Saturday, May 14, 2011

Let the Buyer Beware

Good things can be used to cloak sneaky practices. So be on the alert when you shop.

Buy One, Get One. Inflated prices can make this deal no real deal. Check out generics or coupons or another store on similar items. If you keep a price book, all the better, as you really know when the deal is an honest one.

Free with shipping and handling. Like when I took advantage of redeemed “points” from a credit card to get “free” small light weight stocking stuffers that ended up costing me $4.99 S&H a pop. Totally not worth it. If they don’t clearly list the S&H, watch your wallet.

After rebate pricing. Some rebates are nearly impossible to collect on. Complex procedures, tight deadlines, small print, all lower your chances of actually getting the cost break. Also beware of getting a “gift card” or “debit card” rebate with short expiration dates instead of actual cash. Will you actually use it?

Pricing with a “99 cent” suffix. Zeros scare us. That 99 cents on the end makes us think we’re getting a better deal.

The package looks the same but the contents shrink. 16.9 oz. peanut butter, 1.5 quart ice cream, 5 oz. tuna all show creeping inflationary pricing.

Adding an ingredient to a soon to expire patented name brand medication, renaming it, and continuing to charge high prices. All the while a generic of the original is considerably cheaper.

Buyer’s reward cards. Giving you 10 cents off per gallon of gas when you buy $100 worth of stuff is not a good deal. So if your tank holds 16 gallons you save $1.60. Big whoop. Our huge chain grocer does this trick and their prices are consistently higher than the local mom and pop chain.

And one of my personal least favorites. A coupon for $1 off 2 or 3 which when calculated, still doesn’t bring the price down to anything comparable.

The sad thing is people fall for these tricks all the time. Don’t be one of them.

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