5 Sneaky Ways Stores Try to Get You to Pay More

This article, entitled 5 Sneaky Ways Stores Try to Get You to Pay More comes from SavingsAngel.com.

How many times have you thought you’re getting a good deal only to end up paying more than expected?

An email I received from a reader in Saginaw had me thinking about all the little ways stores try to trip you up. Here are five sneaky (yet totally legal) ways retailers lure you in with sales that actually end up costing you more.

Limiting offer redemptions

This is the tactic that spurred my Saginaw reader to write. One drug store chain lets you rack up bonus points on your loyalty card that can then be redeemed for discounts on future purchases. What you might not be aware is there is a limit to the points you can earn. I’ll let my reader explain:

They advertise if you buy a certain item you will get, for example, 1000 points which equals $1.00 on your next visit. Let’s say on another day you buy a number of items that also give points. In such a case, if you redeem your points from a previous purchase, you aren’t given credit for the new points.

Other stores might advertise sales but limit you to one offer per transaction. Be sure to carefully read the fine print on ad signs or, in the case of loyalty programs, review the terms of use to be sure you know any limits on promotional offers.

Requiring a loyalty card

Along with limiting offers, some stores won’t even give you a sale price unless you have a loyalty card. This used to be a rare tactic, but it’s become commonplace across much of the state with both Spartan Stores and Kroger requiring the use of loyalty cards for any discount. If you are shopping in a new store, stop by the customer service counter first and see if you need a card before you end up with a shockingly large total in the check-out lane.

Single item pricing

You’ve probably heard that if an item is sale priced at 2/$4, you don’t have to buy two items to get the sale price. Instead, you can buy one at $2.00.

However, it appears some retailers are turning the tables on this tactic. I am increasingly seeing retailers who have, for example, a sale price of 2/$4 and then write in tiny print “single item pricing $2.49” or something similar.

It seems they are now counting on people picking up a single item so they can hit them with a higher price at check-out. As long as they have that small print saying there is a separate single item price, this tactic is perfectly legal. That means you’ll want to quick look at the sale sign before making your purchase.

Issuing coupons good on a future purchase

Another tactic is to offer you money off a future purchase rather than a discount at the register. It could come in the form of a custom coupon or a discount added to a loyalty card.

Either way, the store is sure to come out ahead. Either you forget to use the coupon before it expires, or you make a return trip and possibly buy more than you had planned.

There’s nothing wrong with taking advantage of a deal that includes a discount off a future purchase, but be sure it’s a store you regularly shop. It doesn’t make sense to go far out of your way specifically for a deal like this.

Offer rebates

Finally, stores may offer rebates with the hope you will forget to mail in for your money back. Current figures on how many rebates go unredeemed can be difficult to come by. Conventional wisdom seems to be that between 40-60 percent of rebates are never paid out – a figure that may have its origins in a 2005 Bloomberg Businessweek article. I’ve come across reports of redemption rates as low as single digits for smaller rebate values.

Regardless of the actual number, be aware a deal with a rebate attached may not be a deal if you fail to claim your rebate check.

In the end, retailers aren’t in the business of trying to save you as much as possible. No, they would like you to spend as much as possible. Knowing their sneaky ways to get you to buy more is the first step toward paying less.


The best couponers save hundreds of dollars every month at the grocery store. However, extreme couponers can end up living very extreme lifestyles to get those savings. For over five years, SavingsAngel.com has equalized the playing field – giving extreme savings to busy families who don’t have the time or ability to be an extreme couponer. Each week, SavingsAngel.com’s over 70 angels combine over 2,000 products on sale at local grocery and drug stores with an enormous database of over 2000 different manufacturer coupons. These combinations result in our members getting access to over 300 products each week for 50% off or better. Simply log in, choose the deals you want, print or clip only the coupons you need, and save hundreds of dollars a month at regional and national stores. Our angels will personally work with you to craft a plan that will help you buy healthier food at lower prices – helping you keep $200 to $400 in savings each month.

Josh Elledge is the Chief Executive “Angel” of SavingsAngel, Inc. – launched from his home in January 2007. A husband and father of three, he now appears each week on television, in eight newspapers, and a number of radio stations across the country teaching families how to cut their grocery bill in half using the Internet. Elledge created the technology found on SavingsAngel.com through the need to save his own family’s money. Successfully able to cut his own grocery bill from $600 a month to less than $300 a month, his message has reached hundreds of thousands of families. SavingsAngel.com is now growing rapidly throughout the country. You can watch a short video at SavingsAngel.com that will explain more information about how to cut your own grocery bill in half with the help of SavingsAngel.com!



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