Once upon a time retailers advertised the price one had to pay to purchase goods on sale. Today, in the spirit of this self-service economy we live in, you now have to figure out the price yourself.
Here is an ad for a five hour “doorbuster” sale at Sears last Saturday. [Click it for a larger view.] What price do you pay?
The price you see, $1899.99, is not the price you pay because for once the small print contains good news. The fine print says “save $800”. So does that mean you actually pay $1099.99?
*MOUSE PRINT: The additional fine print says “after $300 price drop and before $500 instant savings. So, doing the math, the real price is $1899.99 minus $500 = $1399.99, ignoring the $300 price drop that is already figured into the $1899.99 large type displayed price.
Is $1399.99 the real price? According to the Sears website, it is not.
The web ad seems to say the price is arrived at by subtracting both $300 and $500 from the $1899 price, bringing the selling price down to $1099.
In fact, both on the web and in the store, their checkout system rings up $1399.99 for this Sony TV. The web price was an error. However, that’s not the end of it. If you decline the financing, it appears that you qualify for a 10% rebate when you use your Sears credit card. (See last paragraph of the ad’s fine print.)
But the 10% applies for “home theater purchases over $799”. Is this a “home theater” purchase? It certainly is part of a “home theater” purchase. It is promoted right within the borders of the TV itself. And it does not say with purchase of a “home theater package”, which would imply multiple items had to purchased.
Who knows, then, what the final price of this TV is?
Why do stores, not just Sears, make their pricing so confusing? There are a number of reasons, including the fact that Sony is believed to be a manufacturer that requires its retailers not to advertise a price below a certain number established for each product (“minimum advertised prices”). That forces retailers to advertise “non-prices” leaving the math to you.
Also, in a couple of states, when an “after rebate price” is advertised, the product must be sold by the retailer at that price (and the store has to worry about getting the rebate money from the manufacturer). So, to avoid that hassle, you will often only see before rebate prices.
The bottomline is that this is confusing to customers (and store personnel), who often will overlook a good sale because they cannot easily discern what the right price is.
P.S. To their credit, some Sears stores have honored the erroneous web price of $1099 for some customers.