Friday, January 6, 2012

Food Essay Friday: Watch Your Checkers, A Conspiracy Theory

You weren't expecting something intellectual for your first Food Essay Friday? Were you? Because I have to tell you that my intellectual state is such that I started this essay on a Thursday that I thought was Friday because, well, that's how my brain rolls. Or, well, sometimes doesn't.

On Thursday Kip and I went on a lovely morning date. One of the advantages of having a husband who works odd hours is that you can use other odd hours to do things. We went ice skating (there were only 4 other people on the rink), which we haven't done since the dating years. Sigh. And then we did errands (duh, we're married people, remember).

We went to Walmart, Target, and Menards (a home store like Lowe's/Home Depot). At Walmart we were overcharged $.30 on some muffin liners. At Target we were almost overcharged $7 on a pot. At Menards we were almost overcharged $10 on a new thermostat. Three for three.

At Walmart, I believe the muffin liners were mis-racked and $.30 wasn't worth torturing our elderly checker.

At Target, there was only one pan left and a big yellow sign that said, "Clearance, Save $7." When it rang through at full price, I thought, "So, have all the other pans run up wrong also?" It seems that they must have.

At Menards, the thermostat was marked at $24.77 on a label that didn't look to be a sale price, and rang up at a mysterious $34.00.

All in all, if we hadn't caught and commented on the 2 biggest mistakes we would have been overcharged by $17.00 ($18.19 with tax).

All in all, we purchased a total of 10 items, and 3 rang up wrong. That's a 30% rate of mis-done sku-age.

All in all, we spent close to $200. The extra $18 would have added 8% to our bill.

Think of the implications. If this happened at every shopping trip (and for all I know it does because I almost always shop with my children who I am inevitably trying to keep from shoplifting all the candy and gadgets that will fit into their chubby hands instead of vigilantly watching my checkers as I was today). If you've budgeted your food for $400/month (a low estimate by most people's standards) and you spend 8% of it in badly skewed goods, that's $32/month you've overspent. Over the course of the year, that's going to come to $384, which is a little hefty for a tightly budgeted family. It could mean the difference between a vacation and no vacation for us.

Are the stores to blame? Well, heck yeah they are. But are they doing it on purpose? (You were wondering where the conspiracy theory part came in, right?) Are they marking things as sale items and then purposefully not changing the sku's. I doubt it (although if you love a good conspiracy theory, you can believe that they are; I won't stop you; they do, after all, position all that candy where little hands are able to reach it--I know I don't do that in my house...). Whatever you believe, I think it's clear that stores don't appear to care about being very careful, especially with their sale sku's. Which is why you have to.

Moral of the story: Watch your checkers, shoplifting wannabe children be darned (though good heavens don't lose track of your children in Walmart, okay). I know it's not the checkers' fault stuff is ringing up wrong. Though the near eye rolls they give you when you call them on something that rang up $10 too high, I could do without.


  1. I was at Walmart a few times this week, and on my last trip I was near the toy section and they had clearance stuff out in the middle of the big aisle. There were some Model Magic (my favorite clay-like substance since it isn't messy... at all) kits on clearance. The sign said $7.50, regular price $24.95. Wow, a great clearance. I got two (for future birthday gifts), and carefully watched the price as it rang up since I only got them because they were on sale. They did come up as $7.50, but when I looked at the receipt it said the regular price was $15. It's still a really good sale, but was someone just making up a regular price on the sign??
    I'm horrible at knowing what prices are on most things, and I really should pay more attention! I sent Pete to Schnuck's one time to get a bottle of ranch dressing. He thought the price, $4.88, seemed expensive. I thought it was too, but I wasn't sure by how much. The next time I went to Walmart, I was floored when I realized it was $2 cheaper at Walmart. I can't afford to shop at Schnuck's except for the occasional emergency item... or something on sale.

  2. I know. I only shop at Schnucks when we need something quick or weird (they are pretty good at carrying unusual items).

  3. You are so right. I've always been a stay at home Mom, I consider it part of my 'job'. Shop sales, price compare and watch the checker!



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