Beware of Sales and Rebate Offers When Shopping

Visiting a local store recently I noticed quite a few great sales. Stocking up, I made my way to the checkout only to be shocked at the total amount due. I went to the front desk, after paying for my purchases, to point out some errors on the ticket. Much to my surprise most of the “errors” were simply tricks.

One so called error was that I didn’t purchase the right scent of shampoo that was on sale. Well, the sign saying the shampoo was on sale was placed in front of a scent that wasn’t included in the sale. Seeing the price and grabbing it was my mistake. I didn’t take the time to read the fine print, examine the bottle, then make the purchasing decision. I was told the sign would be moved, but after coming back a few days later, I noticed it was still in its former spot.

Another trick that’s often played is that a certain size of something is on sale but the sign is in front of a different size. You think the product you’re purchasing is really cheap today, but you find out upon getting to the register, that you chose the wrong size and the size you chose isn’t reduced. Wanting to replace the product with the one that’s on sale you discover they’re out of that size.

Some struggling stores, and other store owners with questionable scruples, play these tricks to make more money. Some customers won’t take the time to go to the service desk to return the items, others won’t even notice they paid more than stated. Although some people will, the store still makes money from the ones whom they’ve managed to scam.

One trick that most of us fall for is the “buy one get one free” sale. Although they will actually give you a free product for purchasing one, upon closer examination you’ll notice that the price is much higher than usual on the one you buy. For products you buy often you may notice the discrepancy immediately, but for products you rarely buy, the price hike may go unnoticed. Although the free one they give you still makes the price cheaper than it would be if you paid regular price for both items, it makes you wonder what other tricks they’ve been playing on you.

A famous one, that’s been going on for years, is the rebate trick. The sign in front of a vacuum might say “$48”, but the fine print says “After $60 rebate”. If you don’t notice the fine print you’re shocked when you get to the register and don’t have enough money with you to pay for the item. Of course, you can still get the rebate, if the form has not expired, but it’s the idea that, if you don’t notice the fine print, you’ll end up paying money now that you may not have to spend. And, many people get home and forget to send for the rebate, or have lost the sales slip and/or rebate form, making it well worthwhile for the manufacturer offering the rebate.

Retail stores aren’t the only ones taking advantage. Many clerks, working the drive-thru windows at fast food joints, or working a register elsewhere, have come up with a very clever trick. They tell you the total, make your change, but before giving it to you, drop a dollar of it in a different section of the register. Then, when they hand you your change, if you don’t notice the missing dollar (or more), they pocket it when they clear their register after their shift. If you do notice it, they simply apologize and give it back to you. They especially look for people who are distracted with children, tired, or in conversation. Even if they only swipe a couple of quarters from each patron that’s quite a nice haul at the end of a busy shift.

One more slight of hand is done to some people, at some stores, when they purchase quite a bit of merchandise. One of the bags is “left behind” and undiscovered until they get home. Many people won’t go all the way back to the store to claim their missing couple of items. For the ones that do, they will generally get the merchandise, but for the ones that don’t, the clerk gets free goodies.

Protect yourself from these little tricks by always reading the sign in front of any sale item. Make sure you understand what sizes, types, and brands are being offered at the sale price. Double check the package to be sure you’ve purchased the required item. Count your change every time you pay for anything, even down to the pennies. And always, make sure you get a receipt and check it against what you paid. The extra trouble you go through is a hassle but can save you quite a lot of money over the course of a year.

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