July 20, 2005

Math giveth and math taketh away

Rose and I went to Barnes and Noble yesterday so she could stock up on books for her trip to Louisiana (her mother is having major surgery tomorrow). Our B&N membership card (which gives you a 10% discount on anything you buy) had expired, but Rose had gotten a postcard in the mail from them that said, "Bring in this card when you renew your membership and get an extra 10% off your purchase!" So, okay, we did that. Then, when I was looking at the receipt, I noticed the numbers looked a little odd. Why did it say that we had gotten a discount of $2.66 on a book costing $14.00, when 20% of $14.00 is $2.80? Then I figured it out: they had given us a 10% discount -- and then given us our additional 10% discount based on that amount. Which means we ended up getting a 19% discount overall, instead of a 20% discount. Which, you know, came out to a difference of less than a dollar, so it's not like we were going to bother complaining -- but it is a little skeevy on their part.

Posted by Francis at 10:00 AM

I'm sorry to say I think you're overreacting. That's how stores apply discounts. When you see a sign for an extra 10% off, it is always off the already discounted price. No one ever adds percentages together. It's not the way it works!

Posted by: beth at July 20, 2005 01:26 PM

Personally, I find it hard to imagine what reaction could be less dramatic than griping on a blog. Anyway, it's still sneaky, no matter how many stores do it. The advertisement gives a clear impression of "20% off!", which sounds better than 19% off (small though the difference may be) and thus has a greater PR value than an ad that explained the deal more clearly.

Posted by: Francis at July 24, 2005 11:54 AM
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