Words On Wednesday

2015-12-02 Misleading Advertising

As I recover from turkey overdose, I’d like to discuss a frustrating Thanksgiving/Black Friday experience.

On Thanksgiving, my wife came across an advertisement for Toys”R”Us, claiming to offer a Cadillac Escalade children’s car for $150 off. Hot dog, that’s a steal. My family and my wife’s family had discussed going in half to get one of these for our oldest son, since he loved playing with it in the store. The $350 that it sells for in store is a little steep, but $200 is a steal and that divides evenly into $100 from each family. Though I have a personal vendetta against Thanksgiving shopping, Toys”R”Us opened at 6pm on Thanksgiving day and we would be able to stop by to pick up the car quickly.

We stopped by my family’s home to drop the kids off so they wouldn’t have to wait in line with us, but my cousin caught us at the door and pointed out a vital piece of information the original ad left off. The deal was for $150 off the MSRP, not the standard Toys”R”Us price. In store, the car sells for $350. The MSRP for the car is $450. That means that with the deal, the car would go for $300, only $50 off the normal price.

Don’t get me wrong, $50 saved is nice. However, fighting traffic to get there, waiting outside for the doors to open, stampeding in and hoping to goodness that they haven’t sold out before we can get our hands on one isn’t worth a $50 difference. I’m not going to ruin my Thanksgiving just for a slight discount on a gift we don’t absolutely have to have. We stayed home, at turkey, and relaxed with family. It was fantastic.

Though our Thanksgiving went well without any sort of retail experience to speak of, this sort of trend really bugs me. Purveyors will advertise products at so much of a discount, but the actual money saved over the normal price is far less than the advertised savings. I understand this is the nature of capitalism, and sellers must do what they can to bring in customers, but it’s so dishonest. Not false advertising, necessarily, but definitely misleading.

Amazon does it all the time. Actually, now that I think about it, Amazon’s ridiculous catering toward Prime members is far more frustrating than any individual deal, but that’s another rant for another day. Alas, they’ll advertise a product at enormous discounts, but the price isn’t much lower than their everyday price. Oh, you can get this $150 watch for $50 today only! People jump on the deal, buy it before the discount is over, only to see that the normal price is $75. Sure, you’re only paying a third of the MSRP, but you’re only getting $25 the price you can get it for any other day.

These prices are undeniably better than standard prices for the rest of the year, but is it really worth it? Is it worth fighting the crowds and wasting otherwise relaxing time with family just to save a few bucks off Christmas gifts? I’m not going so far as to agree with Mint and say we shouldn’t buy any gifts at all, but this season should be less about scoring the best gifts at the lowest prices, and more about celebrating with family and friends.

If you didn’t get that massive TV for 50% off sticker price, it’s going to be ok. Save up a little money, buy it when it’s properly within your budget, and avoid the intense feeling of buyer’s remorse after you see how much you spent on gifts this year.

Meta:

Words: 616 | Characters: 3399 | Sentences: 31

Paragraphs: 8 | Reading Level: 11-12th Grade

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