up wrong. That's our policy." God, I LOVED that.

Now Stop & Shop has these personal scanners, and you walk around the store with this scanner. You pick up your item, scan the bar code and put it in a bag in your cart. If you don't like the price, you push the remove button and off the list it goes. Then you go to the cash register and scan the scanner into the scanner (got that?), and your whole receipt comes up in one shot. IT IS SO MUCH FUN!!!!