Grocery stores' bogus 'low prices'

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cereal aisleImagine if Wal-Mart decided to add 10% to your bill every time you shopped there. You wouldn't get a choice -- well, you'd have the choice of not shopping there anymore. Now pretend it's happening only at the Wal-Mart stores in the Hispanic part of town. Sounds pretty illegal to me, but that's exactly what's happening at some grocery stores in Colorado. And they freely admit it -- sort of -- according to a recent report by 9News.com, a local TV station.

"The 'shelf-plus' pricing program is only used in certain store formats," said Brian Numainville, Public Relations for Nash Finch Company, which operates 50 grocery stores nationwide. "These stores tend to be located where consumers are more price-conscious, as compared to our more conventional supermarkets." Only the company's Avanza, Food Bonanza and Wholesale Food Outlets stores have the 10% price add-on.

The way it works is wrong on so many levels. Next to all of the prices are signs that say "A great way to save - Plus 10% at the Register." So you see, the company is informing customers, but how would you know it's supposed to mean plus an extra 10% at the register rather than a 10% discount.

But the store says it's legal, and here's why. "Given the need to attract and retain customers, our stores cannot afford to alienate its customers by charging unexplained fees or unanticipated mark-ups. Our pricing is attracting customers, rather than losing them, demonstrating that the pricing policy is in fact fair, obvious and well-understood by shoppers," Numainville said.

Somehow I doubt that the shoppers at these stores really understand what's going on. I don't even live in Colorado, and this makes me mad. If you found out your local supermarket was tacking on 10% to your bill would you ever go back?

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