JRock3x8's Life Musings

Monday, December 31, 2012

Wal-Mart vs Walgreens - an eye opening experience

I am not a price conscious shopper - a difference of a dollar on any given item doesn't bother me at all, but a sequence of those price differences led me to an eye opening experiment on New Year's Eve night.

My father and I have bad noses - we've always had problems and Chicago in the winter is not kind to people with bad noses.  My dad told me about this new product he'd been trying called "Ayr" gel for your nose.  It sounded like a specialty item so I looked it up and it was about $4 online so I added to a list of things I needed to pick up at Walgreens.

The shopping list is :

Whole Milk
Bathroom air freshener
3 tubes of Medicated Chap Stick
and the "Ayr" nasal gel

I expected to pay about $4 for the milk, $3 for the air freshener, about $3 for the chap stick (I had seen an online ad for the chap stick at $1 per earlier in the day, I thought at Walgreen's), and $4 for the nasal gel.

I went into Walgreens and the milk was on sale for $2.49 and I was pleasantly surprised.  I went to get the chap stick and it was marked $1.79 per but I figured it was mis-marked and would ring up 3/$3 at the register.  Next up was the nasal gel which was marked at an eye popping $6.49 but I was in the store and I assumed from the beginning that it was a specialty item and my dad had endorsed it so I swallowed hard and put it in my cart.  The last item was the air freshener - they didn't have what I wanted but they had a Lysol brand which was normally $4 but was on sale for $2 and change.  I felt bad about the $6.49 but ultimately felt like I was getting it back on the other items.

I got up to the registers and my checkout guy is clearly a trainee but the manager is clearly watching over his shoulder.  He rings up the 4 items, asks if I have a Walgreens card (I don't) and the total is over $20.  Again, normally I'm not a price shopper so I just shook my head and swiped my cart.  But on my way out to the car, I couldn't shake the feeling that I'd been had so I checked the receipt and sure enough, the milk ran up at $4, the air freshener was $4, and the chap stick was $1.79 each.  Turns out the sale prices I saw were for "members only".  At this point I'm feeling more than a bit agitated.

I'm on my way home when I realize that Wal-Mart is right across the street so on a whim, I run in.  I know exactly where everything except for the nasal gel is.  The milk is $3.28.  The air freshener is $2.97.  The chap stick is $1.22 per.  And then the "piece de resistance", the nasal gel is available at Wal-Mart for $3.48 - a full THREE DOLLARS cheaper than Walgreens.  Again, if it was just that, I could have lived it with it but getting ripped off on all four items was too much to take.  I walked back into Walgreens, summoned the manager (who was very apologetic about the "sale" prices) and returned every item.  I was unusually polite (for me), pulling the manager to a quiet corner of the store and then smiling as much as I could during the return.

I went back across the street and purchased all four items at Wal-Mart and saved six dollars, nearly 43% over the Walgreens price.

Again, I'm not normally a price shopper but when you play price games with "sale" prices and mark up your specialty items by nearly 100%, I call foul.


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