Duping the dupes

A busy week for me. I have to attend a wedding in July (no, not mine) and as it’s Scotland, the stag party starts this weekend. So I have to get ready. I am also expected to wear a kilt at the wedding. Anyone points a camera at me and I’ll use it to check their colon for polyps.

Cafe Girl is off until Thursday, I am off from Thursday to next Wednesday. So she will be quite relaxed and complacent upon my return. That’s when I’ll have my revenge.

Today I read about the terrible, terrible supermarkets taking advantage of the innumerate idiots churned out by modern education. No wonder they used to do that ‘computers for schools’ thing in supermarkets. If they gave the kids books instead of computers they might learn something useful instead of the most appropriate position for a blow job or how to change the dashboard in a Lamborghini.

There were times in the past when I bought two half-bottles of whisky instead of a whole one. It’s not exactly calculus to work out that if a half costs £9 and a whole costs £20, then two halves for £18 is a better deal. If in doubt, they put the price per litre in little writing at the bottom of the label. Pick the option with the lowest unit price. This is not difficult, people.

You don’t need university level maths for this. Look –

individual item prices of larger ‘special value’ packs being more expensive. Which? highlighted Tesco selling four cans of Green Giant Original Sweetcorn for £2, but six cans were proportionately more expensive at £3.56;

£2 divided by 4 is 50p. Hardly a neuron flickered for that sum. So 6 cans should be £3, so the 4-can pack is a better deal. Really, who can’t work that out in seconds? And who the hell wants six cans of indigestible seeds in salty water anyway? If you want that much arse-shotgun ammo there is something wrong with your head in the first place.

seasonal offers, where the higher price only applied out of season. Which? found Ocado advertised a giant easter egg on sale for £7.49 for 10 days in January, before selling it on ‘offer’ at £5 later on.

Here I apply a very simple logic. Is the thing I’m looking at worth the price they’re asking for it? If yes, I might decide to buy it (or might decide I don’t really want it). If no, I don’t buy it. A giant Easter egg for £5? Sounds like a pretty good deal to me, depending on their definition of ‘giant’. What the previous price was is of no consequence. Is it worth the price they’re asking now?

When I was working at Local Gadget Shop for a week, I saw ‘wifi printers’ on sale. Interesting idea. You have one wireless printer and can send to it from all your gadgets (two netbooks, a few laptops, a Hudl and a Kindle Fire) without having to swap wires or files around. The lowest priced ones were around £50. But reloading with ink was the same price. I decided to leave it for now. It’s still under consideration though. No wires and not having to transfer files to the only desktop linked to a printer does have a considerable appeal.

However, there are other money priorities above that new gadgetry at the moment and I don’t really need it right now. It can wait. As can the continual expense of the ink the damn things need.

I’d pay £50 for a wireless printer without a qualm. But I’m not so keen on being locked in to paying another £50 every time it needs ink. Some research is needed into whether the much cheaper generic cartridges will work. Some printers spot them and refuse to print with them.

You could argue that the printer manufacturers are duping you by selling you a cheap printer then charging a fortune for the ink. Yet all you have to do is look at the printer specs then take a couple of paces to the wall of ink cartridges and see what they cost. It really isn’t difficult.

When I can’t be bothered firing up the espresso machine I use Percol instant espresso. It’s the best instant I’ve found. It’s not cheap and here it’s only available in Morrison’s. If I see it on offer I stock up. Even so, they don’t fool me by saying ‘on offer’ with 10p off. I know the price of this coffee and watch for £1 off.

You only get duped if you let yourself be duped. All those price labels have a unit cost in little letters at the bottom. Compare those, not the overall price.

The CMA now has to examine the evidence compiled by Which?, before deciding whether to launch a full inquiry or push for new legislation.

We don’t need a law to deal with this. We have far too many laws already. All we need is for people to stop being such total bloody idiots and learn to think for themselves.

The government doesn’t want that to happen. All those nannying organisations who make a living by patting people on the head and saying ‘It’s okay, we’ll think for you’ don’t want that to happen. They all want you dependent and drone-like.

If it’s going to happen, you’ll have to do it yourself. For many, that’s a very novel concept. I say, give it a go.

You might find you like it.


22 thoughts on “Duping the dupes

    • I had to use up excess holiday from last year by the end of April. The 7-day week at the start of the year precluded any chance of holiday so it’s getting used now. Good timing as it turned out. I can still take time off in May and July, so all plans are ticking along nicely.


