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Retail Madness Part Two

Web posted on December 15, 2016

A Curmudgeon's View

By Les Enekes

I am sick and tired of stores advertising Buy One Get One, then tell you it is Get One Half Off or some other ridiculous condition. When they say Buy One, Get One, it must mean just that, and be the law of the land. I refuse to buy a promotion that is not a true BOGO. By the way, the get one for 50% off, is really only 25% over the two items. You are being scammed. The marketing people just assume that you won't do the math. One drug store chain is notorious for mixing both the scam and the real BOGO in their ads. You really have to be careful with this company. Read their ads very carefully. Do not ever be taken in by this type of promotion. There are always better legitimate deals out there.

The grocery store experience is getting more unpleasant all the time. Almost all of them have what they refer to as "point of sale devices." I call them aisle blockers, all too often more than one per aisle. There is absolutely no way I will ever buy anything off one of those things. These things should be illegal under fire regulations. In some stores the end caps are extra wide creating a bottleneck at the end of each aisle, this should also be illegal. It's bad enough trying to get two grocery carts by each other in some grocery stores. Ever notice how often they will have stock carts abandoned in the isles at the busiest times? There are never enough cashiers available at peak times, even though they should know better.

One retailer has decided to pre package their hot peppers. I buy my hot peppers and other produce as needed, not in a large package with all the spoiled ones hidden in the bottom. Why else would they do this? In spite of numerous complaints nothing has been done to change this. I no longer buy any produce from that company. Pre packaging of produce with some obvious exceptions should not be allowed.

Another seriously annoying thing is when they make a big deal about saving ten cents or twenty five cents on something. One new tactic is to put up a big sign with their regular price. They figure that you will assume it is a sale sign. There are too many signs mixed in with the real sale items to try to confuse you. I will not be taken in by this type of deceptive marketing. Always read those signs. Make the savings worth while (at least 25%).

Grocery flyers (if the alleged contractor hired by our twice weekly newspaper decides to actually deliver all the flyers we are supposed to get) are another serious source of irritation. Almost all of them put flaps (for lack of a better term) on the front cover to get attention with some of their better specials, these are just annoying. The same goes for the wings (or whatever they are called) sticking out of the middle of the flyer calling attention to something or another. I tend to ignore all of these attempts to get attention. Impress me with your prices not with things that blow in the wind. I like the store flyers that are a few pages with large ads for their best specials. There are two retailers that do this most of the time. On the other hand the two most expensive chains seem to delight in wasting paper large amounts of paper telling us how great their sale prices are. They are still more expensive than regular prices at the discount chains, except for the occasional really good loss leader. I don't like the flyers that run on with many pages of nothing. But then again, the marketing people know what's best for us.

I am the grocery stores worst nightmare. My weekly shopping is based on loss leaders and the heavily discounted items. I check out the flyers on Thursday and plan my shopping around the best prices. If the prices are particularly good I will stock up. Unfortunately there are those items that never seem to go on sale, I will buy those at the location with the most loss leaders. They play their games, I make those games work for me. Unless it is a really good (at least 50% off) in store special, I refuse to impulse buy. If you are patient enough and careful enough, you can find prices cheaper than that wholesale warehouse store on almost everything, and you don't have to buy the huge packages, or pay for a membership.

I prefer stores that price match. This saves time and avoids the overcrowded parking lot at one location with a 24 hour fitness place next door. It's also the most annoying parking lot in the city.

There is one grocery store that stores all their carts outside. These carts have become bird sanctuaries. Think of the contamination and filth that you are putting your groceries into. Some of these birds have become so tame that they don't even want to move when you try to get a cart. There needs to be a bylaw to ban this practice. If stores decide not to keep the carts inside, they must build some sort of enclosure to keep the carts clean and dry. Why hasn't the health unit addressed this issue?

Some locations use carts that have a 25 cent deposit system. Yet I still see their carts abandoned with the quarter still in the slot. I am cheap and will try to use these and get someone else's quarter back. If you are going to have a deposit system, use at least a loonie and make it worth my while. I notice that the new big box retailer on Stone Road is doing this. I like the locations where they have some type of electronic lock that prevents the carts from going more than a certain distance from the store. All stores should be doing this and forget about the ridiculous deposit system. There are still a few stores with free range carts, and some of them like to wander far from home.

I have been using reusable bags for years, but every so often I buy more than I planned and need to purchase a plastic bag, no problem because I do reuse or repurpose them. My problem is that there has never been a public accounting of where this money goes. None of the chains advertise that they have donated that money to worthwhile causes. It just enhances the bottom line. It's nice to know that all of the efforts of the so called environmentalists are helping the stores improve their profit. I would like to see an accounting about where the money is going published monthly on the front page of their flyers. They figure that it's only five cents and no one is going to question it. Start questioning this the next time you are shopping. I am tired of this scam.

These days almost every grocery chain wants to have a garden centre in the spring and fall just so they can block access to the store or take up valuable parking spaces. Some even have Christmas trees and stuff. A grocery store is the absolute last place I would ever consider buying anything for the garden. Go to a real nursery where you can talk to some one who knows what they are talking about. Once again the marketing types know what's best for us.


Les Enekes can be reached directly by owl. For those not owl equipped, he can be reached at news@thefountainpen.com

The views of columnists in The Fountain Pen do not necessarily represent the views of the principals of the publication.


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