‘A Conspicuous Consumer’ Writes

Readers Scoop smallDear Lakewood Scoop,
I have always wondered why people write letters to the editor when they have a gripe with a particular organization, school, playgroup etc.  It seemed to me that they should write a letter to the place they have a gripe with.  What good can come of writing to a newspaper? Now however I am extremely frustrated and annoyed at a particular store, and I feel the need to vent. In addition you have been featuring local businesses and perhaps airing some of these complaints will lead to happier customers.

There is a grocery near me that I occasionally run into for a few items, despite the fact that it is a neighborhood store and more expensive than shopping at NPGS.  I know that I should be prepared to pay a little more for the convenience, but EVERY time I go in there I come out feeling that I have been cheated in some way.
 
Firstly, most items are not marked with prices, and even the shelves are not marked.  So if I need noodles for example, and I want to compare the prices of five different brands of similar noodles, I cant do that. These different brands can vary pretty much in price, and as a frugal shopper I am denied the opportunity to make an informed decision.
 
Secondly, even when the prices are marked on the shelf, they are wrong.  Last week I ran in just for a bottle of vinegar.  The shelf said .99.  When I got to the register, it rang up as 1.39.  Now you may think that 40 cents is not much, but it is 40% more than the price on the shelf!  That is a considerable difference. (Imagine if everything in your whole wagonload is really 40% more than marked!)  I brought it to the attention of the cashier and she just said, Okay, and changed it.  She did not even go check the price on the shelf which leads me to believe that she was well aware that there are alot of discrepancies and did not even doubt me.
 
Then when I asked her to put in on my account (I had no cash on me) she told me that price – .99 was only for cash paying customers and if you put in on account you have to pay 1.39, so she changed it back to 1.39.

I feel cheated, because when an item is priced one way, that’s what it should scan.  It does not say ANYWHERE in the store that if you put items on account you will be charged 40% more. 
 
To me it was very obvious because I was only purchasing one item, but if I had been buying a whole wagon load of stuff, there was no way I could remember and notice every discrepancy, and  that just seems like they are trying to pull a fast one, i.e. cheating!
 
SO I have been avoiding that store, but today I ran in there for a couple of things and I picked up a package of nuts.  I know they run about $5.00-6.00 but of course there was NO PRICE on the shelf.  I took it anyway, and when  I got home I checked the receipt out of curiosity (for such a small shopping – milk, eggs, and some small items, I had paid almost $20 )  They had charged me $7.69 for a package of nuts that sells elsewhere for at least two dollars less!   That is highway robbery. 
 
I have come to the conclusion that the reason they do not mark prices on the shelves is because they are truly embarrassed at the prices the have the nerve to charge. 
 
In any case, these experiences are really just the tip of the iceberg.  If a store wants to be successful they have to be honest and upfront with their customers.
 
 
Thanks for letting me vent,
A conspicuous consumer

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38 COMMENTS

  1. if they charge one price for cash and another for credit (puting on your acct) then that is ribis.
    The only way that would be permissable is if when you pay cash you ASK for the discount NOT THAT THEY GIVE YOU AUTOMATICALLY.
    this way the real price is the more expensive one and the cheaper price is only when you ask specifically for it.
    In tthe case here the casheir highered the price when you said to put it on account. That is a clear violation of ribis dioreisa!!! You must go back and get the difference back. Ribis is asur to give as well as take.
    Kosher village always gives a discount if you pay (if you pay cash or check its 10% and if your paying by credit card its 8%.
    They only give you the discount if you ask for it and the reason they do that is because of Ribis

  2. I need money I have a family to feed too. I give u credit I give u delivery (for free) when I say I’m closed and u just need that 1 thing, that turns into a full shabbos size shopping, I don’t close the door on u. When u point out the “mistake” I charge u only 99. When I ask u to pay before. Yom tov u say I have to pay for matzos cheesecake lulavim or latkes. If I charge too much for u please go to npgs where they don’t mind if ur kids turn over the store in 5 seconds flat. Maybe the store owners can vent on tls too.

