It’s not really rocket science folks!



“Every solution to every problem is simple. It’s the distance between the two where the mystery lies.” ― Derek Landy, Skulduggery Pleasant

This will not be a discussion on how the electron microscope works enabling geneticists to explore, manipulate and splice DNA in the human body. I am quite sure there are hosts of people more informed and qualified than I on this topic.

It will however concern itself with Universal Pricing Codes (UPC) and the way folks seem to equate what the codes do with rocket science.

These codes to them are akin to strands of DNA and the material the codes refer to are immutable and at times written in stone. To a point that is true unless someone has tampered with either the codes or the items the codes refer to.

I was once told by a colleague that life is as easy as 1-2-3 but I tend to make it difficult like 5-7-9. At times that my be true.

It might not be gene splicing but well-meaning employees at times taking a few unapproved  short cuts through ignorance or laziness can lead to a host of problems further on down the road for someone else in the food chain.

One week ago while I was grocery shopping I purchased a large bottle of Ketchup. I usually put this tasty tomato topping plus relish, onions and a dill pickle on my burger.

The amount displayed on the bin’s tag indicated the price was a reasonable $5.65. I only needed one bottle and so I placed the item in my shopping cart and continued with my shopping trip.

Later that day as I was checking the items I had purchased I noticed that the notation on the cashier slip indicated I had purchased a twin pack and the cost was double what I expected it to be. It was too late to return to the store and debate the price so this time I let the matter slide.

One week later my curiosity was getting the absolute better of me. I pushed my cart into the aisle with the ketchup display and pulled out another “single” bottle of ketchup. I brought this item to one of the checkout clerk and ask the woman to please scan the item for me.

When she had finally scanned the item the single bottle according to its UPC code registered as a double pack at double the amount of its solo price.

With that in mind I buttonholed a passing store manager and told her the pricing situation. I had tried to explain this to the attending cashier but she did not see anything wrong with the price that appeared on her screen. She was the same clerk who had cashiered my order the previous week.

The manager and myself examined the ketchup display and noticed that there were a number of single bottles adjacent to a  double bottle display. The twin packs sold for twice the amount of the single.

Finally I could breathe a sigh of relief. In my opinion the cashier and the store manager must have thought I was a bit daft. By the way there were six more wrongly priced items in the bin.

The manager offered me either an extra bottle of ketchup I had been charged for or else a refund. Since two bottles of the stuff was more than I wanted or needed I took the refund.

After a few moments the manager explained that at one time they had part-time staff shelving the displays. “One of theses temps must have run out of space for the double display and decided to  physically separate these bottle duos” she said..

Well things like that do happen from time to time and not just in the grocery business.

I have now resolved to scrutinize my sales slips a lot more closely.

In my situation the store staff knew me and the exchange took place smoothly.

Again I have discovered it is better to watch the register screen when you are being cashiered out of a store than worry about socializing with the store staff.

Sometimes the mere monotony of a person’s job blinds him/her to the task they are performing. – gc







    • Well consider this Lisa…the error on till slips can create a tidy financial margin and profits for the stores doing the act. The hope is that a great many shopper are “too busy to bother” and pennies of inaccuracy lead to dollars of profit. Just a thought. 🙂


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