Monday, July 23, 2012

Grocery Clubs

by Pa Rock
Aggravated Consumer

Groceries, and all of the other sundry items for sale in modern grocery stores, are, on their best days, a racket subject to price manipulation by the government, growers, manufacturers, transportation systems, and retailers.  A major trend in recent years has been the expansion of a few mega-grocery chains, and the subsequent elimination of many smaller "mom and pop" stores from the marketplace.  Convenience stores have helped to fill the niche left by by disappearance of small grocery stores, but, by-and-large, they have neither the quantity nor selection that today's shoppers seem to require.

(I went to a convenience store this weekend in search of laundry detergent.  It carried one brand in one size - not something that I normally use, and the price was exorbitant.)

Most of the major grocery stores in the Valley of Hell have what is called a "club card" where they offer discounts on selected items in return for their customers' personal identifying information (name, telephone number, address, and email).  These cards are scanned during checkout and savings are deducted from the final bill electronically - as if by magic.

It's all a scam, of course.  Prices are raised on the selected items so they can be "discounted" at checkout.    The poor fool without a club card (like me yesterday) winds up paying an excessive price for not allowing the store to know his information and track his buying habits.

It's bad enough that we have to be held captive to the whims and vagaries - and fees - of big banks who can track our every move and purchase at the click of a mouse, but now grocery stores want in on the surveillance act too!

Orwell's grim future has arrived, and Big Brother prevails!


Xobekim said...

Our local PriceChopper also uses the card concept. We find it does save us money. Before going shopping we typically compare the local grocery store ad with the PriceChopper ad. Sometimes the things we want are at the local grocery and we go there. Wal-Mart tends to be the least expensive, but when it comes to quality you often get what you pay for.

A big club like Costco controls its prices by only charging a certain percentage above what it costs them. I prefer the Costco to the Sam's Club because they treat the employees better. If you plan to spend $2,500 a year or more then their Executive membership makes sense, you get a 2% rebate on all purchases.

If you have lots of room to store stuff and set up a pantry then the Costco makes sense.

Living back here we tend to buy a 1/4 of a cow and a 1/2 a pig from a butcher/meat processer and put the meat in the deep freeze. That's the best way to get quality meat.

molly. said...

Convenience stores are just that, convenient. You pay HIGHLY for that convenience. I have probably 10 bottles of laundry detergent in my garage right now.. got each one for less than 3 dollars.. and it's the All Free & Clear (the only kind we use). So it makes me a little crazy to know you bought laundry soap at a convenience store. But I'm obviously a couponer. Those customer loyalty cards are a scam for most people- but for the couponing community they usually prove to be pretty valuable (earn points, coupons, better prices, load coupons on them, earn credit, etc.). Agreed with the other person that Walmart is often cheapest, but that's without coupons & sales factored in. And their products are often not very good. Target is definitely my new favorite store- awesome deals & hidden clearance all over their store. Shopping is like anything else- it takes practice & there is always more to learn! Please stop shopping at the convenience store. :)