- Buy two, get one for a price you won’t find out until it’s too late
- Money-making tricks have moved from highway to hi-tech
- Their maths is too complicated to calculate when you’re tired
When struggling punk rocker Adam Ant in a moment of clarity in 1981 painted a white stripe across his face and sang about a dandy highwayman while dressed as a pirate, it’s unlikely he would have known that 36 years later, the song Stand & Deliver would turn out to be about my local Co-op. At least, that’s how I see it.
Stand and deliver: Adam Ant as the Dandy Highwayman.
Highwaymen traditionally lurked in the dark recesses of pre-supermarket-lined dirt tracks waiting for unsuspecting commuters to stray into their path and hopefully hand over their money for very little in the way of an exchange of goods and services.
Now they lurk indoors, men and women in dark rooms in the tech department.
I’m sick of getting ‘robbed’ at checkouts as my quest for a bargain-based, dinner-related easy life is held in check by automatic overcharging at the till. It’s rife and it’s not just the Co-op – but that happens to be where this episode took place.
‘Two for £6’, screamed the proud Co-op ready meal advertising.
‘100% British meat, apart from when we use European meat, says the small print’ – so not strictly 100% British.
‘Microwave in four minutes’, so not strictly ready either.
Should I really be trusting these people with my six pounds?
‘100% British meat, excluding continental meats?’ Eh? That’s not 100%, according to maths.
But I was off guard and felt the offer was too exciting to pass. I picked up two £3.59 chicken chow meins for £6 – or just £3 each.
Discounts tend to be worth having when they’re around 15% and this came in at a generous £1.18 off the normal price of £7.18, or 16.4%. I was as impressed as I was naive.
I picked up a bunch of bananas, slightly green like I like them, some other fruit and bits and joined the back of the queue, where my fellow commuters and I shuffled past Christmas decorations, next year’s Easter eggs and Qatar World Cup memorabilia towards the ONE open till. It would be a long wait.
Spot the difference? The serving suggestion on the right omits the bin.
Shortly before what felt like Christmas Eve my turn to pay had arrived – and drama ensued.
When the till operator tried to scan my ‘meals’, the upturned plastic tray revealed one of those confusing stickers that obliterates the original bar code. Apparently, one of my glorified pot noodles was now on an even more special offer!
A further 90p had been knocked off. Suddenly it felt like it really was Christmas.
The catch was that in a few hours the meal itself would also be off. It may have been Christmas Eve but it was also Use-by Eve.
For festive maths fans, it meant that the two meals were no longer £6 but a mere £5.10 – a romantic dinner for two for less than the price of two cups of Starbucks coffee.
Of course, the easy life doesn’t work like that. The highway-people in the price programming unit had seen to that. The deal, I was told, was ‘two for £6’ whether I chose two fresh meals or one fresh one and one almost off one.
I was offered the chance to hold up the queue and fight back through the crowds to forage for a second fresh one.
I wondered, what would Adam Ant do?
The total saving should be £1.18, increasing to £2.08 with the additional discount. At the till it was revealed to be a mere 28p because one meal was approaching its use-by deadline.
Adam Ant would probably slap on the face paint, pirouette back to the chill zone, singing ‘Prince Charming, Prince Charming, ridicule is nothing to be scared of’ to an unimpressed, frankly irritated audience of bargain losers, and claim his rightful double fresh meal deal while singing the highwayman song on the way back to the till, vindicated!
But I’m too kind for that. The quarter of a billion people behind me in the queue had bedsits to go to.
I’d been scammed and the highway-geeks had won again. My discount was now only worth 28p – or 4.4%, which is rubbish.
I went home and zapped my almost off, four-minutes-from-being-ready meal for four minutes, took one taste and threw it away. It was more off than almost off.
I offered the fresh one to my daughter but she’d seen the packet and just gone vegetarian, she said.
From horseback to electronic horse trading, from highway to hi-tech. It’s clever manipulation of supermarket deals from the tech department that we need to be wary of these days.
Money saving tips
1. Don’t shop tired.
2. Always check the dates, check for sneaky stickers and check the receipt.
3. Microwave chow mein is not a great Christmas dinner, even if it’s not really Christmas.
How have you been overcharged at the till? Do tell. Or enjoy some Adam and the Ants.
Courtesy: Daily Mail Online