  3. FYI- Conspicuous consumer does not actually translate to the point you are trying to make. Ironically enough, it is pretty much the opposite of the point you are trying to make. Conspicuous consumers are those that purchase things to show their wealth- even going so far as to use a shopping bag from a high-end boutique when they have not actually shopped there. I believe that the term you were looking for is conscientious consumer.

  4. To: don’t shop in my store:
    is that a reason to be ‘ovear’ #1 ‘geneva’ for making up a price with some1( by marking item one way) then when he gives you a $20bill you give him less change#2’onah’ charging more then more then the market price(&no: your not a:nosay v’noten be’emunah..4those that they think they know chosen mishpot!) #3’ribis’ for chargeing (more) money for credit(if you can’t afford credit : don’t give it! Your not a bank)??
    p.s. From the way you are complaining : your not doing well! Nu ! With all these esurim thae are ‘ae’no roah siman brocha’ I wonder why!!

  5. The prices change so often its hard to change it every day on the shelf. And if you want cheaper go to npgs but don’t ask for delivery when its freezing and NO CREDIT ANY TIME

  6. so did you do as you said and send this letter to the mamager? If they are smart business people and open to suggestions, they will benefit from your input

  7. I agree 100%! & can name 5 stores that do this ! we have 3 that are somewhat good!

    please take not :there is a diffrace between a markup,a 25%-35%(or sometime 50%) thats the store profit! example: vinger cost the store $.50 but store price is $.79- $1 Or charge a overthe market price=like once in three weeks the price jumps to 1.39 Or chargeing for libers a roll of bounty 1.89 …no1 charges 1.89? you desided to make your profit this week(or this year) on this item! so you are overchargeing. ganiv! a watermelone for $10 (a real story) no-one sells it for that price ?? that’s where you are makeing some extra this week ! its ‘onaha’& is you don’t return the money its…gevevah! its a sham!!!

  8. I feel all you bloggers are getting side tracked. The main dishonest thing the store is doing is Not pricing the items. I tell my wife NOT TO SHOP THERE. If a store in this day and age is not showing its pricing it is because they are playing games with it. You only hide,if you got something to hide.

  9. There’s no reason that the prices on the shelf should not be accurate at all times. “The prices change so quickly” is simply not an excuse. When you receive new stock at the higher price and stock the shelves, adjust the posted price. The issue comes up when there’s notification of a price increase and the store wishes to mark-up what they already have in stock, even if they have yet to receive merchandise at the higher price. They switch in the computer, but never seem to get around to making the change on the shelves. That also shouldn’t be terribly difficult to impliment – set your inventory control system to automatically produce a shelf sticker when a price is changed in the computer, distribute the stickers at the close of business and schedule the actual price increase to be effective only at the open of the next business day. There’s really no excuse other than to obfuscate overcharging.

  10. Even when it comes to the stores that do mark the prices, there are a couple of stores that if an item is on sale I know to watch out- the sale items at this store are almost invariably short dated or damged goods that are being dumped by somebody. This has been the case time and time again. If you are trying to get rid of last years purim chocolates or expired candy or ice cream that is past the sell by date, please don’t write sale. Write managers special or something similar so you are not fooling the customers. It’s great when you can offer old pasta or flour products to your cutomers at a reduced price , but there are often infestation problems. After several years of learning the hard way I now go to shoprite for all the sale items- wakfern corporation has very high quality standards and will not sell damaged goods. I patronize the local stores for all the items I know to be fresh and problem free. Please earn the public’s trust. We want to patronize your store!

  11. I must say that I shop there and they might be more expensive, but they deliver and that makes a BIG difference in the winter. And the staff is really nice. Thanks for the convenience. And for all of the complainers, NO ONE is forcing u to shop there.

  12. This is why I try to only shop at sierra groceria on clifton. Great service, fresh food and if I need penicillin or valium I can get it right behind the counter. And no pesky taxes on marlboros. Mi keamcha espanol!!!

