My Amazon Fresh shopping trip — out-of-stock sale items, odd pricing policies

Amazon Fresh recently sent me a digital deal — $15 off a $35 spend at the Amazon Fresh store that opened in a neighboring suburb. I’d already written about my first impressions of the store but the digital deal provided me a reason to actually set up a shopping trip.

It came the same week Amazon did a print ad insert in our local paper for the store, so I had some idea what was on sale. Always prepare ahead for your shopping trip to maximize your spending power.

The sale chicken I wanted at Amazon Fresh was out-of-stock, as were several other sale items I went to buy. Very disappointing, it reeks of a bait-and-switch approach to selling.

The items in the ad didn’t seem like bargains, the only ones that caught my eye was chicken breasts under $2 a pound. and cooked rotisserie chicken for $4.97. My wife also wanted to check out the fresh fish. So off we went.

We scanned our Amazon app to enter. I’m still not sure why since we did not try doing the checkout-as-you-put-items-in-your-basket option, going to the checkout line instead.

The first thing that disappointed me was that bananas were out-of-stock. At 15 cents each, I wasn’t sure the pricing was any great deal. I get bananas for 59 cents a pound at a local supermarket. But a staple like banas should never be out of stock.

When we reached the meat section, it appeared at first that the sale chicken breasts also were out of stock. My wife found one package in the very back of the shelf, so we bought that.

But odd pricing was in evidence here as well. The package price label on the shelf had a set package price and it was difficult to find the actual weight of the chicken to determine the per pound charge.

And note that other, more expensive chicken packages were well-stocked. If you don’t have sale items displayed but have higher priced ones instead, that reeks of the old bait-and-switch trick — draw people in to buy a sale item and then sell them more expensive substitutes.

Fresh seafood also has odd pricing. My wife wanted some halibut fillets which she thought sounded like a good price per pound. But the clerk let her know the price on the shelf tag was per piece, not per pound. It wasn’t until I saw my receipt that I discovered we paid $26.97 a pound, hardly a bargain for what is always an expensive fish.

The rotisserie chicken also was out-of-stock but I could see more coming out of the rotisserie and being packaged behind the service counter, so I waited to get one. There is no low- or no-salt option here, as some supermarkets offer, so I knew I was getting a chicken with more salt than I wanted.

When we had checked out, the receipt showed that I had saved only $13.69 of the $15 promised. My purchase total after savings was $35.30 pre-tax.

So why didn’t I get the full $15 off? Each item noted the $15 off $35 offer, so what happened? Checking the math myself, I found my savings were 27.9%.

The pricing at Amazon Fresh seems designed to confuse people about what they’re paying in comparison to what they would pay at a competing store. If that doesn’t change to conventional pricing, I won’t be shopping at Amazon Fresh again anytime soon.

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