WARNING: price delusions ahead!!!!!

Thanksgiving is almost here. The holiday season is in full swing. A week left until Black Friday. As this infamous day draws near, I thought I should tell you about a recent shopping experience at Macys that might make you think twice about shopping during the holidays.

While browsing the store with my husband, I saw a package of Minne Mouse underwear for toddlers. I have a Minnie Mouse obsessed little girl, and I thought she would love it. The sign said it was 50% off, and on the package, printed clearly was $14.98. So naturally I deducted that it was 50% off from $14.98, making it approximately $7.50. To my surprise, when I went to pay for the item, it rang up as $26, and $13 as the final price.
Immediately I pointed out the error to the cashier. He was not familiar with kids clothing so he went to talk to a sales associate in that department. He came back five minutes later and told me that it is exactly that – 50% off from $26. I was flabbergasted. I pointed out the price tag on the ACTUAL package, and said, “Clearly that is $14.98. You can’t deny that. How is it possible that the price can be inflated that much?!?!” He said, “Sorry, you can go talk to someone else in that department.”
This made me absolutely furious. The problem was not the fact that the item was extremely inflated at the expense of the consumer, but the blase attitude of the salesperson. It makes me wonder a few things:
  • How many of the items sold at Macys (or big box stores) have extremely inflated prices? Hundreds? Thousands??
  • Do customers realize this or are they just looking at the store’s signs and being led to believe that it is a good deal when in fact, it is not?
  • Price anchoring (the process of inflating retail prices to the point where the store marks down the item to 50% or more to allude the customer into thinking that it’s a good deal, when the “after-discount” price is actually just the retail price after all) – how prevalent is it? Apparently, it’s not new. Check out this article.
  • This is clearly and blatantly a way for major retail chains to gain profits during the holidays, by playing on customers’ inability to pay attention to small details, overshadowed by their desire to shop for everyone for Christmas, that they don’t realize how much they are truly spending?
While this particular practice makes me angry, what is even more troublesome is the sales associate’s responses. In my particular situation, the associate’s “Sorry not my problem” attitude is really infuriating. It makes me ashamed to say that I once worked for Macys, way back in the day. It’s troubling that for such a large chain that prides itself on quality and aesthetics that they are not training their employees to respond to conflicts in an enthusiastic and helpful manner.
Perhaps because I’ve worked in customer service for a long time, and I’ve worked at places that have high expectations for service that is the reason why this bothers me so much. Whatever happened to the old philosophy, “The customer is always right”? In my case, I was not making things up just to get my way. My husband and I both saw the price tag as $14.98, so to blow it up to $26 and then discount it $13 is beyond the acceptable ethical grounds of retail pricing.
So this holiday season, I’ve had enough of Christmas shopping. I’ve had enough of deceitful practices of major retail chains. I’ve had enough bad customer service. Besides getting a few items for my kids (not from Macys, of course, and mainly because I want them to have a good Christmas), I’m opting to do something else. To go outside. To be with family. To SAVE MONEY. Because the holidays can definitely make you go broke. It can lead you down the road of paying back a year’s worth of purchases plus interest…and for what? For big retail businesses AND credit card companies to make money off you? No thanks.

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