The High Cost Of Convenience


Time for a quick math question:

You are at the grocery store.  The Vidalia onions are 99 cents a pound.  The Cremini mushrooms are $2.99 per pound.  How much is one pound of Vidalia onions and one pound of Cremini mushrooms?

The answer: It depends.

If you go through the self-checkout at the store I frequent, the total is $3.98.  If you have their cashier ring up your groceries and don’t watch closely, there is a very good chance that you will spend $9.98!  The cashier will accidently ring the onion at $1.99 per pound, the higher price for yellow onions.  And the mushrooms?  They will transform, right before your eyes, to Shitakes.

Going to the grocery store shouldn’t be this difficult.  I would avoid this particular grocery store if it wasn’t so damn convenient.  My attorney prefers that I don’t mention the store by name, but you know the chain.  They have lots of locations in my area and their stores are large enough to carry almost all of the stuff I need.  If I stop shopping with them I will need to go to two or three stores to buy our groceries.  And yes, I still visit specialty stores like the Kosher meat market and Trader Joes as needed, but I find myself at the big store a couple of times per week.  And that means that I have the opportunity to get aggravated or ripped off a couple of times every week.  Some days it is only $1 or $2.  Sometimes, if I’m not paying close attention, it can be a lot more.

Take today.  I needed to grab some stuff to make tonight’s dinner.  I noticed that I was being charged $3.99 per pound for bulk garlic.  That would be OK if I was buying garlic.  I wasn’t.  The item in question was a bag of white mushrooms.  I had stayed quiet up to that point.  I had already noticed that she had overcharged me for a bag of onions and the orange pepper.  This was too much.  I pointed out the problem and the cashier started to argue with me.  First she had to inspect the mushrooms.  She didn’t understand how to read her screen and didn’t know which price referred to which item.  She was surprised when the incorrect price came off.  Then she asked me if these were special, Garlic Mushrooms.  I can’t make this stuff up.

I have come to the point where I just have them keep anything that rings up incorrectly, like the bag of Goldfish last week.  I may be ready to give up.  Can that many cashiers be that poorly trained?  Can that many items be incorrectly entered into their scanning system?  At what point does this cross from incompetence to intentional?

The high cost of convenience isn’t just money.  It can also be measured in aggravation.  And it may just be too much.


Picture – A Couple Bucks Here, A Couple Bucks There – David L Cunix