When 40% Off Means Nothing (and Other Shopping Pet Peeves)

I have a love-hate relationship with shopping. I love when I find something I really like and it turns out to be on sale. However, when I go to a store to take advantage of an advertised sale, more often than not I find nothing, or get too overwhelmed by the masses or the messes left by the masses, that I leave empty-handed.

This got me thinking about some of my other shopping pet peeves:

The Faux Sale. I love a bargain like anyone. But when I get emails to 40% off every day, it really backfires. The message I get is that the price point is set so that the clothing retailer can afford to give this discount (i.e., everything in the store is overpriced by at least 40%). It also seems that the company is in business because of the unwitting fools who don’t use the coupon and end up paying full price. It makes me not want to shop at this particular store at all. I certainly don’t want to be subsidizing someone else’s shopping.

Consequently, I’ve unsubscribed from their email list and I no longer have to put up with their spam dingleberries. Feeling lighter already.

(Side note: I don’t like the word “spam” referring to junk mail. The actual pork product in a can is actually pretty good with rice and in kimchee chigae [kimchee hotpot]. I much prefer using the word “dingleberries”—DBs for short—for unwanted emails.)

Also under the “faux sale” category are stores that offer 5 percent or 10 percent off. Sales tax in Chicago is at 10 percent, so those discounts are almost insulting.

BOGO BS. The other shopping pet peeve I have is the BOGO—buy one, get one free. For example, most of the time I just need one package of hotdog buns or one package of bread. However, when they have a BOGO, I feel obligated to grab the second item—regardless of whether it’ll be consumed or not—otherwise I’d be losing out.

I wish the store would simply allow us to redeem the 2nd one free at another date—perhaps within a month’s time. Wouldn’t that be a better way to encourage customer loyalty? Stop by again to pick up the free item that you were rewarded as well as other items on your shopping list.

In the same family as the BOGO is the buy one, get multiple items free or at half off, in which you feel obligated to purchase multiple items in order to take advantage of the offer. Sometimes you just have to walk away very quickly and pretend you never saw the offer in the first place.

Fuzzy Math Checkout. In case you weren’t aware, etailers have different prices for different folks depending on where they’re coming from. For instance, if I visit a site from the UPromise site, I get a different price compared to just going to the site directly. Likewise, I get a different price when I go from my credit card company to that site with the potential of additional earning some cash back from my credit card company. Add in the variables of looking up discount and/or free shipping codes that might be available online, and you need to do some serious number crunching to get the best deal possible.

Times like these I wish I were a programmer so I can come up with an application that can readily look-up and calculate the best deal for me based on the credit cards I have, etc. Instead, I just use the old pencil and paper and manually calculate and record the different permutations and the costs. Or just go the path of least resistance.

If I do the take the path of least resistance, I usually tell myself that not having to deal with crowds, wait in long lines, or look for parking is worth the small extra price for a peace of mind.


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