Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Buy One, Get the Competition for Free

My Purchases

I actually needed to go to a grocery store, an office supply store and a drug store today. But my lady friend and my clients left me with no time to drive out to where all those stores are located. My gas tank was also less than a quarter full and I know Exxon is ready to hit me with four bucks a gallon any day now. Yes, I know the sign says $3.63 per gallon but that's just a trick. The moment I pull into the station the attendant will hit the digital sign switch and make it $3.99.9 or something close to that.

Anyway, I went to a neighborhood store instead. Dontcha know they actually stocked computer mailing labels, for my business printer model no less? I paid a little more, but not much, for the labels, and then I decided to check their grocery prices. They had my favourite soup on sale, two for one. But get this, I had to buy one of the Campbell's brand soups to get one of the store brand soups free. How absurd! Does Campbells really want me to check out the cheaper store brand?

The woman at the register was actually trained to explain this very unusual promotion to me. "You have to buy one of the other brand to the store brand for free." I acted like she was talking in Swahili to me. "Um, I have two of them," I responded. "But you have to buy the Campbell's to get the store brand for free." "Huh?"

She even made me tear the coupons out of the flyer which she gave me. Usually they just scan the same sales flyer behind the counter over and over again. I like that because I like to think it results in fewer trees being cut down.

So I went back to the shelves and found a Campbell's brand can and actually ended up with two of the store brand in my sack*. I probably paid too much for the second store brand but I was so inspired by the weird promotion that I realized it would result in an article for which I would be paid. So now my trip to the neighborhood store becomes a business expense. The mailing labels would have been a business expense but the soup becomes a research expense for my job as a journalist. Amazing, to say the least plus I bought some packing tape to go with the labels and some chips because they were also two for one, but for the same brand. I also bought some hair stuff just because I needed that anyway and the store ended up getting $30 out of my pockets. Well, some money from my pockets and eventually some from the account where my business expense checks come from.

I would have spent at least $45, maybe far more, if I went to a grocery store, an office supply store, and a different drug store. All that would not have included the donation to Exxon's very gross record profits. I still have less than a quarter of a tank of gas since the store I went to was in my neighborhood. I also had enough time remaining to write, take the picture, upload the picture, and post this article all on this same evening. An article for which I get paid, don't forget. In addition, my accountant says the soup, mailing labels, and packing tape are a legitimate business expense. Wow, will wonders never cease?

My Purchases

*Of course, I am still left wondering if some clever marketing person figured out that I would end up with two store brand soups in my sack. Then again, now that I put the whole promotion on the Internet the marketing firm will probably find it and punch their collective fists in the air in a celebration of sales victory. No worries, really, just more mystery about the total purchase.

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