  13. The store owners appear oblivious to the that govern the business. Yes, I know you have the best store, cleanest store, with the best service, and oh yes- all with a smile. (Very Sarcastic) When I’m in these stores, do you guys have a clue? You cant do whatever you want. Just as you have a Kashrus and Health inspection should you have a Deli or Butcher Dept- There are inspectors for you shelf tags -both for accuracy and that they ARE ACTUALLY ON THE SHELF. New Jersey Department of weights and Measures WILL fine you $50 FOR EACH ITEM ON THE SHELF THAT IS MISSING A PRICE TAG. So 5 bags of sugar in a row on the shelf with no shelf tag may cost the consumer $2.50, but when Weights and Measures comes in, it will cost you, the store owner $250.00. Imagine when they audit your whole store. All items, whether it be grocery or perishable, that have a scannable UPC must have a shelf tag or a sign that CLEARLY states the cost, the weight/size, Item description and price per pound. I suggest you invest a couple dollars on a shelf tag maker-they are well worth it.
    Your comments to your customers in this blog truly discust me. Remember, the customer is always right.No matter what!!!! If you are not honest with your pricing, then I would never even look at a perishable item in your store. You would probably chince on refrigeration and you probably do not have the training to identify safe handling temperatures. Do yourselves a favor, having a Heimish store is no excuse for being a deceptive shop owner, fix the problem and listen to your customers. They will recommend your store to their friends and so on. You cant have any excuses in the food business-you can make someone very sick by your store’s practices. Wouldnt you want to strive to have the best store in town?

  14. Speaking of weights & measures – ask a poseik, but I believe that having one price on the shelf and a different price in the register is a violation or the Biblical injunction against inaccurate weights & measures, something which the Torah refers to as toeiva, “an abomination”.

  15. Delivery is NOT FREE , it’s included into the price. Stores that do deliver charge a little more per item (then stores that do not ) , wonder why there’s a minimum of $50 for a delivery ? But that’s understood cuz they need to make a profit too. But unmarked items is no excuse !

  16. when NPGS had their fire years ago, I was at a loss. I did not know where to shop until they reopened. I tried several different stores, but, couldn’t enjoy the shopping. When NPGS reopened, I happily went back and except for Shoprite, do not shop anywhere else. B”H I have a car and don’t find it hard to go out and get my own groceries, even with the kids. (If it’s snowing or pouring, I can wait a day to do my shopping, what’s the big deal?)

  17. I’m in total agreement with the writer of this post. It is inexcusable for a grocery to constantly mismark items in their store, and leave the remainder without any prices whatsover. It is all the more intolerable when the store is not of the discount variety, and is known to charge a premium for their services (delivery) and good location. We all don’t mind paying a bit more for these benefits, but could you please TELL us ho much we’re paying so we can make a judgement whether or not we wish to purchase the item (before we go to the register and feel akward telling the cashier…sorry I won’t be taking this item). My feeling is it done intentionally since a large percentage of people will not look at the register as it rings up the price and will not notice the inflated pricng whereas it would be more noticable if it as posted on the sheves or items. It also saves money on labor costs.

  18. I appreciate the credit u give consumers and the deliveries, but I think consumers have a right to know how much a price is , it may even be the law. I pay Russian roulette every time I by ice cream or candy there and hope I won’t have to mortgage my house. also if you have this policy state it in large letters in the frontM if stores would actually listen to the critique of their customers, they would do much better: PS you do have curteous workers though, the stores that don’t I won’t shop in .

  19. You gotta luv the Ultra Glatt Kosher food products with seal of approval from multiple agencies and yet No expiration dates. I guess quality and freshness are not important

  20. some people think that if they don’t get what they want for exactly what they want for it, its someone elses fault.

    make all the yeshivishe taynos on the store owners, all it does is expose you for the am ha’aretz you are…

  21. There is a place here in town advertising chicken legs at a rock bottom price, yet when you call them to place an order the rock bottom price is only available if you also buy chicken breast. Now if they would advertise it that way it would not bother me, however they do not. It is the old bait and switch game.

