Misleading sales

I think we’ve all suspected this happens at some stores, but not doubling the price. At least I didn’t think they went that far.



  • gjgustav

    I’ve seen this happening at a lot of places. Stores need to profit though. When JC Penney tried honest pricing, customers punished them by shopping elsewhere.

    • Mikey

      I think this happens with ALL retailers. Back in the 70s I was a stock clerk for a major retail grocer. Two things: often 29cent items would go “on sale” 3 for $1. I would also frequently raise prices on items then a week or so later see the item go on sale for the original price.

      We are suckers for “sales” and “free” stuff. Just like the old adage “there ain’t no free lunches”, there ain’t no sales either.

  • Kabukiman

    Kohl’s has been doing this for decades.

  • Colin Mattson

    Kohl’s has this down to a science. Everything is on sale from the day they pull it off the truck, with completely unbelievable “regular prices” posted.

    It should all fall apart when you notice their house brands are allegedly more expensive than designer labels. SAVINGS!, however, is a powerful smokescreen; like Fox Mulder, Kohl’s shoppers want to believe.

  • abdoradus

    People like to be smug. Retailers cater to that. Ron Johnson tried more honest pricing and the customers punished them for it. With these sales they sell smugness as much as clothing.

  • Box of Cotton Swabs
    “We first told you about this last month. Well, right after that story aired on TODAY, store insiders emailed me, speaking out against one of the country’s most popular retailers. And what they say may change the way you shop.”

    Wait… most popular what now?

  • GadgetGav

    We get what we ask for… JC Penney tried to turn away from this pricing model and it was completely rejected by bargain hunter customers and lost Ron Johnson his job. It should be no surprise that when they brought back the previous management, they reverted to the previous pricing model. I always wonder when you see the ticket on the shelf that says “compare at $x.xx” whether that has ever been a selling price. It seems like weasel words to get a high price on the ticket without actually claiming that it was a previous selling price. There are also tickets that say “will be $x.xx” as a way of implying a bargain if you buy it now. At the end of the day just look at the price that’s marked on the item now and decide if that’s value to you or not.

    • matthewmaurice

      That “compare at $x.xx” crap is getting harder now that people have more smartphones. A quick search online prices will reveal the truth soon enough. Whenever I see “compare at $x.xx” now, I pretty much just assume they’re obfuscating, and I tend to be right.

  • Herding_sheep

    At least Ron Johnson tried to fight the good fight with honest pricing and integrity. Unfortunately, customers punished him for actually treating them with more respect. Ironic huh?

    You’ll never change peoples ignorance. They want to be fooled into thinking they’re getting “sales?” Let em have it. If customers don’t want to be treated with respect, then don’t give it to them. I don’t blame Penneys one bit.

  • http://tewha.net/ Steven Fisher

    Except in the case of stock reduction if the sale is 50% off the original price is twice what it should be. Stores aren’t charities.

  • The White Tiger

    This is actually what liquidators do when they’re selling off a company’s assets.

    When I worked at Circuit City, we had plenty of TVs for 20-40% off MSRP consistently, week after week (which was normal, since TV prices are very fluid amongst retailers). Then the liquidators came in, raised all the prices to MSRP, then took only 10% off for the entire first week or two of liquidation. By then, most of the good TVs were gone.

    I can’t tell you how many suckers walked out the door with huge grins on their faces.

    • The White Tiger

      I should add that the reason this worked was because of the image the liquidators projected. They took out ads, they handed out flyers.

      “Everything must go! This is no ordinary sale, oh my, no! This is a liquidation sale.”

      People eat it up. JC Penney makes sure that people are aware that these are “incredible deals,” and shoppers are hardwired to be frugal. They take advantage of a deal when they see one.

  • http://www.johncblandii.com John C. Bland II

    I’ve long had this theory. Good to know it’s true.

  • http://www.thediceguys.com Dean Lewis

    Wow, this is news to the folks at Today? How many centuries has this gone on? My grandmother told me how she occasionally worked at the tourist trap store for a national park well back in the 1950s and 60s, and once she saw a large bin of ugly baseball caps stuck in a dusty corner. She dusted them off, moved them to the front of the store and put a sign on them that said “On Sale!” without changing the price. She sold every one of those caps in one day.

    Every time I shop for groceries at WalMart, doing some simple math will usually show buying the bulk version of something costs several cents more than buying multiple smaller sizes. They aren’t the only store that does it.

    As long as there are suckers/people wanting a deal, there will be “creative” selling practices to get us to spend more. Ain’t capitalism grand?

    • http://www.thediceguys.com Dean Lewis

      As an aside: My wife and I shop at JC Penney often. IF you walk into it and other stores with your eyes open and your brain in gear and adjust for these kind of practices, you really can get some decent deals. You can’t just buy everything that says it is on sale or even take a handful of coupons to a store and expect to pay less.