Ricky’s, Where A “Free” Travel-Size Shampoo Will Cost You $7

Ricky's notion of "free" is questionable.

Ricky’s notion of “free” is questionable.

Earlier today, Consumerist reader Steve popped into Ricky’s — a chain of stores in NYC — to pick up some of his usual pomade. On the shelf, he saw what initially appears to be a good deal — a free travel-size shampoo with the purchase of a tin of pomade. But something struck Steve as being off about this deal.

The package with the supposedly free shampoo (actually a 3-in-1 shampoo/conditioner/body wash) had the price tag of $24, much higher than Steve was used to paying.

“I thought that was a little pricey, so I asked if they had the pomade by itself,” he writes.

A Ricky’s employer found some pomade on another shelf that was only price at $16.99.

It was the same exact product as what was in the $24 packaging. Steve says the employee even pulled one tin out of the more expensive box so they could compare to make sure they identical.

“When I asked what was ‘free’ about the other package, which clearly states that it should cost the same as the pomade by itself, the staff was as confused as I was,” Steve tells Consumerist. “Whoever is setting the prices there is hoping to confuse people into a $7 profit.”

It’s also possible that this is a bona fide unintentional pricing error, but regardless it’s a reminder to not automatically assume that just because the packaging says something is “free” that you’re getting a better deal.

You need to be even more vigilant when you’re doing a lot of shopping at once. If you’re cart or basket is filling up and you’re just grabbing things you buy on a regular basis, it’s easy to overlook a mis-marked (or marked up) price tag, and those few dollars are less obvious at the cash register.