No, You Can't Have These Cheerios For 14 Cents

Phill tells Consumerist that he saw a pricing error on cereal at his local Safeway, and brought it to the attention of store employees. In the process, he tried to invoke Safeway’s price guarantee. After all, if the cereal was marked 28 cents per pound (instead of 28 cents per ounce, as it should have been) why shouldn’t Phill be able to buy it at that price? Yet the store employees would hear none of it.

On December 8th, 2009, I went shopping at my local rural Washington Safeway to purchase, among other things, some cereal. I noticed that all the General Mills cereals were priced at $2.50 a box, but also $0.28 per pound. This was clearly a pricing error, as that would make each box of cereal $0.14, as they are about a half a pound each. I brought two different boxes of cereal to the front counter, and started checking out. When the cereal was rung up, it came at the $2.50 price. I pulled out my phone and showed them the per pound price and said, “I would like to pay the lowest printed price for this item.”

The employee called over a manager, let’s call her Ms. K, who said, “That label is supposed to say per ounce, not per pound.” I replied, “Yes, I understand what it is supposed to say, however, I’d like to pay what it actually says.” She then repeated, “It’s supposed to say per ounce, so I can’t give you the price printed.”

I pointed then to the sign on the register which read: “We guarantee the accuracy of our electronic checkout system. Safeway will give you the item free, if the price on the detailed receipt is different (higher or lower) than indicated in ads or shown on the shelf price tag.” I said, clearly this must be a pricing error then, because the shelf price tag is not the same as the price that it rang up as. I would like to redeem this guarantee please.

Ms. K laughed in my face then said, “Nice try. You can buy your Cheerios at $2.50 or you can put them back.” Her rudeness of tone is difficult to convey in text, but she was very standoffish — clearly offended that I had even brought it up.

Not looking to delay the customers behind me, I conceded and just didn’t buy the cereal. I did, however, submit a complaint to Safeway’s website. I got a response promising I would be contacted further to discuss the event. I never heard another word. So I tried twice more to get in touch with them, and each time they promised to get back to me to discuss it further.

At this point, it’s been nearly a month and a half, and I’ve heard nothing. So I decided I would share my story with the Consumerist, as Safeway clearly isn’t listening.

Let’s put this up before the court of public opinion.