Thursday, March 19, 2009

It's On Sale

The Eastpointer

It is on Sale!

By Richard E. Noble
We pulled into the parking lot of one of our local area grocery stores. I won't say which one or what part of the County. I know my editor doesn't need the aggravation. The large windows were all plastered with this week's sales. I read the signs and was surprised to find that each and every one of the items on sale was on our grocery list. "How do you like that!" I said to Carol. "All our stuff is on sale this week."
We wandered around picking out our vital necessities - being sure to get all the specials that were advertised on the windows. When the girl at the cash register began ringing up our groceries, we both noticed that she didn’t ring up the sale items at the sale price but at the regular price.
My wife immediately ordered a halt to the operation - which is always very embarrassing. Other people are behind you waiting, some holding one container from the deli - probably on their ten minute lunch break. So who wants to hold things up?
"That item is on sale," my wife squeaked softly.
The girl beeped the item to check her computer prices.
"It doesn't say that here," she explained.
"It might not say it there," I offered. "But it says it on that big six foot poster you have taped to that window over there."
"Oh," she said. "You can't go by those signs. They never remember to take them down after the sale is over. Those sales ended yesterday."
"Really," I said.
"Well, I can help you out there," I said.
I went over to each window and I ripped down each and every sign. Within a moment or two there was a young manager or assistant manager hovering next to me.
"Excuse me sir? Is there something wrong?"
"No, nothing's wrong. Your cashier just told me that all of these sale items that my wife and I diligently collected around this store are not actually on sale this week. She said that these are last week’s sales and you folks just didn't have time to take them down. Since nothing annoys me more than buying things on sale that aren't really on sale, I thought that I would give you guys a helping hand and take all of these old signs down for you."
After I got all the signs torn down and stuffed into an empty shopping cart, I went back over to the cash register and paid our bill. The manager followed delicately behind me.
My wife and I smiled and thanked everybody as we gathered up our groceries and trucked on out of the store.
As we were departing I heard the manager ask the girl behind the register, "Did you tell that man that those sale prices on the window had expired?"
"Yeah," she said.
"They don't expire until tomorrow," he informed her.
"Oh," she said.
Not too long after that embarrassing incident, I saw a special on TV. The program was explaining how department stores and grocery chains are making themselves millions every year by "neglecting" to coordinate their cash register computers with their on floor (or on window) sale prices. It seems that the vast majority of customers never notice. The customer sees that an item is marked on sale and they assume that when they get to the register they will be charged accordingly. Not so.
Now far be it from me to suggest that any of our little groceries stores or even our area department stores would do such a thing intentionally. BUT, whenever my wife and I buy anything that is marked to be on sale, we now put it separately in our shopping cart. We present all sale items to the cashier in one cluster. Almost always, there are discrepancies. Occasionally the cashier will just make the appropriate change herself. But more often than not a price check is required or someone has to be called. I am beginning to think that this may not be an accident. I hate to be such a skeptic.
A hundred years ago when I worked as a stock boy in a busy metropolitan grocery store, it was our responsibility to change the prices on all sale items on our aisle the evening before the sale. We accomplished this with wipe cloths, ink pads, hand stampers and stick on tags. It wasn’t just a matter of going to a central computer and pressing a few buttons. We did it every week – no problem. What’s the excuse today?

Richard Noble is a freelance writer and has been a resident of Eastpoint for 30 years. He has written and published 5 books. All 5 are listed on If you would like to stock his books in your store or business he can be contacted at