The Price is Wrong
By Larry Teren
I’m a martyr to my own sense of justice- but aren’t we all? Take for instance what happened today at the supermarket:
Two stacks of canned heart of palms are displayed. On the right side stack there was posted a sign that indicated it normally sold for over three dollars, but by using the preferred customer card, the price was $1.69- a veritable bargain. I grabbed a can, put it into my shopping cart and proceeded to the check out counter. The clerk scanned the item and it rung up $1.99 on the register. Naturally, I protested and went back to the display to validate what I thought I had seen.
I returned to the checkout counter along with a stock boy who agreed with what I saw. The clerk disagreed because the register rung it up at $1.99 and not $1.69. She called the assistant store manager over who said that I was wrong but I persuaded her to return to the scene of the crime. She indicated that she was still correct and that the sign was only on the right side which contained cans of cut heart of palms. That was on sale at the lower price. On the left side were whole heart of palms at $1.99. She said someone must have knocked the sign off. I was skeptical. She also made a caustic comment that people don’t read. I replied with a another caustic comment that if the store was run properly, someone would be checking on a regular basis for oddities. A few times I’ve pointed out to them that there were items on shelves without pricing.
The fact is, Your Honor, that there was no price markings on the cans themselves. Bereft of a second sign, it was natural for any intelligent person (thank you) to presume that the $1.69 applied to both sides of the display.
The assistant manager said to the clerk, as if she was doing me a big favor, “give it to him for $1.69.”
At that point, I said I didn’t want it. I didn’t want to cheat them and I didn’t want them to cheat me- that’s how I operate. If they felt the price for the whole palms should be $1.99- then that was their right. But I also had the right to decide the value of purchasing an item. So, nobody won and I was happy. And not having the heart of palms didn’t ruin my day but it would have been nice- at $1.69, if that is what it really should have been.
To prove to you that I don’t act the martyr for all pricing disputes, take for instance what happened at a different store a couple of weeks ago. I saw a specific item had a price sticker of $3.99. I knew that the normal pricing was $4.99. I thought that maybe they were finally lowering the price to something more realistic for its value. I grabbed it and eventually proceeded to the self-checkout machines. When I scanned the item, the screen display showed $4.99. I called over the attendant and told her that I didn’t want it for $4.99. She said that I was entitled to it for $3.99 because the label indicated it as such. I said that I now suspected that the label was done in error and it probably was $4.99. She insisted that I was entitled to it at the lower price. I wasn’t going to argue because I figured that it was their mistake and I wasn’t really cheating anyone.
In summary, Your Honor, I could understand that maybe a sign got knocked away but price stickers gone awry were not my worry. Now, if only I could go to a car dealership and find a model on the floor where someone accidentally dropped a digit to the sticker price.