Monday, February 3, 2014

A fight over avocados

Standing in the grocery store today I was looking at avocados.  I have a plan to make my internet aggregate guacamole today and for that I need two avocados.  The sign on the box read "Avocados, 3 for $5".  Now I have a problem because no other price is listed on the box anywhere.  Does this mean that the usual price of $1.99 per avocado is in force if I only buy two avocados or can I get them for $1.67 each?  Unfortunately I know that either case could be true.  Sometimes when they put signs like this up it actually means that you get a deal for buying multiples and sometimes it is just a transparent attempt to get customers to buy more even though the price per unit is the same regardless.

I hate this crap.  Ending every price in .99 is irritating as hell but at least when I look at the listing I can determine exactly what the cost of a given item is.  When there is a sign that says 3 for $5 though I never know what exactly I will be paying if I buy two and those kinds of shenanigans enrage me.  I should be able to determine what price I will be paying for an item by reading the damn price listing.  That is why you put prices on the items, to tell people what the item costs.  If people reading it don't know what the items cost you have FAILED at listing prices.

I stood in front of the box of avocados trying to decide if I should make a scene.  I wasn't rushed for time so I was sorely tempted to call over somebody at random and then go up the chain to the manager to berate them for using these sorts of tactics.  After all, if everybody just walks on by refusing to make a scene then they will continue in their evil ways.  The only way I can try to influence this situation is to make add a ton of annoyance and frustration to using these sorts of tactics and hopefully that will tip the scale towards transparent pricing schemes.

Eventually I remembered that when I buy avocados Wendy often ends up fussing at me because I use them all for guacamole and she gets the dubious pleasure of watching her favourite food get carted away to be eaten elsewhere.  To solve this problem I need to purchase another avocado for her to eat, meaning that I need precisely 3 avocados.  While I don't mind the prospect of an argument with little chance of gain I probably don't want to lead off with

"Well, I want three avocados for $5.  But what if I only wanted two avocados?  What then, punk?"

It just lacks something in the panache department.  So I suppose the manager of the local Sobey's can take a deep sigh of relief as they will not need to face down a grumpy me lecturing them about the ethics of pricing.  Not today, anyway.


  1. It bugs me too.

    Fight the good fight!

  2. You can get 1 for $1.67 each unless otherwise specified. I'm not sure this is an actual law (although I wouldn't be surprised if it is) but I can't recall when I've ever had to pay more than the fractional price unless there was another price listed on the same sign.

  3. My (albeit anecdotal) experience with Ontario supermarkets says that produce prices always scale to the unit. This comes in handy especially when faced with e.g. 5 lemons for $2.

    That said, the practice is super-annoying.

  4. At my local store (Maple Leaf Gardens Loblaw's) the sign will consistently say either "3 for $5.00" and below in small print "(1/$1.67)" or on the rare occasions you must purchase more than one, it will specify a minimum purchase.

    Feh on Sobey's. Though there are personal reasons for this (my family once rented a house to a member of the family and were not happy with the results).

  5. So, this practice makes me crazy as well, but pales in comparison to the extension of this practice. When supermarkets post little "Savings" stickers on items such as a can of beans regularly $1.69 on sale for $1.19, they put a little sign saying "Save $0.50" This is great, no problem. When they combine this with the BS practice above. Where they have avocados, that are normally $1.99, posted for "3 for $5.00" and have sticker stating : "Save $0.96 ..... on three." The "on three" part is of course in very small print beneath it. Seriously, bordering on criminal. Such crap.

  6. The Metro near where I live uses both practices. Some things scale down properly, others don't. I've had both happen on the same shopping trip. I do think the signs were subtlely different, though. One was X for Y dollars and the other was Y if you buy X with a second per unit price listed in small print nearby.

  7. You people need to get a life. There are so many other important things that need our attention and this one can wait because it is way down on the scale. If you really need to fix this, then put a smile on your face and talk to the appropriate people in a friendly civilized way. That way, everyone will have a better day and you might get the change you are looking for..

  8. @Dad
    Advocating that we talk to others in a friendly civilized way and leading off your own comment with 'get a life' seems pretty hypocritical wouldn't you say?

    In addition, you argument that we shouldn't be talking about this because it isn't important enough is a logical fallacy. By that logic no one would ever have a little chit chat with a friend to catch up, read a book for fun, or just enjoy a view because we should all be saving orphans in a war zone. Kvetching about deceptive marketing practices isn't the most important thing but it isn't hurting anybody either.

  9. None of this is nearly as mind blowing as 6 roses for $5.99 or $0.99 each, which I have seen many times in my life.