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December 15, 2008

Macy*s: When the Price is Wrong

Filed under: Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:39 am

Here is part of an ad for a recent Macy’s “one day sale” (yes, I know, they are never really only for one day):

Macy's items

(Note: the ad above is from the main section of the newspaper, and not the Macy’s color circular itself. But, it contains the same items for the same sale.)

While shoppers may have hoped to scoop up these items at the advertised bargain price, that was not to be the case. Why? Because most shoppers probably didn’t pay attention to the little “we’re sorry” box that appeared in the first few pages of the newspaper. It corrected the errors in Macy’s then current print advertisement (Dec. 6, 2008).


Macy's Correction

It is interesting to note that the five items mentioned with pricing errors were all advertised at a price lower than the correct price, so consumers will be asked to pay more than they expected at the store.

Cuisinart Food Processor $99.99 $149.99
Presto 20″ Griddle $19.99 $29.99
Stainless Accessories $8.99 $9.99
Tools Soup Pot $8.99 $9.99
Pyrex Baking Dish $8.99 $9.99

While it may appear that Macy’s is trying to bait customers with low advertised prices that they will not honor, it is hard to find a pattern in their corrections to substantiate this.  Many times, the actual price is lower than they advertise, and they correct that too.

The ultimate questions are, why are so many errors being made, and where are the corrections for all the other retailers?  Surely their prices are not perfect, and sometimes they run out of goods too.

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  1. The reason there are so many pricing mistakes relates to another problem with Macy’s prices I pointed out years ago on my blog. Here is the quote from one of Macy’s past ads

    “”Regular” and ”Original” prices are offering prices that may not have resulted in actual sales, and some ”Original” prices may not have been in effect during the past 90 days.”

    In other words the prices on things at Macy’s may at times not have ever seen the light of day. This in other situations most commonly happens when someone wants to put a ridiculous 50% off on something, they raise the price on the object until that 50% off price is a bearable sale price for them.

    Link to my original blog post in 2004

    Comment by rahlquist — December 15, 2008 @ 9:38 am
  2. If Macy’s wants to be upfront with their pricing errors, why not do it in large print instead of having consumers rely on mouseprint? They know darn well that most consumers don’t read the fine print. I still call it “bait and switch”!

    Comment by Frankie — December 15, 2008 @ 2:44 pm
  3. I agree with Frankie. Retailers who run corrections should be required to run the correction in at least the same font size as the original ad. Retailers who choose not to print corrections should be required to honour the advertised price, no matter the damage to their profit margin. And both the retailer’s ad agency and the newspaper’s design team should hire better editors.

    Comment by editormum — December 16, 2008 @ 2:04 pm
  4. Today the register tells the sales clerk exactly how much change is due. I seriously doubt many clerks could count the change out in a way so it totals the amount tendered, which was standard in the days before computerized registers.

    I suspect we will continue see an increase in faulty ad pricing because the ‘thinking’ has been abdicated to computers. A shocking example of this mentality is the inability of some teenagers who have trouble reading an analog clock!

    Comment by Richard B. — December 16, 2008 @ 7:13 pm
  5. @editormum – I agree with you 100%… it’s the retailer’s job to check, re-check and triple check their ads. Seriously… if I the average reader can look through an 8-page circular in a few minutes, how much longer can it possibly take to read the ad thoroughly enough to double-check the prices? Maybe an hour? It’s well worth paying an editor an extra hour’s pay today, to avoid hundreds or thousands of dollars in lost sales tomorrow.

    Heck, if there are pricing errors, maybe the store should honor the advertised price, and then go after the ad agency to make up for THEIR mistake. I bet *that* encourages the agencies to pay more attention to their work!

    Comment by pnaw10dotcom — December 17, 2008 @ 2:58 am
  6. Retailers know FULL well what drives and attracts consumers. They study and
    teach it, and have weekly meetings on it. They KNOW that percent off sales
    attract the unintelligent (read: most consumers) If you REALLY think some of
    these “errors” aren’t purposeful, I have a REALLY nice bridge for sale in
    Brooklyn and some WONDERFUL oceanfront property in Florida you’re gonna LOVE.

    Macy’s is a dieing breed. In fact, I think they actually dies 10 years ago, but
    nobody told them yet. People are getting tired of the old-school retail gimmicks.

    WHY must products be sold from the SAME store at vastly different prices every
    week (and sometimes more often)? Does it cost the retailer more or less that
    week? I, as a consumer, would LOVE it if I could feel confident that when I
    walk into a retailer’s establishment, I was getting a good fair price for an
    item that isn’t going to be vastly cheaper tomorrow. And, particularly with
    stores like Macy’s, I’d like know when I’m walking into the store to make a
    purchase, that I could be paying less if I clipped the right coupon, stood on my
    left foot, picked my nose, and spit nickels.

    Comment by Dave — December 22, 2008 @ 10:01 am
  7. I stopped shopping at Macy’s several years ago when they took over the Rich’s chain here in the Atlanta area. At the “final sale” of Rich’s (conducted by Macy’s), they had prices to marked up it was ridiculous but people were in that frenzied state where they think everything is a bargain. There were knife sets that retail for $25 going for $150; cooking utensils marked up 100% over the going rate, and more. That turned me off Macy’s forever.

    Comment by Susan — December 22, 2008 @ 1:26 pm
  8. I suspect we will continue see an increase in faulty ad pricing because the ‘thinking’ has been abdicated to computers. A shocking example of this mentality is the inability of some teenagers who have trouble reading an analog clock!

    Comment by pet supplies plus — January 18, 2012 @ 8:40 pm

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