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An honest mistake? Or a deliberate rip-off?

specialYesterday I was at Loblaws (Baseline and Woodroffe) buying ingredients for veggie quesadillas. Pesto was on sale for $4.50. I bought one. As I walked away from the store, I scanned my bill and saw that I’d been charged $6.99 for the pesto. I went back to the pesto shelf and re-read the sign.

Aha! The sale price only applied if you bought two or more packages of pesto. But look! The regular price is $5.99. If you only buy one, the “special” price is $6.99. Is it just me, or is this doubly misleading?? It’s so easy to not notice that the sale price only applies if you buy two. But then you get charged an EXTRA dollar over and above the regular price if you only buy one.

I snapped a picture and took it over to customer service. The nice young man agreed you shouldn’t have to pay more when it’s on sale. He let me have the sale price even though I only bought one.

Another example involved 20-packs of batteries where it said in large print that the sale price was $11.99. But in microscopic print it said that if you only bought one package, the price was $17.99. At the cash we were charged $17.99, and when we complained, the friendly young woman at customer service took us to the shelf and showed us the sign. Even when she pointed it out, we still couldn’t see it – that’s how small it was. She agreed it was ridiculously small. She called her manager who said we could have it for the sale price, but “in the future we should be more careful.” (I was tempted to say something like “In the future you should be more careful not to steal from your customers,” but that seemed a bit ungracious given that we had already won this particular battle.)

I’m not particularly vigilant – both of these times, I just happened to notice that I got overcharged. But I think from now on I’m going to pay closer attention, because I am not sure these are honest mistakes. They seem like deliberate attempts on Loblaw’s part to mislead and deceive customers. Are these tactics even legal?

If I had a store, I wouldn’t need laws to keep me from ripping off my own customers. I’d do it for ethical reasons and also because I wouldn’t want my customers to think I’m trying to rip them off.

10 comments to An honest mistake? Or a deliberate rip-off?

  • I’m used to Loblaws (the one on Pretoria) displaying their sale prices as “2/$5.00″, and if you buy one it’s still $2.50. I’m surprised that they would do something so clearly deceitful.

    If you couldn’t make it out even when they pointed it out to you and told you it was there, it’s so unclear it might as well be lying.

    If I were you, I’d write to their head office and possibly also file a report with the Better Business Bureau.

    Looking at the label more closely, I see that it says “buy groups of 2″ in tiny print, then $4.50 (but not “$4.50 each”). If they want to get into technicalities about what the fine print says, tell them that it says $4.50 for a pair, not $4.50 each when you buy two.

    – RG>

  • I’ve noticed some other stores in the area doing this too – a sale price that only applies if you buy more than one of the item. It seems really questionable, though, to charge MORE than the regular price for something on sale if you don’t buy the bulk amount, though. Definitely something worth keeping an eye on – and blogging about. I’ll be more careful at the Superstore next time and report any funny business.

  • After being charged double for navel oranges at the Loblaws at Rideau, I check all charges on my receipt.

    On the bright side, I learned that if I bring the error to the service counter, the item is free!

  • LisaRR

    I fear deliberate rip-off. Most people don’t pay attention at check out.
    Be vigilant! This will only become more common. Likely already at drug stores.

  • Me

    Yes, Shoppers Drug Mart has those kinds of sales often, minus the special extra charge :). Now that Loblaw has acquired Shoppers, they started doing the same.
    I seem to recall grocery stores tried to do this a while back but stopped – thank goodness.

  • Bonnie

    That’s ridiculous! I wonder how many times I’ve been ripped off. PMO! I will definitely be more careful on my next shopping trip to Loblaws. Damn you Galen Weston.

  • Cussot

    I noticed that irritating pesto pricing this week, too. I’ll be sure to pick up the item next time, then elaborately abandon it at the cash.

  • I bought that pesto too but didn’t notice the receipt price,

  • Hubster & DD do the grocery shopping on Senior day at Kroger grocery. Last time they spent a small fortune on our supplements, which they felt they could do as they were buying items with “two for one” pricing. Clearly marked in the aisle as buy 1 get 1 free, but they were charged for both items, on two different supplements! And didn’t see it until they got home. I think I’ll have to train them to watch the prices being rung up.

  • I have made this mistake hundreds of times. I can’t read a lot of things any more without my reading glasses but I also don’t walk around with them on because then I couldn’t see. I also find that I tend to read what I think I am reading( if that makes any sense). Are the stores conspiring against people like me?