  1. Leg, when did you last see a BSOD (Blue Screen Of Death)? Can you even remember in which decade you saw it? Computers and software have improved so much since WindowsME.
    Printers are also computers though but they haven’t improved since about the time of Charles Babbage.
    SO not only are printers the veritable spawn of Satan but outdated, low rent and ‘stoopid’ demonic offspring at that. Ask any tech guy, printers-especially wireless ones- are pure evil. Why do you think there are so many “Print Shops” out there?

    Sure the idea of it, of all your computers connecting effortlessly, wirelessly, is sexy…erotic even but as in real life, the dream is seldom fulfilled in reality. If you do buy a wifi-jet printer then also buy stock in Zantac and other stomach acid reducers.

    Get yourself an old netbook/laptop and use it as a print server. If you want to keep printing costs down then grab a 2nd hand (or even first hand) monochrome laser printer. A RICOH ‘disposable’ £30 laser printer and one of your Friends (if you have such things) Kid’s old netbook (running Win7 for favourite) sitting on top as a server.


    • I have an old HP laser printer and a spare laptop. The printer is obsolete because it needs the old Centronics connection. So I’ll do it that way. For free 😉


      • Sounds like a job you should plan a whole day for (like one of the upcoming Bank Hellidaze)…although connecting up a printer always seems to take a day or so no matter the age or flavour of printer. Once you have gotten it up and running though it will probably run bulletproof for aeons. My old serial port-300dpi laser printer+ old laptop print server combo did….about 5 years I think…and even then it was only the paper feed sheet separator on the printer that broke beyond repair.

        Before you start however you might just want to check your old laptop, see if it is so old that it needs a wifi pcmia card (better than trying a wifi usb dongle). You can get them cheap on ebay or email me and I’ll have a look in the back of the Cupboard Of Doom…I should have one …somewhere…if Mrs Dwarf hasn’t….


  2. A couple of years ago I took a picture of a “special offer” in Tesco: “Fruit Pastilles 55p. Any 3 for £2”. What a bargain! 🙂
    One that I (unfortunately) didn’t get a picture of: Tesco was selling a 1 litre can of beer for £1.99. The label gave the price/pint and the price /litre which was £2.01/litre. I guess the explanation is that they converted it to price/pint then back again, rounding it both times but somebody should have noticed. And, as I pointed out to their customer service people, it’s easy to work out 1 litre at £1.99 is £1.99/litre but when they tell me the per litre price of (e.g.) a 354ml container I now have no idea whether or not they’re telling the truth.


  3. Hammer, Nail, Head.

    It’s an indictment of our inadequate maths teaching rather than ‘supermarket trickery’. Perhaps ‘shopping’ should be added to the National Curriculum’ ?

    When our local Tesco had Bounty bars on ‘offer’ at £2 for a pack 7, they flew off the shelves. Sadly, their ‘regular’ packs of 4 for a quid, seemed less popular.

    In one respect though, I have to agree with Which? that Tesco does deliberately mislead customers. With different pack sizes of the •same• product, some show their unit price in p/kg, and others in p/100g to confuse the natives.


  4. Check out eBay or amazon for print servers, small dongles that plug into your printers USB socket, and go straight to your WiFi router. No need for a desktop.


  5. Leggy,
    You might want to be a bit careful where printers are concerned, as printer ink seems to be one of the last great unreported cons around. If you are buying an inkjet printer that you’re not going to use much, buy an HP unit, since the thing that goes wrong on inkjets is the jet units themselves; they block up over time.

    Most companies save money and put the inkjet units in the printer its self, and use the ink refills merely as reservoirs. HP cartridges have the ink jets built into the cartridges, which are (with slight modification) fairly easily refilled. So, on HP kit you can extend the life of the cartridges reasonably cheaply, and if the jets ever get bunged up, just buy another cartridge.


  6. Another “me, too” over kiddon pricing. I shop regularly at Asda and Tesco and Tesco take the lead when it comes to these “four for a pound, six for two pounds” scams.

    I like Kenco Millicano if I have to have instant. I don’t buy unless it’s “on offer” but even then you have to watch what you’re doing at either store. The refill packets contain less than the tins which sell for the same price so I always buy tins if available. Afterwards, being a bloke, I find the tins useful for storing odd screws, fuses, springs and so on; unlabelled, of course, to give an air of mystery. Nestlé do a similar coffee product and its large tin contains 10% less than two small ones.

