Sam's Club Charges More For Bulk Check Purchases

An alert reader noticed that something looked fishy on the Sam’s Club order screen when he was ordering new checks—if you decide to order double the number of checks, your price-per-box magically goes up the tiniest bit. We figure the amount is so small that most people don’t even notice it, or they notice it but figure they’ll still save time and shipping so it’s worth the 3-5 cents extra. Still, it’s a sneaky thing for a bulk discount store to do.

(Thanks to Eric!)


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  1. DrGirlfriend says:

    This happens surprisingly often. I see it at the grocery store (Safeway) so much that I started to calculate the price-per-unit on everything.

  2. Chris Walters says:

    @DrGirlfriend: Same here, for the same reason.

  3. MercuryPDX says:

    I will also admit to being one of those shoppers you need to go around in every aisle because I’m doing math.

  4. MercuryPDX says:

    @DrGirlfriend: P.S. Aren’t the inconsistencies in the per unit costs between similar products SO annoying? It’s bad enough I dawdle to compare “3.5 cents/oz.” to “3.2 cents/oz.”, but the math to compare “3.5 cents/o.z” to “60.8 cents/lb.” sans calculator is criminal.

  5. bohemian says:

    The calculator on my cell phone has been getting a workout lately.

    I was in the egg aisle of the dairy department last month and I was doing the per egg price on the various quantities of eggs. It ended up gathering a small crowd of people. Then one senior asked me what one was cheaper per unit. Then everyone standing around bought those.

  6. andrewe says:

    Ah the metric system. It makes grocery shopping so much easier.

  7. Chris Walters says:

    @bohemian: That story rocks. You should get a Consumerist t-shirt or something. (Note: I don’t think we actually have or give away Consumerist t-shirts.)

  8. overbysara says:

    @bohemian: that’s awesome!

  9. jaredharley says:

    I’d like to point out that “duplicates” does not mean double the number of checks… it means you get the carbon copy of the check left in your checkbook. The “single” book doesn’t have them.

  10. uricmu says:

    Costco gives you a price-per-unit on everything

  11. jaredharley says:

    @jaredharley: I’d like to point out I’m an idiot. Jared, practice your reading.

    Move along, nothing to see here

  12. glass says:

    Wait wait wait… and Sam’s Club is a part of which company? Hmmm…

  13. Snarkysnake says:

    This is just a smaller scale version of the whole Sam’s Club experience…

    Sam’s is a giant con. They have convinced people that buying a Holy Roman Empire size box of cookies saves them money,no matter what the unit cost really is.The feeling seems to be “Hey , there are three times as many things in the package,so it must be a better deal” Many,many times I found that the Wal Mart across the parking lot had a better unit price on the same stuff,but in different packages. This is reinforced by the “membership” model that makes people think that since they have to PAY to get in,there must be some magical sugar plum fairy inside cutting prices with a chain saw. Also , the assholettes that manned the door to look you over like a thief is a nice touch. BTW the most rude , brain dead slugs I have ever met worked at the Sam’s Clubs that I USED to go in ’til I did the math. They were so anal about that fucking card that I decided that it was just better to mosey over to their competition. Best thing I ever did.

  14. TeddyO18 says:

    Sam’s Club is masterful at taking advantage of their reputation as a bulk discount store. When shopping for HDTVs, I noticed Sam’s was charging upwards of $100 more than the exact same model number at Wal-Mart.

  15. SkyeBlue says:

    If they did give away free T-shirts they could charge $5.00 to ship one to you or $10.14 to ship two of them!

  16. azntg says:

    @glass: WALLYWORLD! YAY!

    Sigh, welcome to America where people still write checks routinely!

    Even so, I think checks should be considered a long term purchase with the advent of online payment systems.

  17. BuriedCaesar says:

    Wal-Mart and Sam’s count their pennies every day in little ‘ol B-ville, AR. Hundreds of billions of them. Only fitting that we should do the same. Every day.

  18. bpotterr says:

    @uricmu: So does Kroger.

  19. goodkitty says:

    @bohemian: You’re killing captialism! :)

    But really… I have to wonder though if the absolute cheapest eggs aren’t the ones that are the lowest quality, torment the chickens the most, and are imported from Mexico. We should all know by now the Wal-Mart effect isn’t always a good thing.

  20. humphrmi says:

    Lord, I’ve been waiting for this article for months.

    Plain and simple, Sams Club is not a bulk warehouse. They may think they are, and they may want you to think they are, but when I pay less per unit at my local Jewel or Dominick’s than Sam’s charges for “bulk” – it ain’t bulk.

    Sorry Sam’s. Lost my biz five years ago. Ain’t gettin’ it back.

  21. vision646 says:

    “-$.03 anti-savings”. With that being a double negative (“-” and “anti”)doesn’t that mean its a 3 cent savings. However I do agree with the math, that is a bad deal.

  22. BugMeNot2 says:

    Has it occurred to anyone that if the order is for home delivery, four boxes of checks weigh twice that of two boxes of checks and will cost more to ship?

    Or d’ya maybe think the shipper will just sink the extra delivery costs out of the goodness of their hearts?

  23. astrochimp says:

    @BugMeNot2: Try not to overwork yourself on this one:

    If you want four boxes, what do you do?

    Either buy two sets of “2 boxes” at 10.06 each.

    Or buy one set of “4 boxes” at 20.15 each.

    If each box is packed individually, they will weigh precisely the same. Though if they are smart and pack the sets together, the “4 boxes” will actually weigh less. And yet the latter is more expensive. (Cue pyrotechnics).

  24. astrochimp says:

    @astrochimp: (And keep in mind that shipping in bulk — e.g., shipping double the size — is almost always cheaper than shipping two items which are half the size).

  25. Zamboni MacN'Cheese says:

    @bugmenot: keep in mind that the marginal cost of extra weight while shipping is LESS, not more, because you’ve already paid for the trip to your door. Not to mention, this screen snap did not include the shipping charges.

    Did anyone else notice that the cost of 8 items was also more than double the cost of 4 items?

  26. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    The one in Glenview, Ill doesn’t have unit pricing on lots of stuff.

  27. HeartBurnKid says:

    @BugMeNot2: Has it occurred to you that they already charge separately for shipping?

  28. theblackdog says:

    *insert obligatory “Costco love” comment here*

  29. ezacharyk says:

    I hate this about any store related to the Wal-mart stores. They are horrible about this. I used to use Mach 3 razors and found out that it was cheaper to buy 3 four packs of razors than to buy one 12 pack.

    But it is more than that. Almost everything in the pharmacy/bath section does this.

    I have started to check prices per unit on everything. It is the only way to make sure you are getting the best deal.

  30. pigeonpenelope says:

    it sounds more like a computer/tax thing. i doubt costco has some sort of evil plot to cheat money out of people.

  31. chrishop says:

    Seriously people? It’s not 2x the amount of checks. They are dublicate checks. The kind with the carbon copy underneath each check.

  32. Anonymous says:

    If whoever posted this actually did any research, then they would know that Sam’s Club pricing like that all includes shipping. The extra few cents is for the extra shipping.