Would-be consumer watch dog gets bit

When I became a blogger I swore I would use my powers for good, rather than evil.  So today, while I was shopping at one of the various Wal-Marts in the greater Brewer/Newport Metropolitan area something occurred that made my blood boil!

Upon inventory of William’s new school clothes, I discovered a shortage of short pants, and with temps in the upper 80’s forecast I figured we should check the clearance racks for a deal on a couple pairs of shorts for The Boy.

I hit one clearance rack, and Jen hit another. I held up my finds to compare to hers. She held up a pair of pants that were only $5. I told her I would rather get the ones I had found, for only $3.

Come to find out, the rack Jen was looking through had the exact same selection as the rack I had been looking at, but instead of being priced from $3-$5 they were priced from $5-$7!!!

In my previous life as a blog reader, as opposed to a blog writer, I had encountered a similar situation with fishing poles. In that case, a fishing pole in the regular seasonal sporting goods department was priced at $12 and change for Father’s Day, and it came with a mini tackle kit. Meanwhile, in the clearance section of the store, was the exact same rod and reel, minus the tackle kit for $15 and change.

Similarly, a particular brand of fillet knife, with a 6 inch blade was $14 and change, while the same brand knife with a 12 inch blade, and a sharpener was $10 and change.

Both incidents were confirmed by a price check scanner, and a register scanner.

When I asked about how this could happen, and how it was legal, I was given a story about last year’s inventory, and separate UPC codes, and such.

So today. I grabbed an example of both pairs of shorts. Two pairs of khakis in size 12: One priced at $3, and the other $5, and 2 pairs of off white in size 12: One priced at $5, and the other priced at $7. I marched my smug self up to the customer service counter, and asked to speak to a manager, and one was paged for me.

When she got there, I extended my hand in a greeting, and introduced myself. I told her in my least pompous, but slightly smarmy manner that I have blog space at Bangor Daily News, and that I intended to write a blog about what appeared to be deceptive pricing policies, and I wanted to make sure I got the store’s side of things to share with my readers.

She smiled, and told me she would be happy to help me get to the bottom of things. She suggested that there was a possible difference in size, or color between the items. I assured her that I had selected exact articles to make my comparison. She just smiled, and said that there were any number of reasons for the price difference, and then suggested we run them through the register.

She took the first pair of khaki shorts, priced at $5, and rang them in at $5. Next she took the off white shorts, priced at $3, and rang them in at $3. I expected as much.

Now came the interesting part! I was bursting with anticipation!!!! She rang in the khaki pants marked at $7…This was it! My moment in the sun! I expected this would be my opportunity at chalking up one for the little guy! I was going to make a corporate giant fall to its knees in fear of what I would write in my MIGHTY BLOG!

…The register scanner read the shorts marked $7, as actually being only $5, and the shorts marked at $5 rang in at only $3. I WAS RUINED!

Visions of becoming a well compensated consumer watch dog clouded over into a faint memory of something that may have been possible in an alternate universe and reality set it!

I profoundly apologized. I told her how ashamed I was that I had not first checked the price on my own before taking such an accusatory stance, and demanding answers. She simply smiled a smile that let me know I had been brought to my knees by the very giant I had intended to slay, and asked me if there was anything else she could do for me in a manner so sweet she could have charmed honey bees!

I assured her that she had been more than helpful, and that I was grateful for her assistance.  With my little puppy dog tail tucked between my legs, I went to find my wife.

My loving wife was standing near by watching the whole scenario play out with a big smile of her own. You see, she had already cleared the whole situation up way before the manager had even come to talk to me, by visiting a courtesy scanner a few aisles away!

Coming soon to “Ah the things I’ve done!” I will share with you my latest recipe on how to best prepare a large sized serving of crow!

Doug Alley

About Doug Alley

I grew up in Bath, Maine in an upper lower class family with 3 step sisters, a step brother, and a little sister. After high school I spent 3 years serving in the USAF at Elmendorf AFB in Anchorage AK. I've competed in, and won, demolition derbies. I've competed in, and never won, stock car races. I am the 47-year-old father of an 11-year-old boy who is pretty sure he is smarter than I ever was. We live on a little less than an acre of land in a 1973 mobile home in Stetson with my wife Jen, some cats, a few chickens, and rabbits, and a couple of goats. I hunt, fish, camp out, dabble in photography, gardening, and I cook in variable degrees of near success.