Illegal Price Switching - It's the 3rd-World Way

Posted On: Tuesday - July 9th 2019 6:40PM MST
In Topics: 
  Economics  Big-Biz Stupidity  Scams

Note: 00's prices shown.
Do not hold Peak Stupidity responsible for price increases!
- PS Legal Department

Yeah, Peak Stupidity had to add a new topic key today, with the label Scams. Things are very much approaching 3rd-World ways when you can't even believe the prices at the chain food joint. I mean, they are right up there on the fancy plastic menu board.

I went to a semi-regular chain place (no, it's not the burgers and fries shown above, but pasta and such), and ordered something different for a change. As the surly broad mumbled something from behind the sneeze guard, I tried hard to figure out what the price was that she was telling me. OK, let me just look up there, since it didn't make sense. "OK, for this pasta and the one big meatball, it's $7.95 ... says so right up there."

"Nope, but that's not the price now." "What? Look up top, see." She refused to look up at the plastic menu board. "The price up there is wrong. It's $9.95" Well, listen, I know what the reader may be thinking: It's illegal to do that (that's what a friend maintains), they should honor the price on the menu, of course! Etc, etc. Nope, there is no honor anymore in Big-Biz America. There was no regard for it here. You pay up or leave, no matter what the menu reads.

This was not the first time. In the last such situation, a few years back, there was a simple price card for a muffin that was 40 cents lower than what it was rung up as. After some simple questioning and pointing at the card ("look, see there!") the cashier and manager would simply not honor the simple deal. I wouldn't have minded if the manager had simply told me honestly "look, pricing in our software has been changed, but we forgot/haven't had time to keep up. Let me just put a card up now. Sorry about that." That'd been just fine with me. Nope, he told me how the computer was just plain right, kind of a precursor to the "auto-generated" excuse described in this scam post. KEEP YOUR MUFFIN! SEE YA!" said I, and I never went back.

I did end up buying the item here, because of hunger and my running late. There was no manager this time to explain the rules of business to, if I had had the time.

It's just the big corporate world - some marketing people put pricing data into the computer without waiting for the chain stores to get new menu boards. No, you don't do that in a 1st-world country where somebody actually cares about these types of errors. If it happens, most likely even a decent manager who understands the concept of honoring the price would have a hard time overriding the computer, formerly cash register, known as a POS system (not quite what "POS" normally stands for). He could just refund money all day, but almost no boss has that much integrity anymore. It puts him in a bad spot, but hey, maybe a call to corporate - "Hey, revert the database. My customers are pissed" would be in order.

After the above thoughts, I recalled that lots of big chains have the menus made of flat-screen TV's anyway. Those could easily be changed at the same time as the pricing data (maybe even linked together by good, non-H-1B-visa IT people, like Americans?). So, I suppose this problem may not occur that regularly after these place go all-electronic like that. That is, of course, unless they purposefully try to cheat you, a la the Bank of America.

Flat-screen monitor menus:

I've twice run into slightly different price "discrepancies" (to be generous) lately at gas stations. If they are scams, they seem to work great, as Americans are mostly still too proud to calculate a price out. No we are all too well-off* to stoop that low and call anyone on it, even if we knew.

It may be time for Americans to realize that things are going 3rd-World and act accordingly. One of the things one must put up with is attempted rip-offs left and right, and one must be ready to call it out.

Anyway, Peak Stupidity will have more on the gasoline station scams tomorrow, if possible. This was going to be "girl-picture week", with good reason, of course! It looks like it'll end up as "scam week" or another "curmudeonry week".

* More on Americans' habit of living paycheck-to-paycheck here.

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