Monday 28 November 2011

3 for 2 does not equal 1 for 2/3

Am I the only person to find the “3 for 2”, “2 for 1”, “buy one get one free” offers pointless because all I want is 1?

I  read an article yesterday which states that 50% of US households are single, so I think I can’t be the only one out there who wonders about the markets continual preoccupation with multi-buy offers.

I remember, in the days before the internet, needing to buy a single rail ticket between Sheffield and London and ending up being told by the booking clerk that what I needed was a return. No I politely said what I had asked for was a single. He quietly explained I should buy a return because it was cheaper. More recently, a friend also told me of cases where buying 2 return air tickets, and only using one half of each, has worked out cheaper than buying one return. Result = empty seats.

Then there are those supermarkets offers of the buy one mango get one free type. But if you are not going to eat the second mango then why buy it, even for zero cost? Result = gluttony or waste. Instead, why not have singles supermarkets, where buying one pork chop instead of a pack of 3 is possible? Or why can’t supermarkets let you sign over your second mango to someone else in return for their second pack of oranges say? Or credit your card with a free mango on your next visit? Or let 2 people share a “2 for 1” offer between them? Or where the zero cost mango could be given to a food charity as your donation?

Next there are the Vouchers for Schools Schemes. Not knocking it, its a great idea. A tiny amount for each transaction translates into real Computers for Schools across the huge volume turnover at supermarkets. But here too there is a singleton factor to the equation. When supermarkets first started giving vouchers for schools, I asked my till server if she wanted them for her kids school. No she replied she was not allowed to take them. OK fair enough, but as a consequence I’m always on the hunt for someone with kids of school age or someone who looks like a grandparent to hand my vouchers off to. I remember once, having done a huge shop one day and then buying a whole load of wine, I had this enormous pile of vouchers, and would you believe it a supermarket devoid of obvious parents! After several attempts to find a person with kids I’m on my way out of the shop when I spot a women at the other end of the car park. It turns out she was a teacher who happily took my very large pile. Why can’t supermarkets have a drop box for each local school?

Then there are 2 for 1 meal offers – what good are these when you are eating on your own? They are in effect a surcharge of being a singleton. No different than single supplement room charges.

Today another of these silly offers. I needed to get my eyes tested and the Optician has a “buy one get one free” offer. But I have perfectly good frames for my glasses, I just need new lenses. On the other hand I only have one pair of prescription sunglasses at the moment and that is never enough, especially when living in sunny tropical climes, and so really needed to buy a second pair.

First the optician costed out my lenses. When I sad I wanted my sun glasses changed as well out came the buy one get one free offer. So here’s how it works out

Glasses : Lens £102.50 x 2 + Frame £144.50 = £349.00

Sunglasses :  Lenses £66.00 x 2 + Frame £29.00 = £161.00

Eye test - £20.00

Total £530.00 (Extortionate!)

Discount £161.00

Paid £369.00 (Still expensive! With a need to change my lenses every 18 months to 2 years that is £15.00 - £20.00 per month cost)

I am buying exactly the same frames as I have already for my ordinary glasses. This means I now have 3 frames the same!

Can someone please tell me why I should be buying an unwanted frame, that someone has spent time making, that materials have been used to make, that energy has been used to make and which in effect is surplus, it is waste?  result – unrequired production, waste.

Why not say that instead I could have £144.50 off my sunglasses? With this, I might have even spent more money and chosen a more expensive frame as the choice for sunglasses within this offer is somewhat limited. As it was, I’d spent time looking at their range of frames and was well and truly non plused by the pitiful choice. Lots of all too similar frames, almost all rectangular in shape, black, blue, pink, violet in colour but little in the way of my rich autumnal browns, greens, and reds to choose from. This wasn’t a cultural acclimatisation moment of too much choice, they were just a boring selection. So I ended up with quite ordinary stayed chocolate brown frame. I want to be more adventurous in my sunglasses, but nothing individual, nothing distinctive, nothing very colourful. However, for what amounts to £161.00-144.50 = £16.50 for my sunglasses I am not complaining money wise, it just seems warped logic and wasteful over production to me. 

I just hate these offers! Rant over!

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