Plowshares into swords

October 15, 2012

Tools so easily become weapons, even in mundane contexts like buying Halloween candy at the drugstore.

Unit pricing was the tool.  A help for consumers trying to comparison-shop and not be mislead by packaging strategies.  But to be helpful, the pricing label on the shelf needs to correspond to the item actually above it.  If it’s a little off to the side, not a big deal, but if it’s on an entirely different shelf and some feet to the left or right, that makes the label not useful.  And the units need to be the same if the labels are to be used for comparing price per unit.

At the store, bags of small candy bars packets of candy were $2.99 for 11 oz. and then some.  A larger bag, at $5.99, contained 19 oz. and something more.  I figured 22 oz should be less than $6 for a larger bag to be a better deal, but I wanted to check myself.  The unit pricing on the shelf label for the smaller bags was in ounces, the shelf label for the larger bags was in pounds.  This I discovered once I finally successfully located a box of the larger bags that was somewhere near their shelf label.

I bought the smaller bag size and mentioned the issue to the cashier, and we agreed the policy probably came from the corporate level and he said he would bring it to the store manager’s attention.

I’m working on the candy supply for Halloween now, in part because I’m finding it more confusing this year anyway.  The bags of candy bars are (all?) smaller (to reduce sticker shock?) and I’m trying to figure out how many I am likely to need.  I didn’t do any Halloween house decorating to speak of last year and still a lot of kids came to the door (even though mine are grown beyond that stage and I doubt these kids or their parents know me or my kids).  I don’t mind.  The 90 lb. poodle is no longer here to bark when the doorbell rings, or even if it didn’t, so it’s a little easier (I used to lock him in the kitchen — we put up trellises as gates).  But I don’t want to run out of candy.  I’m not sure what I would pass out instead.

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