If there’s one thing everybody loves, it’s buying groceries that are on special. Supermarkets know this, which is why price drops are always highlighted with eye-catching stickers. No harm, no foul right? However, some chains have taken the dubious step of introducing ‘Price Match’ labels which look suspiciously like discount stickers. (On a related note, if you attempt to take a photo of this fact, you could get kicked out of the store and accused of being a terrorist. I speak from experience.)
In the past, we’ve looked at how supermarkets use deceptive pricing to maximise profits — common examples include packaging house brands to look like the real thing and hiding cheaper items below eye level. You can take a look at some of their sneakiest practices here.
However, we think the recent “Price Match” initiative adopted by several stores is particularly insidious. Check out the above image from IGA Blaxland. At first glance, the product appears to be on special: the regular price tag has been covered with a colourful sticker with bold, all-caps lettering; just like every other discount sticker you’ve ever seen.
However, removing the label reveals an identical price underneath:
Rather than advertising a special, the sticker is merely highlighting the fact that the product has been ‘price matched’ with other supermarket chains. In other words, the saving you receive is actually zero. Even when the product has been reduced to match competitor pricing, it’s not on ‘special’ like the sticker design implies. Instead, they’re just not charging you extra, which is hardly anything to crow about.
Now granted, the sticker doesn’t flat-out state that the item is on special, but the suggestion is clearly there. If you’re shopping in a rush or are just generally absentminded, it’s easy to see how this sticker would fool you.
Incidentally, IGA Blaxland didn’t take kindly to my consumer sleuthing — which is a massive understatement. Shortly after taking the above photo, the acting manager descended on my trolley and sternly informed me that I what I was doing was a criminal offense (which is patently false). He then threatened to ban me permanently from the store and said that for all he knew, I “could be a terrorist.”
Needless to say, I wont be shopping there again. Unless I’m out of milk, natch.
What’s the dodgiest pricing practice or store policy you’ve encountered at a supermarket? Share you stories in the comments section below.