For those of you not familiar with Albertson’s, it is a relatively well-known grocery store here in the Western US. Last week they announced their “Big Relief Price Cut” to all shoppers. They advertised some examples of markdowns, showing significant savings. The flier I saw listed 7 products on the cover, all of them with pretty good prices. From the looks of it, almost everything in the store would be marked down with deep cuts. “We’ve cut prices on thousands of items, up to 20% less every day,” the circular boasts.
I just moved to a new area of town, and thought this would be a good opportunity to check out these amazing low prices at the neighborhood Albertsons. It didn’t take me long to realize there was little “relief” in this phony promotion, and the products in their circular were pretty much the extent of the bargains to be found here. And really, they weren’t *that* significant, along the lines of what you’d find at Wal Mart on any given day.
The first aisle I approached was the soda aisle. Soda is one of those quick price benchmarks (well, to me at least). Everyone sells it, and there is a pretty standard range of prices you’ll see for a 2 liter bottle of soda.
As I walked down the aisle, I saw these big red tags sprouting all over – which were the touted “Big Relief” items. Stepping up to a 2 liter bottle of Coke Zero, I had to do a double-take at that red tag.
$1.79, marked down from $2.29.
Maybe I was reading it wrong… Checked again. Nope. That was the “big relief” price. Now perhaps that’s a good price elsewhere, but no one.. and I mean no one in Vegas charges $2.29 for a 2 liter bottle of soda. In fact, you can pay $1.79 at any high-priced convenience store on every street corner. You can expect a sale price of $0.99 to $1.25 most places in town. But $2.29??
Staring at the tag for a moment, thinking somehow the ink would re-arrange into a real-world price, I snapped out of it and decided to hit the milk section.
Déjà vu already. The first gallon of 2% milk I saw was $4.49. I noticed way at the bottom, there was some frightenly cheap-looking brand marked 2 for $3.99, which comes out to about 2 bucks each. I know sometimes you actually have to buy two gallons in order to get the second one cheaper, but there were no markings in any way indicating this. I even examined the price tag closely to make sure. And, of course, I was still wrong. Upon checking out, the milk rang up $2.99. When I questioned the cashier, I was told I had to buy the second gallon to get the savings. After a trip back to the milk section, it was pointed out to me that there actually WAS a notation… UNDERNEATH the price tag. Silly me for not checking there.
That’s only two examples. As I walked down the aisles, it was quite clear to me that the only “Big Relief” I could sense is Abertsons’ relief that anyone was actually buying into this bogus promotion.
And for the record – I am in marketing, and yes I know the routine. You raise your prices, then lower them again and call it a “sale.” Got it. Flame me if you want… But there is something exceptionally sleazy about this one. The use of the word “relief” retreads a word tossed around by the White House lately, and Albertsons is tapping into that, as if making some contribution to the economic crisis. They present this sale as something special, something unique, and perhaps as even a sacrifice on their part.
On the way home, the conversation in my car went something like this.
“What did you think about their big sale?” I was asked.
I thought for a moment and said, “I’ll never shop there again. I hope it loses them customers, and I hope they go out of business.”
OK, I admit I was being a little dramatic, but in my mind Albertsons has crossed a line with this sale, referencing “relief” that just isn’t there, and actually slapping the customers in the face with higher prices than you can find anywhere else. It’s just bad business, and they certainly know better… So apparently they just don’t care.
Read the press release here.
Filed under: Consumers