    Tesco are also notable for prebreaking your biscuits so you save energy by having to chew them less.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “Tesco are also notable for prebreaking your biscuits so you save energy by having to chew them less.”

      Reminds me of the (very) old joke as a kid:

      “Mr Woolworths, do you sell broken biscuits cheaper?”

      “Yes son.”

      “Well break us 1/2 pound of digestives then.”


  7. The problem is that they are catering to the lowest common denominator, which these days seems to be extremely low and falling.


  8. I’m a gen-X inbetweener, so I’m too young to have experienced pre-decimal money but I also wasn’t subjected to current state education.

    Thought one. ‘New’ money is utterly simple. 100p in a pound. And weights/volumes are all in metric, which is also utterly simple. As LI says, supermarkets display price per unit. What is there to get confused about?

    Thought two. I thought kids were smarter than ever these days. Tractor production is at record levels, etc.

    Thought three. As the human race cannot have devolved in such a short time, the British branch being able not long ago to mentally juggle ounces, gills, yards, shillings and pounds, deliberately poor education is the only possible explanation.

    So how do The Progressives(TM) keep getting away with it? They have demonstrably caused harm in so many areas; the stupification of The Children(TM) is just the most tragic. When do they get called on it all?


    • Try working for a bookmaker. I remember one daft old biddy at a point to point who reckoned that the decimal money system was way too complicated, and tried to work everything out by converting to pounds, shillings and pence and back again. With a genius-level IQ this might work; borderline Alzheimers on the other hand and said biddy got asked to go mutter incoherently elsewhere.

      Mind you, the lack of mental arithmetic has caused progressive mind-rot for decades. Stand two bookies next to each other. One displays odds of 2 1/2, the other 5/2. The guy showing 2 1/2 will get way more business. I even remember some twerp coming up to the fella I was clerking for and arrogantly asking (when he was showing 5/2 on a horse) “Will you give me twos on that one?

      The answer was simple “Alright then, ten for two, ticket eighty-four, Dan.” Ask for a lower price, and a lower price you shall get, oh innumerate plonker.


  9. Re these bargain packs of sweetcorn etc. Don’t forget to check the net or dry weight of the veg. No point in getting a “bargain” if it’s just more salt water in the can.


  10. Have to wear a Kilt? Fine if you have the legs for it. Good knees are essential. Also remember the etiquette of kilts where the only time you are supposed to wear anything underneath is when ladies are supposed to be present. It is worth noting that bridesmaids do not necessarily count as ladies, especially after their third vodka.

    As a Welsh Scot you’ll know the old gag;
    Q: “Tell me Leg-iron, is anything worn under the kilt?”
    A: “No, I’ve only just taken the wrappers off.”


  11. Speaking as an ex supermarket admin in management for Tesco I can tell you a thing or two about the funny pricing saga of the many bulk buy discounted products. 3 for the price of 2 or buy more for a discount and that sort of thing.

    It is believed that supermarkets discount price on products to shift stock close to use by date or to increase sales. Wrong. Discounting is only used as a last resort to reduce liabilities and cut loss. A complex business. Have they cocked up on the contract with the producer and over stocked? Or hit trouble with profit percentage share agreements? (i.e. who’s liable when the product fails – the producer or the supermarket?). A supermarket will always sell on unsold stock to a 3rd party wholesaler first. For a quick at best slim margin profit or at worse break evens price. And it is dependant on how near the ‘use by’ date is on the product to get the best loss liability price.

    When the supermarket decides to discount it’s mostly in collusion with the producer of the brands. When there is no proper agreement with the producer, this is when silly discounting starts at the supermarkets.

    The supermarkets and the producers decide how much to discount with bulk buy bargains and often forget to inform each other what their discount price is tweaked as (on the bar code) on all size packs of the particular product. The producer may be responsible only for ensuring a four pack costs their discounted £1 and the supermarket will maybe responsible only for ensuring the 7 pack is discounted their £2. Result of which, 4 for £1 and 7 for £2. Bonkers!

    So whose fault is it? Well the supermarket manager of course. It’s not done deliberately. All down to complacency and incompetence. The right hand doesn’t bother to check what the left hand is doing. The manager is too reliant on the office automated systems in place that price the bar coded products. The product bar code is read to make the manual advertised price. The manual advertised price cannot be used to make the bar code. Hence there is nothing shop floor staff can do if they see for themselves the discounted pricing cock-ups.


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