Grocery StoreWhere do I go to complain about grocery store shenanigans? I’m at the end of my rope with Ralph’s, the local supermarket here in Los Angeles. There are two things they are doing to blatantly defraud customers and it’s driving me crazy.

There’s no way to determine which is a better bargain.
  1. Sale Signs: This is most prevalent in the produce section, but it’s happening all over the store. A sign over the lemons, for example, will read 10 / $1.00 and a sign over bunches of seedless grapes will read 10lbs / $1.00. The problem here is that the lbs in the sign over the grapes is in a ridiculously tiny font. I’m vigilant now because I have been burned by this trick already, but there’s no way that most grandmothers are noticing this. If you’re not paying attention at the check-out line, you’re going to get cheated. And let’s be honest: You’d have to be pretty perceptive to catch that $1.75 difference on a $100 receipt.
  2. Unit Price: I really do my best to compare unit prices when I’m shopping. Manufacturers vary their packaging and sizes so much that it’s pretty much the only way to tell if you’re getting a deal or if you’re getting hood-winked. The problem is that Ralph’s manipulates the unit price on the shelf label so there’s no way to realistically compare anything. The best example of this is in the beer aisle. A six-pack of Budweiser, for example, will have a shelf label reading $1.08/fl. oz but a six-pack of Amstel Light’s label will read $1.84/mL. I went to college. I’m a computer programmer and the Vice President of Technology and Engineering for my company. There’s no way I could determine which of those is the better deal. Sorry, I haven’t ever bothered to memorize the conversion factors for all English to metric units. And even if I had, I can’t do math like that in my head.

In the last year I’ve complained to the managers of all three of the stores within a two-mile radius of my home. It hasn’t made a difference.

There are 4 comments on this post

  1. “where do I go to complain about grocery store shenanigans?”

    Since this isn’t communist Russia and in theory you have a choice, I would recommend using the capitalist system, and just stop shopping there.

    Note from DVG: I love capitalism. The three closest grocery stores to me are all Ralphs, though. Yes, I could spend the extra time / gas to get to a Gelson’s, Bristol Farms, or Whole Foods, but all three of them are much more expensive than Ralph’s; and there isn’t a Von’s or Albertson’s even remotely near my house.

  2. Shoppers have to extra vigilant these days not to get screwed by the grocers. I’ve read that the profit margin for groceries is about one percent, so any time they can get a few extra pennies from the consumer it helps. I fell for the tiny “lb” font this past spring when what I thought would be a $4 bag of cherries rung up at more that $12. The cashier was just as amazed as I. Needless to say, I love cherries, but not that much. Keep up the good fight.

  3. Costco is a good place to shop if you like to do price comparisons. The one near me lists most liquids as $/100ml, $/100g or per item prices for things like razor blades.

  4. Is it possible that Pavillions is calling something a sale item – ‘save 10%’ just because they’re going to raise the price soon by 10%?

    I swear that I’ve paid the regular price on stuff I buy all the time that they say is on sale only to see the following week that the price has gone up.

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