04 January, 2009

Getting Cheated At The Supermarket

Supermarkets are a low-margin business. They deal with shoplifting, spoilage, carelessness (dented cans and torn boxes) and accidents (Clean-up on Aisle 7!) all the time, and all that stuff hurts their earnings.

For the most part, we've become accustomed to some of the ways supermarkets try to improve the bottom line. Some of them are perfectly honest and rely on our desire for convenience or help with preparation - like selling pre-washed and pre-cut veggies at a higher price than bulk produce for example. Some of them are less honest, but still tolerated by most of us: using special spectrum lighting in various departments to make products appear fresher and more wholesome than they would under natural light; or packaging wilted vegetables under the fresher veggies in a shrinkwrapped tray; or extending the "fresh" shelf life of a cut of meat by reprinting the sale label with a later date, a lower price, and a MANAGER'S SPECIAL tag in bright orange.

And then, there are methods that are just plain dishonest, no matter how you look at it.

Take a look at the photo above. I took that picture with my cell phone camera at a local supermarket. on Shaker Road in Longmeadow, MA. It's a pre-cooked lobster on a white styrofoam tray, wrapped in plastic cling film. There is a price ticket at the top right-hand side of the picture. So far, so good, right?

Look under the lobster - nestled in there, under the little legs. That pink thing. That's a hot dog.

Yeah. They padded out the weight of the lobsters by hiding hot dogs underneath them.