It is now officially “Sale Season.” Maybe it’s just me, but I get the impression everything is discounted. Call me cynical, but I have the impression the retailers jack the price, then apply the discount so we’re really paying the same price we would have without all the arithmetic shenanigans, we just feel better about now it. Bait-and-switch at its most sophisticated. Or like that shell game the kids lure you with on the street corners.
The place that offends me the worst is the grocery store and its “Club Cards” that entitle me to the special Member prices on various items. What this really means is that the store has extorted my personal information, including my e-mail address, in return for charging me what I used to be charged before I had something they wanted other than money. The clerks push me to the brink of homicide when they glance at my ticket and say, “Ms. Coonts, you saved twenty-nine dollars and 53 cents today.” Like this is my lucky day?
What that really means is the poor wretch who wants to keep her in-box clear of spam has to pay twenty-nine dollars and 53 cents for the privilege (if she buys the stuff I bought.)
Yet, as irritated as the shell game makes me, I find it insidiously irresistible. Yes, I am one of the weak-willed. Recently, I found myself standing in the toilet paper aisle pondering the fact that, with my card, I could buy four rolls separately packaged, for $5, but, if I wanted them cellophaned together, the price was $5.29. This made no sense, and I stood there trying to figure out what I’d missed. I never did figure it out, and I left the store with the vague feeling somehow I’d been had, but I wasn’t smart enough to figure out exactly how. Is this how the stores want me to feel?
And what about the airlines! OMG, I travel a lot and I’m getting a bit perturbed at the whole pricing thing foisted on us by the air carriers. I do a lot of my own booking so I’ll compare fares to the places I need to go, click on the lowest fare, and feel a glow of self-satisfaction… until I see the amount that is charged to my credit card.
So, the base fair is seventy-nine dollars–such a deal! But, that’s where the adventure begins.
First, we have all those taxes and airport fees, and TSA fees (I just LOVE paying for the privilege of being assumed to be a terrorist then letting folks I don’t know touch me in places that normally only get to be touched after the relationship has become a bit more serious than a casual passing fancy.)
And then, the whole baggage thing. It costs almost as much to fly each suitcase to my destination as it does to get my sorry ass there–at some point it is going to be cheaper to not take anything and just buy what I need when I get wherever it is I’m going. And, if I want room enough to actually keep blood flowing to my nether regions and extremities? Yup, gotta pay for it. And First Class? Have you noticed that more often than not that is the only section in the plane with a working lavatory? And the riff-raff in the back (yes, that would include me) just has to hold it until we get to, say, London. So, now I have to pay to go to the loo? At least they give you warm nuts in front of the plane….
So, by the end of it all, the total for the trip is really pretty much double what I thought I’d have to pay. And I’m supposed to feel good about this? No need to worry though, if I don’t like it I can pay $150 bucks to change it.
So, are we all being had? What sales game irritates you the most?