We got a lot of response to Rich's Rant from Wednesday about howhis wife got a $1,200 quote on a Kenmore refrigerator at Sears. She returned two weeks later, over Black Friday weekend, because Sears was having a big sale. Suddenly the same fridge was priced at $1,500, with 15 percent off, or $1,275! Rich ranted that the company RAISED the price and then claimed it was on sale.
Sears called me. The company says the fridge was always $1,500, but it was originally on sale for 20 percent off (hence the $1,200). At some point on or before Black Friday, the discount was changed to only 15 percent off. This doesn't explain why the salesperson told Rich's wife the price was never $1,200, only to be embarrassed when she produced written proof.
But this official explanation intrigues me. Most of us believe we're going to get the best deals on Black Friday. Here's one case where the deal wasn't quite as good as it had been two weeks earlier.
Sneaky? At least one e-mailer who works at Sears says "no."
From Pete A.: "Jane, you're an idiot. I've worked at sears for 15 years and they don't do that. The refrigerator you were looking at is normally $1,519.99 in black. When you looked at it, first it was 20 percent off, making it $1,215.99. When you saw it next, it was probably on a different sale of 15 percent off making it $1,291.99. Sears has different sales usually about once a week. Now the people helping you may have been dumb, but Sears doesn't raise prices and then advertise them on sale. They may change the regular price of items from time to time like any store, but not to be sneaky."
Eugene B., who appears not to work at Sears, agrees with Pete (although Eugene did not call me an idiot):
"Your article on Sears Raising Prices only to mark them down is a good example of how difficult the pricing message is to communicate to consumers--- with some followup it appears that there were two different sales going on with a 20 percent Kenmore sale the first time and a 15 percent all appliance sale the second time. The sales person failed to inform the customer the first time that she was being quoted a sales price. Sears is not the only retailer--- auto dealers, supermarkets, and airlines all adjust prices, and the pricing message gets confused to the consumer."
But Gene B. is not a fan of what Sears did: "It has been my experience that most retailer pricing is lowest in early November. Just before Thanksgiving the prices in general rise so that you wind up paying more on Black Friday even with the 'huge discounts'. I tracked prices on several items I wanted to buy as Christmas gifts several years ago and was grateful I bought them in October. I continued watching prices for a few years and have stopped because the trend held. So, yes Rich and Jane, there are Scrooges out there and most work in retail."
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