Living in today’s world of static incomes and rising prices, avoiding a retail rip off that could plunge us into financial disaster just makes good sense. Over the years, I’ve learned to be aware of the strategies shopkeepers and retailers use to separate me from my cash. Have you ever spotted any of these strategies?
1. Limited Time Offers
Sure, some styles or selections may be around for only a few days or weeks, but I’m not going to let that cloud my personal decision making process. After all, “once in a lifetime opportunities” seem to come around about every two weeks … or less.
2. Selling the Payment
Car salespeople are the worst with real estate agents a close second. “Payments” disguise the true cost in many cases. If I need financing for a certain item, I arrange it at my bank first, then negotiate my best deal as a cash payer.
3. Downplaying MY Research
That salesperson in the electronics department or at the car dealership sure does know her products, but my own research may reveal some flaws with the product that she isn’t readily willing to divulge. When I know those flaws, I can make a better purchasing decision.
4. Tricky Prices
Have you noticed the bright pricing stickers being used on shelves today? The prices aren’t lower, they’re just more visible and eye-catching. Some brands will go out of their way to highlight their price even though it was cheaper all along. Try to scan the shelves and make sure that apparent markdown is real.
5. Today Only Deals
“Today Only” deals play on your emotions — fear, jealousy, greed. If a salesperson says a deal is ONLY good for today, I walk away unless I’m certain this is the EXACT product I need and the price is dead on.
6. Brand Claims
Here, gasoline companies are my favorite target. I’ll let you in on a little secret: all gasoline is the same when it arrives at the distribution facility. Shhh, they don’t want you to know! At the distribution facility, minute quantities of various additives are poured into the ka-jillion gallon tanks and ABRACADABRA it becomes a “clean” fuel! Most name brand claims are just hype.
7. Buy Two For $5
Does one item only cost $1.99? I’m constantly amazed at how grocery stores will trick customers with this price tag strategy. Make sure the math makes sense. If 2 for $5 really IS a good deal, do I actually need two? Will one of them go past its expiration before I use it? Will one ring up at $2.50?
8. Twelve Months Same As Cash
If I can’t afford that dining room suite or laptop today, there’s a good chance I won’t be able to afford it in 12 months either. Usually, if a purchaser doesn’t pay in full before the 12 months are up, the credit issuer will back-date the interest. This can also have a detrimental effect on your credit score.
9. Extended Warranties
Extended warranties almost NEVER pay off. Either the product will last beyond the warranty period or getting it fixed will be less than the cost of the extended warranty. Do you think those warranty companies don’t make money?
10. Branded Credit Card Offers
Opening too many credit accounts WILL show up on a credit report and has the potential to have a negative effect on a credit score. When you have too many credit accounts, there’s a greater chance you’ll forget to pay one of them and then the hammer drops! No one wants to overspend or feel exploited after making a purchase.
In our current economy, inadvertently falling for a retail rip off becomes especially painful and even embarrassing. Learn to avoid these retailing come-ons and you’ll be better able to keep more cash in your pocket.