Some Stores Trick You With Fake ‘Sales’

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Retailers’ advertised sale prices may really not be that great of a deal.

Don’t be so quick to celebrate saving $30 on that new set of sale-priced dishes.

It turns out many retailers trick consumers into thinking they’re getting a great deal when they shop during a big sale. In reality, many retailers simply bump up items’ original prices, then mark the prices down, duping customers into thinking they’re scoring a big discount.

“Thanks to a combination of slick pricing, frequent couponing and confusing discounting, retailers routinely trick consumers into thinking they got a great deal on an item — when in fact they paid way more than they should have,” MarketWatch said.

Earlier this year, we told you about a J.C. Penney worker who claimed he was fired after revealing Penney’s sales practices.

J.C. Penney isn’t the only retailer that’s been accused of fooling customers into thinking they’re saving a bunch of money when they’re not. According to Consumer Reports:

For instance, in past shopping trips to Kohl’s, we saw “sale” items priced as high as or higher than the manufacturer’s suggested list price. In one case, a set of T-Fal cookware marked down from $199.99 to $159.99 was still $10 more than T-Fal’s list price and $32 more than we would have paid on So comparison-shop, starting with a Web search and the product name and model.

How can you avoid falling for a phony sale? Here are a few tips:

  • Check it out. Even if you think you’re getting a great deal, don’t be afraid to spend a few minutes checking on an item’s price. Matthew Ong, a retail analyst with, told MarketWatch that consumers should check a product’s price at multiple locations, including a couple of big-box stores, Amazon and one or two other stores where they routinely shop.
  • Wait and see. If you don’t need an item immediately, you could consider using the Hukkster browser add-in. According to MarketWatch, it sends you an alert when your selected items either go on sale or a coupon is issued.
  • Know when to buy. It’s not a great idea to buy a new pool at the beginning of summer. But if you wait until July, chances are that stores will mark the items down to sell, hoping to clear space for fall items. Same with clothes and other seasonal items.

I have found that there are certain stores that seem to have incredibly high original prices on their items. So I shop at stores like that only when they’re having a big sale and I have additional coupons to use. I have fallen for fake sales on more than one occasion. It’s frustrating.

Have you fallen for a fake “sale”? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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