5 Dishonest Pricing Gimmicks That Need to Die

Sale background with percent
Wouldn't it be nice if you could just trust the price on the price tag?

Unfortunately there's a lot of marketing that goes into that price, and much of it is less than honest. Sales offering big discounts aren't what they seem. Low subscription prices evaporate after a given amount of time. And many prices you see have been artificially inflated so that they can be discounted at a later date.

These and other marketing tricks take what should be a simple piece of information -- the fair value of a piece of merchandise -- and turn it into a mystery. And consumers shouldn't have to play Sherlock Holmes to figure out if they're getting a good deal.

Unfortunately, many of these gimmicks are so entrenched in the retail industry that it's unlikely they'll be going away anytime soon. Still, we can imagine a perfect world of honest prices. Here are a few pricing gimmicks that we'd love to see go extinct.

Matt Brownell is the consumer and retail reporter for DailyFinance. You can reach him at Matt.Brownell@teamaol.com, and follow him on Twitter at @Brownellorama.

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The world runs on what? In a single word, FEAR.

Fear that you are not rich enough, pretty enough, hansom enough, well enough, accepted enough, loved enough, fed enough, etc.

And as long as we live in 'FEAR' we can be blackmailed, cheated, con'ed, and overcharged. Go to a doctor with a 'boo-boo' do you ask the price to fix it, NOPE, the FEAR of HURT or disfigurement or infection says to your brain, pay pay pay, no matter how much.

So, until we figure a way to overcome FEAR, we will always be at the mercy of those that want to take advantage, be it at the pump, supermarket, mall or wherever. Wake Up America, Wake UP..

August 05 2013 at 11:57 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply


August 05 2013 at 4:45 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to michael_vici's comment

Very good..

August 06 2013 at 1:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You took the words right out of my mouth !!!!!

August 06 2013 at 1:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


with car wash

This looks like a good price as you drive 40 mph, so you pull in only to find out that the gas is actually $4.75/gallon. At 40 mph you couln't read all the fine print that goes along with this price. And at $4.75/gallon it's actually higher than the place across the street. Do you get back in the car and drive across the street or just get fooled and buy the more expensive gas where you are. You shouldn't have to make this decision. I believe gas stations are reqired to post their prices so that they are visible to passing motorists. That way we're not trying to see the pumps at 40 mph when their 30 yards off the street. This creates for unsafe drivers trying to see who has cheaper gas prices. We ALL want to spend less for gas. So when prices of gas soared, stations began this gimmick with reducing the visible price by about .10/gallon to draw you into their pumps. And at first it did draw us into their pumps. But now we are forced to drive and try to decipher fine print. The idea of visible posted prices was designed to eliminate exactly what is going on. It's very unsafe and deceptive. If you stand outside any gas station you'll realize that less than 3% of motorists getting gas actually get a car wash. So why post a sign that doesn't pertain to 97% of motorists. It's pure deception, and nothing more. It's time that the politicians step in and change this unsafe practice. Oh and if you look at the top companies profits you'll notice some of your friendly fuel companies right at or near the top. Nothing like a little greed, but the greedy kickbacks our politicians get from oil companies probably keeps our elected officials from seeing the problem with this deceptive practice.

August 05 2013 at 4:42 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to t.tmb's comment

They also get a tax break from us, and military protection, and are allowed to take people's land at will for their pipelines, all this while poisoning us with their polluton.

August 06 2013 at 1:27 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

.....I would go across the street.....screw 'em !!!!!

August 06 2013 at 1:49 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Fine print and legalspeak needs to be done away with as well. Those disclaimers are so long and meant to numb the mind with an overlaod of gibbish-nonsense/BS.

August 05 2013 at 4:39 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Housing price rip-off.. Buyer purchases a 'junker' for 10 cents on the dollar, gives it some cheap paint and carpeting, and puts it back on the market for double to triple the neighborhood's potential pricing. Then after it is well advertised for a month or two, the buyer drops the price by tens of thousands and along comes a buyer that 'thinks' he or she is getting a 'good' deal, only to move in and find that everything wrong was covered up by the seller. And before you say, the buyer should have known or inspected the place, as a prior contractor that refurbished homes, some of these 'shysters' are extremely good at 'masking' problem areas, and some just do not do the proper prep work, so that a paint job or such will appear good, but not last a year or two.

I now find that many of the 'Short' sale homes are being taken off the market by the banks that are buying up the homes at double the 'value', and then selling at two to three times the 'Short' sale price, thus getting all their money back, taking two massive tax breaks, and screwing the unsuspecting buyers. It is a major Con Job, and is going on in nearly every state.

August 05 2013 at 3:22 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

This has been going on since the first merchant ions ago. Retail, suggested retail price, original price are all for the suckers, if paid. Shopping, remembering, taking notes,comparing prices on anticipating merchandise is the responsibility of the buyer. And always, the big print giveth and the small print taketh away.

August 05 2013 at 2:28 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Yes, time was only real estate was, Caveat Emptor.

August 05 2013 at 2:15 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

"Making some prices "members-only" makes the discount even more enticing, and most shoppers don't realize that the cards are used to compile information on customers' buying habits."

Of course we realize—we just don't care, or we even welcome it. Kroger, for example, tracks my buying habits so that all the coupons they mail me are for products I was going to buy anyway! Who would mind this??

There's nothing negative about members reward cards.

August 05 2013 at 1:20 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Jonathan Mandeall

What about 9/10 of a cent for gasoline?? Give me a break

August 05 2013 at 12:39 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Take one look at your phone bill.Tthese people are crazy. I guess as long as Uncle gets his cut all is well. Cost of drugs is the same way!

August 05 2013 at 11:59 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply