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Convenience Store Pricing and Chewing gum

In my last post, I attacked the convenience store for selling me less coffee for the same price, and paying for the privilege by buying their travel mug. Today, It’s about chewing gum.. and something I did not know, but you should! No, no, It’s not about the gum itself, its about retail franchise policies.

A few weeks back I got a free sample of gum on the net, via a special offer. I liked it very much-  very tasty, sugar free and best of all, the sample was free. (That’s one of my frugal hobbies, searching for freebies via other blogs, coupon sites, and such) But anyway…

On an errand in another town, I decided it was time for a coffee break. In the store,  I noticed a coupon at the coffee stand at 7-11 for $1 off this particular gum. WOW! Great! I don’t buy much candy or gum, but this could be a good exception – a product I already liked, and at a significant savings. A whole buck off? How much could a pack of gum cost, anyway?

The deal was – any size coffee, and the coupon would get you a $1 off the gum. So, I figured, a giant sized coffee that I already committed to purchasing,  – at that particular store (not my usual neighborhood store) and I would get the coupon and the gum.

To my surprise, the coffee was .79 !  Hurray.. So I grabbed the coupon, and the gum, and got $1 off the $1.39 price of the gum, and paid only .79 for coffee. A great day.. ( I know, I know – its pennies, but its a moral victory )

Returning to my usual neighborhood store the next day, another 7-11 franchise, I looked for the coupon for another pack of gum.  No coupons.  Anywhere. I asked the clerk – she knew nothing.  Okay, I decided to grab a few when I was at the store where I got the original coupon. Fast forward a few days….  I am back at my neighborhood store – coupon in hand, coffee in hand, gum in hand, and the sale is rung up.
Imagine my amazement when I find the gum was .50 MORE at this store! Granted I was still getting  $1 off the price, but essentially I was paying over twice as much for the gum.  (.89 for the pack  versus .39 – it’s not so drastic without the $1 off.)

I always thought franchises had a pricing policy – special retail agreements with vendors and the corporate office, etc….  Apparently, not only do they not have to all display the same offers, but pricing can be vastly different.

As it was explained to me in this case, they had to honor the coupon since it was corporate issued in agreement with the manufacturer, (and the store got their buck back when they mailed it in) but they did not have to display the offer or make the coupons available.
I suspect that the owner of the store anticipated this promotion and jacked up the price of the gum….  but then again I can be a bit cynical and suspicious at times.

It’s not a big deal, but it gives me another lesson. Never assume the deal is the same from one store to the next. I find that to be true especially in buying gas. I usually buy at Hess around the corner from my home, and expect all Hess stations to have the same price. They don’t. Its all about how many stations are near them, and what those stations are charging  – price wars in real time.

But that’s another article for another day.

ABOUT AUTHOR / Andi

Andi is a Marketing Assistant at ACCC. He is passionate about supporting financial literacy efforts and helping to educate people on the Talking Cents blog!

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