6 Supermarket Scams You Need To Avoid Today
Tips To Consider When Buying Your Groceries
Supermarkets call these tricks 'marketing strategies'. We call them deceptive practices. The latest one going around this week is the Grocery Store Voucher Scam, aka the $500 Giveaway Scheme. Before we explain it, let's take a look at the most common five misleading moves that supermarkets pull – we are sure you've been there, even if you don't know it.
Watch the video below to see common scams that happen at grocery stores, exposed by a former worker in a supermarket:
Let's take a look at them one by one – and start with the newest one.
1. Grocery Store Voucher Scam
Several marketing companies are using now this trick to get people into paying for something that might come as an unbelievable shopping experience. It works like this:
You are promised a $500 grocery coupon if you participate in a so-called survey and enroll in three companies (that will spam you forever after). Let's say one is specialized in cosmetics, one in travel and one in food. To enroll, you have to pay $10 or $20 to each of these companies. However, you may think this is okay since you are promised to get $500 back. It seems like a good deal.
Then you wait for the coupon, which comes in the mail as a brochure or a plastic card with a $500 balance. So far, so good – perfectly legitimate since it is, as promised, for a total of $500.
The problem is that the $500 value is distributed in hundreds of different ways: $0.25 off pet food, $0.20 off frozen food, $1 off magazines, $0.50 off plants, etc. The full discount – that you still have to pay for – would be worth the full $500 only if you buy products from EVERY single section of the supermarket.
2. Offer Expiration Date
Let's say the cereals in a supermarket expire very soon, so the store has to get rid of them while still in good condition. They offer a sale deal of 25% OFF, which ends on Sunday. The expiration date of the deal is mentioned in a very fine print or on a different part of the shelf. On Monday, the 25% OFF tags are still by the products, making people grab the items and throw them into their baskets without knowing the price is back to normal.
The trick is this: supermarkets have thousands of visitors a day, most of which look for deals and discounts. Out of those thousands of people who buy the products, a good part will not notice the price change. Those who do will get a refund, as the supermarket easily justifies the fact that there was not enough time to pick up the sale tags on Monday morning.
Always look for the expiration date.
3. The Honey Aisle Trap
You are probably familiar with the fact that supermarkets put some discounted offer products at the end of the aisle so that you can make your way through and see the other regular priced items first. There is nothing wrong with that. However, right in the section with all the 'SALE' signs, there are often products that are not discounted at all. If you check the same items on websites like Amazon or MySupermarket, they will be even cheaper. Many people buy the products on the spot, not even bothering comparing the prices with other places – because, well, they are told is a sale.
This misleading practice is called the "Honey Aisle Trap".
4. Multibuy Deal
This is a trick that many people fail to recognize because they don't want to do the math. Many items are sold as a 'SALE' in bulk, giving the buyer the impression that it's cheaper to buy like that. In a hands-on example given in the video above, the Multibuy Deal is shown as a "6 Yogurts For 2 Bucks". In reality, buying six individual yogurts at $0.38 at that particular supermarket totaled just about two bucks as well! The store added just a few cents, just to justity the sale.
Of course, not all supermarkets do this, but basic math it's something to consider when buying in bulk.
5. Special Price Raise
In order to populate the 'Discounted Items' shelves, some stores raise the price in advance for a month, only to reduce them at a regular price 30 days later. The 'discounted' tag might catch your eye, not knowing that the price is the same at any other supermarket.
6. Comparing the Grams Psychological Trap
Many customers get excited when they see an attractive price of a bigger item when comparing to the same product but in a smaller package. Let us explain with a simple example. A 1750ml bottle of liquid detergent at $14 is much more attractive than a 750ml bottle of the same product priced at $11, right? This way you would buy the big bottle.
What you don't know is that the price of a regular 1750ml is maybe $13, while the 750ml is only $7. However, when people see the $14 cost for the big bottle versus $11 for the smaller one, while standing side by side, they go for the 'better deal'. Which, of course, ends up being a better deal for the store, not for the consumer.
Grocery Store Misleading Practices: How To Report
Make your family and friends aware of the deceptive practices done by supermarkets by sharing this article on social media using the buttons provided. You can also officially report questionable stores to the Federal Trade Commission using the link below:
How to protect yourself more:
If you want to be the first to find out the most notorious scams every week, feel free to subscribe to the Scam Detector newsletter here. You'll receive periodical emails and we promise not to spam. Last but not least, use the Comments section below to expose other scammers.