5 Grocery Store Shopping Scams to Avoid

In today’s economy, many families have no option but to get creative with their grocery budgets. Although there are a number of ways to save money whilst shopping, grocery stores are trying to get you to spend more at the same time. Here are a few of the scams and deceptive tactics that stores use to get you to spend more without your knowledge.

1. Smaller Quantities
One of the scams that you’ll find at the grocery stores recently is offering smaller quantities than what you were previously buying for the same prices. For example, if you were paying $3.50 for 64 ounces of orange juice, today, you may be paying the same price for just 58 ounces of juice.
Many manufacturers have adopted this tactic and decided to lower the amount of what they are selling instead of raising their prices. This means that you’re getting less for what you are used to spending. Many consumers don’t even notice the difference, but it is definitely happening. This may require you to buy more units just to get what you used to get in lesser amount of money.

2. Buy 2, Get 1 Absolutely Free
In many cases, grocery stores run two for one or three for two specials on items. They advertise the total price of the items instead of the unit price. While sometimes, this is a legitimate deal that you can take advantage of, other times; it’s really not that great. If you look at how much you’re paying per unit, it comes out to be the same price as if you just bought one. Grocery stores do this to get you to buy more than one unit in the interest of saving money. Many a times, this ends up costing you a lot more money because you end up buying more than what you need.

3. Cash Back or Rebate Programs
In some grocery stores, they offer cash back programs that give you a certain percentage cash back on many of the items that you buy. They’ll advertise how much the item can cost after rebate. While there’s nothing wrong with these programs in general, sometimes you don’t end up getting the money you’re entitled to. You have to jump through a few hoops like fill out a form or do something else to get your money. You have to be very careful when it comes to participating in these rewards or frequent shopper programs that grocery stores offer as most of them are just an attempt to entice you to buy things to be able to participate in their offer.

4. Fraudulent Food
Another common scam that grocery stores engage in is selling fake food. They advertise something as one food, when it is actually something completely different. For example, this technique is commonly used with seafood. They might sell something labelled as crab meat, when in reality; the meat is from an inexpensive fish. One species of fish may be sold as another. It can be very difficult to verify exactly what foods are while you are in the store, but it can be done if you pay a closer attention. This commonly happens with alcohol, spices, fruit juice, and baby formula as well.

5. Clearance
Another strategy that some grocery stores use is to sell items on “clearance.” The problem with this is that the prices may or may not be marked down. Sometimes, they just stick a clearance sticker on the item and put it on a different shelf in hopes that customers will flock to it. Many customers see that and buy it without actually considering if they are saving any money. So, if you see something on clearance, think about whether you really need to buy it or not. Otherwise, you might end up spending money on something that you didn’t plan on buying. At any grocery store, clearance doesn’t always mean lower prices. Sometimes the stores do it just to sell out the excess stuff that is otherwise lying unsold and may perish in some time. So instead of taking a loss, they see if anyone will buy it first.

Watch out for these grocery store scams and you should be able to keep more of your hard-earned money in your pocket. Closely look at clearance prices, rebate terms, and the size of your products. You also need to make sure that you’re buying the products you think you’re buying every time. When your store tells you that you can buy 2 for the price of 1 or some other quantity, make sure that the unit price is a good deal. A little bit of common sense can go a long way in saving you good amount of money.

[Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/walmartcorporate/5684720360/]
[Image License: Creative Commons. See Image above]

Mark is a blogger with eTitleLoan, a company that provides car title loans. eTitleLoan helps you borrow money based on the value of your car and not on your credit report.

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