Shopping: Are retailers driving you ‘Potty’?

By | March 28, 2008

Retailer’s margins are under pressure these days as prices rise, but incomes stagnate. I know that from my own wallet. Competition is intense and sometimes even the biggest retailers will resort to less than kosher methods to shift their products.

You’ve got “One Chance”

For those of you who like Paul Potts CD, I just bought the CD at a local retailer in Tamsui, one of the biggest in Taiwan. While this retailer is known for its aggressive pricing strategies, its behind the scenes pricing looks (to be polite) disorganized at best.

Beware the sale price gotcha’s

A few months ago, I noted one sign advertising filing boxes for NT$279. I bought one, but didn’t note the actual price until I got home on the receipt. It was over $300. This isn’t a big amount of money. I naturally assumed that I had made the mistake and brought the wrong model.

The next time I went to the store I bought several more of these items for colleagues in our office who thought they would be useful. This time I checked carefully the model number ‘DD105’ and I took them to the counter. I thought I had bought three of them with larger drawers, but turns out that the DD113 models were also on display (undiscounted) right next to them. I had bought the wrong models, and again paid through the nose.

What a potty pricing scheme?

So this time I was shopping in the store, and bought a CD of Paul Potts for my wife who liked the video she saw on YouTube! As you can see from the picture, it was priced NT$348 on the shelf. I tried to scan it myself in the store, but couldn’t because the in-store scanner wouldn’t read the barcode on the item properly. I bought it anyway because it didn’t matter that much, I wasn’t price sensitive on that item.


On checkout, I found that I had been charged NT$378 for the CD, despite it being priced on the shelf at NT$348. I also found another display showing NT$358 for the same item. Of course, this time I did complain. You can see the receipt pictured here with the price. I can’t ascertain if that is the result of product substitution or not, because the product numbering schemes were somewhat different.

InvestorBlogger sez…

It doesn’t matter the reason: the store should price each and every accurately to the best of its ability and remove old pricing. Nowadays, most products are not priced at all in Taiwan. The price label is only on the shelf. By the time you get to the checkout with thirty or forty items in your trolley, who will remember what each item cost? Who will take the time to check their receipt? And if you’re dragging children, husbands or wives, and your phone is ringing, who will be able to remember?

Fortunately, the store seems to have a no-quibble refund policy in such cases, and indeed refunded me the NT$30 on the spot. But I’m wondering if the policy of insufficient and/or misleading pricing is somehow discretely approved of, quietly practiced but publicly disavowed by the management of this hypermarket.

Advice to Shoppers

The only thing I can urge: if you are facing a budgetary pressure, scrutinize your checkout receipts for both prices and quantities to make sure that you are being overcharged, wrongly charged or leaving items sitting on the supermarket checkout.

Still I learned how to magnify pictures on my camera from the clerk! He was pretty nice about it all! I’m still not sure what the real price should have been because inside the box were two cds, not one. But there was no other pricing on the CD stand or the CD itself to indicate what the correct price was.

Author: InvestorBlogger takes you on a 'Random Walk To Wealth' through money, investing, blogging and tech. We'll explore my insights, mistakes, and experiences together.