  22. Why shouldn’t a store that delivers, charge a nominal fee for delivery? that wat way they can keep prices down, and those who don’t get deliveries, aren’t subsidizing those that do. I think it is only fair. If you drive to the store in your own car, it costs you time and money, so why not charge the stay at home customer for the time and money it costs. If I didn’t have a car or I was stuck at home and needed groceries, I’d gladly pay a few dollars to cover the cost of a delivery.

  23. The price without the breasts is still 35-40% less than any other chicke non the market. They also tell you that up front when you call. Should they adjust their ad? Sure. Is it the same issue as stores failing to mark the shelves, conceling exhorbitant prices in the processs? Absolutely not.

  24. although i didnt like “dont shop in my store” arrogance. ( i dont really think he has a store.) the only person here who is actaully wrong is the letter writer. i do understand his frustration , and i also get frustrated, but my understand of how businesses run allows me to accept it.

    you have to understand this simple concept. you can open a business to make money or you can open a business just that other people should benefit. unfortunatly 99.9% of business are only for the owners benefit no matter what he says. and therefore if he is not making money it is useless. he is not staying open so that you dont have to walk a few extra blocks. or because you like shorter lines. the business has 1 purpose and 1 pupose only. that the owner should make money. period.

    that said you have to figure out what this store owner is offering that he can make money and how he is going to make money.

    for NPGS its simple. they are mass merchant discounters, price attracts the masses which allows them to operate at low prices. when stores are not doing high volume , and they have compitition that is doing high volume , they have to figure out a way tto make money other ways. its can be higher margins, better service, cleaner, personal attention, ect. many places need to be able to “get ” you expecially if they are offering convienance. if they cannot get you they cannot survive. so it goes like this. you know you can go to NPGS and so does he, you can ask every single item what the price is, but your not going to do that because it is not convienant. if he puts up every price you will be to cautious. so he doesnt put up prices. the average order maybe $20 and you know its ging to be $2-3 more than you thought and he knows that . he gets 100- 200 customers a day. so those average of $400 a day is what he is taking home. if you cannot fargin him the $2 dollars extra week, then you are not for him , and he is not for you. by keep on going back there your showing that you need him but you cant fargin him. i understand you, but just realize this , if he had prices there ,you wouldnt buy, and he would close. if your not the type who can just bend over and take it. then dont go there.

    you should just realize , once you get out of your little box, that almost every buisiness in the world has such issues, some can be right out bold about everything , and some have to foll you a little because they are “selling the customer who needs to be fooled a little” because they are not totally intuned to reality. and when it is done on a big professional scale its called marketing.

  25. The bottom line is that businesses should be truthful. If you are only offering a certain price with strings attached, mention it in the ad, not when you call up. BTW there is a store in town that matches their price, so they are not 30-40% cheaper.

  26. HONESTY IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS IN EVERYTHING. FROM BUSINESS TO FRIENDSHIP TO MARRIAGE ETC…

    but the key to success in business is HONESTY & CUSTOMER SERVICE. AKA if you take care of your customers to help THEM (not just for profit) they wil always come back to you.

  27. What this disgruntled customer has done is caused a host of other people to paint the retail businesses in this town as thieves, unless of course it is NPGS . An ehriliche Jew has to be very cautious of not causing peripheral damage.

  28. there is a store that sells their items for at least a tenth over the prices of other stores but i go there always ,just because it is clean everything is marked everything is in order there arent any boxes you have to jump over to get where you need everything is fresh and most of all, the owner and workers are prolly the nicest ppl …theres another store a 1 minute walk in the other direction that i refuse to go to because theyre dirty inconsidarate and if you wanna know how much an item is you gotta bring it to the front …true everything is cheaper but i rather pay just a drop more and know i am then to go somewhere that i dont feel like a mentch shopping there even if it is cheaper…word

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