Wednesday, May 23, 2007

4 for $11 or 2 for $5.50? 4 for $11 or 2 for $5.50?

The local grocery stores have been going crazy over the last couple of years trying to confuse their customers with marking many of their products as x for $y. At least under Colorado law, they have to sell the products at $y/x, so logically, the only way that they would make money this way would be on the partial pennies you pay when x doesn't divide $y evenly.

Tonight I discovered that this sort of thing really does confuse people to the store's advantage. I was shopping for soft drinks, and found that you could buy 2 12 packs of 12 oz Diet RC for $5.50 or 6 12 packs of 12 oz Diet Coke (with either Splenda or Nutrisweet) for $11. That is a wash, which is obvious when you compute that one 12 pack is $2.75, or 48 cans sell for $11. So, I bought one of each, to compare the taste of the two Splenda sweatened colas.

But then, I watched a woman grab a 24 can box of 12 oz Cokes. I figured that if the store was selling four 12 can boxes for $11, it would be cheaper to buy a 24 can box instead of two 12 can boxes. Larger packages are always cheaper.

Wrong. The 24 can box cost $6.99, $1.49 more than if she had bought two 12 can boxes. Worse, mixed in were 8 packs of 12 oz bottles for $5.99. This works out to $17.97 for 24 12 oz bottles.

So, within a foot or so in the Coke section the store had:
  • 12 packs of 12 oz cans @ 48/$11
  • 24 packs of 12 oz cans @ 48/$13.98
  • 8 packs of 12 oz bottles @ 48/$35.94
All presumably containing the identical Coke product in 12 oz servings.

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