Pandemic food price gouging – demand advertised sale prices

The continuing increase in food prices throughout the pandemic has been well documented, in posts I’ve written and elsewhere. And I’ve given tips on how to cope, such as shopping dollar stores that stock produce and buying essential items in bulk.

Today, I ran into one of the most egregious examples of pandemic food price-gouging I’ve seen. My local Jewel, an Albertson’s chain in Illinois, had advertised filet mignon for $5.99 for a six-ounce steak.

Filet is normally the leanest cut of steak and so fits in my efforts to minimize my fat intake. Because it is an expensive cut, I’m always watching for deals and so jumped at the chance to buy some 6-ounce fillets for $5.99 each.

When I arrived at the meat counter of the Jewel in Wilmette, Il., a neighboring suburb, however, the signs posted said the filets were $6,99 each, not the advertised $5.99. Asking the meat counter attendant got me no answer, he had to follow what the sign said, he told me.

So I went to the store service counter. The person there had no answer for the disparity and so called the head of the meat department. She replied that store had decided to charge $6.99, not the advertised $5.99. But since I had complained, she would sell me some for $5.99

I was sent back to the meat counter and told me story to the attendant who now could not find his department head to sign off on the $5.99 price. He asked a more senior fellow attendant who told him they could not override the price in the scale system and I would have to take the steaks with the higher price on them to the service counter where they could check me out.

It took the service counter person three tries to do that and I found myself paying for the steaks while everything else in my cart, including some frozen items, sat there getting warmer by the minute.

I do not plan to shop that store again. Looking through the ad flyer when I got home, I found the lawyers’ language buried at the bottom of the back page that allows stores to charge their own prices on items advertised.

I’ve seen that happen with drug store chains such as Walgreens for stores in central business districts of large cities. But I’d never seen it done by a suburban grocery story.

Shame on you Jewel and Albertsons. How many other items are people at that store paying more for without even realizing it? Food prices are up simply on supply and demand issues during this pandemic, raising them even more is bad, bad form.

Always, always be asure you get the advertised prices. Check your receipts before you leave a store and fight for your rights.

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