Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Beware Misleading Sales Practices

Recently I went grocery shopping, and one of the most important things on my shopping list was shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. I walk into the grocery store, and the first thing I see when entering is a huge sales rack, showing exactly that on sale. "It's only $6.85 for three of them!"

At that point, I was contemplating putting those in my cart then and there. But I walked on. And then I saw another display of the same exact thing, and this time, my train of thought went like this:
"Great price, I think. Wait, what does that actually cost per bottle? Oh, that's $2.28 per bottle. Pretty good... I think. Oh wait, is that actually a good price?"

Then I walked on to look at the aisle of shampoos, conditioners, and body washes, and that niggling voice in my head proved correct. Other brands of shampoo, not on sale, were actually significantly cheaper than the same items that were having their "amazing prices" boasted all over the place. No, one wasn't name brand and the other knock off brand- they both were equal quality and more or less the same. And I'm the type of person that knows about sales tricks, knows about price comparison, and yet I almost fell for it. Fortunately I caught myself in time.

Beware misleading sales practices.

Another incident happened to me recently. My modem for our family's internet stopped working. First it was working at a much lower speed than it was supposed to, and then it conked out and stopped working completely. This modem was one that I purchased from the internet company via monthly payments (and had finished paying for), but was paying for service for from the internet company. Because of this, when the modem stopped working, the internet company told me to bring it to their store and they'd replace it for me for free. Fine, no problem.

I get to the store and I tell them that I was promised a replacement modem, and then first they said "Sure, here is the modem that they told you about on the phone, its our latest model."

Wait. That didn't seem right.

"No, I don't want the latest model. I don't need the best and the fastest, I just want a modem that works. That isn't what I discussed on the phone."

They tried to convince me to get the upgraded model, and I kept on telling them that I didn't need an upgraded advanced model, I just needed my internet to work, that I wasn't even getting the service I was paying for, and all I need is for me to get that, not anything fancier.

But then she tries the next trick. "Oh, it's just $2.50 to upgrade. Totally worth it."
"Really? Only $2.50? Is that possible?"
"Sorry, it's $5.42."
"$5.42 total, or per month?"
"Per month."

See, I'm so glad I knew to ask. Because $2.50 is half as much as $5.42 and both of those are a fraction as much as paying that amount every single month. If I hadn't asked questions clearly, if I hadn't been paying attention, I might have been suckered in to paying over $130 for something that was promised to me for free.

Beware misleading sales practices.

Don't assume something is actually a good price just because it is listed on sale. And when something sounds too good to be true, ask questions and verify, and don't let yourself get misled.

Their job is to make a profit on you.

The frugal person makes their money work best for them, and that means that they don't get suckered into misleading sales tactics and only spend more money on something if that quality is worthwhile for them and they are spending more intentionally.

Have you seen any sales tactics recently that you felt were misleading? What were they? How did you avoid falling for them?


  1. I hate when they do that! I have to watch for the same issues, especially things on sale in Target clearance or even Walmart (sometimes clearance just means they want it gone not that they are giving a discount). Numerous times I've walked that item to the original aisle only to see the NEW box with better expiration dates is priced the EXACT same. Ugh. Good catch!

  2. Giggles...

    We have been under quarantine for months, but I absolutely had to go out to the store yesterday -- my neighbors are good with "Can you pick up some milk when you go?" but "feminine products" are more personal. And so, I was standing at the pharmacy, trying to calculate 50% off if you buy 2 of this brand versus the store brand. Another woman, completely responsibly wearing a mask, as I was, asked politely if she could step ahead of me to select what she wanted. I said, "Yes, please. I am just trying to figure out what to do." She said, "Trust me, have you not noticed that almost every thing in this store is tagged with "BOGO"? That means that you are paying way too much to begin with!" (I did leave with BOGO... not like sanitary pads go bad!) Feel free to edit as needed, leaving out questionable content. Just a riff on shopping...


Thank you for leaving a comment on your blog. Comments are moderated- please be patient to allow time for them to go through. Opposing opinions are permitted, discussion and disagreements are encouraged, but nasty comments for the sole purpose of being nasty without constructive criticisms will be deleted.
Just a note- I take my privacy seriously, and comments giving away my location or religion are automatically deleted too.