The Games Stores Play
By Steve Gillman
Who wouldn't like to save money when shopping? But looking
for sales is just a start. You also need to be aware of the games
that retailers play, starting with the two common ones explained
Reference Price Advertising
You have seen advertising like, "Was $119. now only $89!"
Similar signs will confront you once you get to the store. Interestingly,
regardless of whether the retailer ever sold a single unit at
the $119 price, you feel like you are getting a deal, and that
is the point of this game.
States often have laws requiring that these be honest advertisements,
meaning the store must have the item for sale at the stated price
for a certain amount of time before they can claim that it was
the "normal" or "regular" price. Of course,
not surprisingly, many have it at that price for the absolute
minimum time required by law. They may not actually expect to
sell any at the "regular" price, since it is solely
there to make you feel good about the new "sale price."
One way some retailers use this tactic is by having many similar
models of a product. A furniture store might have several mattresses
that are very similar, for example. Which one is on sale is rotated,
so there's always one that looks cheaper than the others. If
you notice this, certainly don't pay the regular price, but wait
until the one you want has its turn on sale.
You can also save money in this situation by buying one of
the "sale" items. Alternately, since they never expect
to sell the items at that price anyhow, the store manager may
give you a similar discount if you ask (or insist) for it on
the one you really want.
Price Matching Scams
Stores find that it costs nothing to guarantee the lowest
price in town. It may be true that they'll match any competitor's
price, but then again, they will only match the price on the
exact same item - and they may not carry the same models as other
stores do. They're also very aware that we rarely check the prices
in other stores before buying - and almost never after
Consumer research shows that when a store advertises that
it will match competitors advertised prices, we generally think
they have lower prices than other stores. Interestingly, this
impression is there even when they are one of the higher-priced
stores. This is because we often just don't check the prices
at other stores.
There are some customers who actually compare prices and demand
a reduction. This doesn't cost the store much, and meanwhile,
they can sell for more than other stores to all the "average"
consumers who don't check other stores.
You might wonder if comparison shopping worth the trouble
and time. A study done by the Consumer Literacy Consortium in
2002 found that buyers who spent 16 minutes comparing prices
online save an average of $100 on a television. Does that sound
Copyright Steve Gillman. Discover more
money secrets in "You Aren't Supposed to Know - A Book