Deception At The Supermarket – Tricks They Do At Grocery Stores

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guy-in-a-grocery-storeMy dad had an old saying that I find is true in many circumstances:  “They always ‘get you’ in the drive-thru.”

Whenever he said that, he was specifically referring to fast food restaurants’ drive-thru window where you would order, pick up your food, then often find an item missing when you got home.

In reality, this type of scenario shows up in many other places, as well.  In effect, any time you are in hurry, or not paying attention, then you are likely to be cheated on something.

This past month or so, I have noticed a lot more “drive-thru” moments.

Trickery Example #1

A few days ago, I noticed a wall of cereal at the supermarket.

Glancing at the wall, it seemed that all of the cereal was being sold at a price of 2 boxes for $4.

In the middle of this display was Frosted Flakes, so I grabbed a box.  Upon grabbing the box, I realized there was a 75-cent coupon on the box, so I grabbed 3 more boxes.  In my estimation, I was getting the boxes of cereal for only $1.25 each.

I only purchased a few items so I was shocked when my bill was almost $10 more than I expected!

The cashier completely ignored my comments, and asked for my payment.  I paid and then read my receipt .  It showed the boxes of Frosted Flakes costing $3.99 apiece.  That was a whole $2.00 more than I expected.

I took my receipt back over to the wall of cereal and saw what was cleverly concealed in plain site.  All of the cereals except the Frosted Flakes were 2 boxes for $4.  The Frosted Flakes were $3.99 apiece.  I considered returning all but one box of cereal, but I reasoned that for such large boxes, it was still a good deal, especially with the coupon.  So I begrudgedly kept the boxes of Frosted Flakes.

Trickery Example #2

Then, a few days later when was shopping at a completely different store, I noticed an end cap filled with ketchup bottles.

There was one size of ketchup in the middle surrounded by another size of ketchup in a different kind of bottle prominantely displayed all around it.  There was one sign in the middle of this display, which said the ketchup was $1.70 for 24 ounces.

I thought the setup was peculiar so I took a closer look.  Only the ketchup bottles in the center were on sale.  The items on sale only took up about ¼ of the entire display, yet there was only one sign.  This made it easy for someone in a hurry to grab the wrong bottle and end up paying more.

It’s Not Just Your ImaginationI’m not alone in these observations.  AOL Money & Finance talks about the Top 5 Sneaky Supermarket Tricks.  From tempting us with impulse items… to end aisle deception… to fresh baked goods… it is important to resist these temptations if you want to save money on groceries.

I suspect that these issues are because U.S. retail sales have dropped for the 3rd month (out of 5 months).  Watching workers in a supermarket these days is very much like watching ants at work.  Workers are constantly moving, shifting, and labeling items on shelves in an effort to keep shoppers guessing and in the store as long as possible.  Placing non-sale items right next to sale items is just part of the game.

What To Look For

Besides stopping to read the labels on the items you purchase — and looking at the SKU number on the sales items and checking the package size — here are some of the other things you should be doing each time you go to the grocery store: