This Partially Filled Half-Gallon Of Milk Is Reasonably Priced

Pretend you’re a manager at Ralph’s and you notice two-inches of milk missing from one of your half-gallon milk containers. What do you do?

Slap on a $1-off “Manager’s Special” sticker, obviously!

(Thanks to M!)


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  1. JustThatGuy3 says:

    Or, it means the “Fill-O-Matic 6000” at the dairy goofed. Either way, I think I’d just pull it from the shelf.

  2. Overheal says:

    All I see is a half gallon of White Stuff and a label for “The Manager’s Special”

    What has been seen, cannot be unseen o_o

  3. infecto says:

    If its unopened who cares. Have had this happen a few times with plastic drink bottles in machines.

  4. PølάrβǽЯ says:

    If a damaged half-gallon is $2.99, then how much is a regular half-gallon?!? I don’t know about the rest of you, but I usually pay $3.99 for a FULL gallon.

  5. Expanding Buttocks says:

    If only it had been the “reduced fat” bottle that I really wanted!

  6. dewrock says:

    I think it’s a little disingenuous to title this post “This Partially Consumed Half-Gallon of Milk Is Reasonably Priced”. First off you have no evidence that someone came along and took a swig from the bottle and I think it’s a little silly to even make such a claim. Second it’s obviously a bottling malfunction, it didn’t get filled all the way for whatever reason, and the manager of the store is discounting it. It’s up to you if you want to buy it or not…just like dented cans or busted boxes. Stuff happens and things get reduced in price for those very reasons. I really don’t get the last sarcastic part about the seal being intact along with the shot about that basically being meaningless.

  7. ilikemoney says:

    @aaron8301: Haven’t you heard? American consumers prefer to pay extra for the convenience of smaller packaging.

  8. Robotkio says:

    I stock shelves at a local grocery store. Though this is very rare, these kind of odd things do happen. A week ago I found a 4L milk with at least half the milk missing. We’re encouraged not to put stuff like that on the shelf though.

    I mean just today I found a pack of pierogies where whatever packing machine was packing it had cut and sealed the bag at the half way point.

  9. Jthmeffy says:

    @aaron8301: Jesus, I piss myself If I have to pay over $3.50 a gallon.. but I DO live in WI, so I may be spoiled.. When I was in Hawai’i, even the commissary had milk priced at $5.00 a gallon

  10. crazylady says:

    @dewrock: agreed. i’ve had many a bottle leak either because the bottle was crushed or half-empty due to a bottling malfunction. it doesn’t look consumed at all, and if it’s a significant discount from the regular pricing and has no other problems whatsoever, does it matter so much?

    although, if I remember correctly from a long time ago when I used to buy wholesale milk for resale, the company will usually be receptive to returns due to such events.

  11. tom2133 says:

    Looks like the “fancy” milk… maybe $2.99 is somewhat of a bargain for that, I guess.

    Me – I’ll spend $3.00 for my “factory-milk” with cows that may or may not have been exposed to hormones.

  12. BeastMasterJ says:

    @dewrock: Did the post originally say that it was half consumed? The headline just says half filled now, so I don’t know if Carey was impling that someone took a swig or not.

    Eitherway, your point holds. If the filling machince missed about 4 ounces, then it’s perfectly reasonable to sell it at a reduced price unless the seal was tampered with (and from the picture, that doesn’t appear to be the case).

  13. deadspork says:

    I’m surprised that with everyone whining about how expensive stuff is these days, they’d complain about a deal. The milk is sanitary, the seal is unbroken, and it’s at a discounted price. Why not? I’d drink it.

  14. HungryGrrl says:

    My roommate owed me some milk and she got it at Cumbys for $2.99/half gallon. So the pricing above is not unreasonable.

    I generally only use milk in my tea and the occasional baking/mac & cheese, so I buy quarts which currently go for 1.59 to 1.79, depending on where I shop.

  15. HungryGrrl says:

    But on topic… If you haven’t noticed, grocery stores don’t have the liberty of returning defective product to the manufacturer, unless there’s a recall. That’s why they have damaged sections and marked down produce carts. Either the store was to throw out that milk and count it as a loss, thus driving up the prices for everyone, or they could sell it at a reduced rate to someone who was willing to sacrifice quality (potentially) to save a buck.

  16. valtr0n says:

    It’s either mark it down to sell it, or throw it away. Chances are they’ll get no reclaim credit from the manufacturer, and the store has to eat the loss if they can’t sell the milk by the sell-by date.

    Personally, I’d rather see the milk used in some way (sold at a discount) than thrown away and wasted.

  17. dewrock says:

    @BeastMasterJ: Yep they’ve changed the title and the part about the seal being intact not meaning anything.

  18. Smashville says:

    How is this “unacceptable food”? It’s 25 percent off when you only get 1/8 less…I don’t get it…shouldn’t the manager be – if not commended – at least not called out for not charging his customers the same amount for less product?

  19. EdnaLegume says:

    @HungryGrrl: Comedian Bob Marley talked about Cumby’s and your post is the first I’d heard it otherwise, and I laughed out loud. Thank you.

    I can tell you two things: A.I have opened containers that have that nifty plastic “seal” thingy without breaking it apart from the lid.

    B. My husband worked for nine years in a grocery store, overnight stock, and occasionally walked the aisles “eating and drinking” things, leaving the containers where they were. *he’s a good citizen now.

    If I saw it in MY grocery store, I’d probably make a face that would make people think I’d just smelled dog poo.

  20. Joe S Chmo says:

    Quick! Check the cookie aisle! I bet there is a package of cookies that is just short of full as well. Someone was just having a milk and cookie break at the manager’s expense!

  21. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    $2.99 for 1/2 gallon seems steep. I thought that California milk prices were regulated but I can’t find the pricing.

    New York State’s ceiling is $3.93/gallon or $2.01/ half gallon, but it is not well enforced.

  22. Jesse says:

    Usually at grocery stores, the vendor will give full credit on items like that. I’m surprised they didn’t just return it.

  23. Goutnout says:


    Grocery stores don’t buy food directly from manufacturers, they buy from wholesale companies. These companies gladly take back anything damaged, opened, half drank. At the grocery store I worked at it was common practice to eat anything you wanted and leave the open container in the “damaged goods” section in the back of the store, where everything was returned for full refund.

    Some dairy companies are also very forgiving and give partial credits to stores on unsold expired product.

  24. shepd says:

    If it’s like most large stores, when something like this is “returned” the store is credited for the item and asked to destroy it.

    A lot like those CDs you find with the melted plastic on the spine of the case or the books with holes punched in the covers or lines drawn across the sides…

  25. @HungryGrrl: Hey, I was the (unofficial) dairy manager at a small grocery/drug store in Michigan for three years in the 90s. We DID have the luxury of returning defective product to the dairy.

    If that bottle came to my store, I would have pulled it off the shelf and made the dairy guy give me a credit on the next order. Period. And he would have given it to me, because he (and every other sales rep I dealt with) knew I was hard-ass about those things. I was working in my neighborhood grocery store, damn it — I’m not selling half-filled bottles to my neighbors.

    Have things changed that much in 10 years?

  26. Major-General says:

    @IfThenElvis: I don’t think there really is an upper end to prices on dairy in California. I know there is a floor. For the first, my local Ralph’s is charging $4.29/gallon for the cheapest milk they carry. As to the second, they also had to reprice a sale special for 8oz cheese to $2.29 each because the advertised price of $1.99 was too low. On the high end, you can pay $6+ for a gallon of organic milk.

  27. RodAox says:

    Thank god it was not for one of those shrink ray articles. If the cap is unopened then it is as good as the milk next to it. A dollar discount seems more than reasonable to make up for the missing amount of milk.

  28. Khuluna says:

    @aaron8301: At the 7-Eleven I just quit from, the half gallon was $3.25 on special. Ironically, the full gallon was $3.36 on special, and $3.99 otherwise.

  29. infecto says:

    I love how everyone chimes in with their own experiences and opinions on how a grocery store works. Who cares the milk is on sale, done deal.

  30. RetailGuy83 says:

    @RodAox: Agreed.

    At risk of being banned; it’s seems like this is the exact sort of post that cries for commenters to call out the poster about a lack of quality control. The original headline clearly needed to be addressed out in the open not in email, and if this doesn’t warrant a “why is this on the consumerist?” comment, I don’t know what does.

    I know this is not a membership based site so you don’t owe us anything, but if there is going to be a new comments code, can we get an anti-sensationalist OP proofread code established?

    ::waits to be struck by the mighty ban-hammer::

  31. RetailGuy83 says:

    Also, why is this article tagged as “unacceptable food?” Is there any evidence to support that claim?

  32. Techguy1138 says:

    “I know this is not a membership based site so you don’t owe us anything,”

    The main value of this site is kept up by those who post and act on those posts from the user community. It is impossible for the editors of the Consumerist to keep track of anything but the largest trends without the commenting community.

    Just as “free” items can be had for your personal information; the consumerist gains value from your posts and contributions. Your time is as valuable as money. The consumerist is not a non or not for profit consumer advocacy site. They are a for profit company. You are both a consumer and a contributer here. You should not have to be afraid of the moderators. They tend to be fair minded.

  33. thelushie says:

    @Smashville: I think we are conditioned to think that half empty equals half consumed. So even if the seal is intact, it will probably still gross some people out.

    @RetailGuy83: If they ban you, I willl miss you. *sniffle* (You can take that as a compliment or an insult depending.)

  34. WraithSama says:

    You can actually open the caps of milk jugs WITHOUT breaking the seal ring attached. It’s happened to me a number of times. When you screw the cap back on, the jug still appears unopened, minus the consumed quantity. Therefore, it is entirely possible that someone did drink from this container.

  35. mikells43 says:

    who in their right mind is going to buy that one. what the store is going to do is repot it to the company, get credited for the price of that milk and make an extra 2.99 if some stoned loner buys the milk and thinks he got a deal. its really just a ploy for the store to make a buck and get the money back from the milk supplier.

  36. MrMold says:

    Retail managers can be paid crap plus bonus. If the manager tosses the milk, it comes out of their bonus. Not likely. Besides, in ‘Merica, many cheap bastards will buy it.

    I routinely mark down items where I work and people purchase the stuff.

  37. @aaron8301: My sentiments EXACTLY. I gasped at $2.99 for a half gallon! I pay $1.59!

    @WraithSama: I’ve had that happen many times with our milk. Maybe that is the culprit… Doesn’t seem like a bargain to me, though. Hmmmm, on one hand, a BUCK off a half gallon! The other hand… a chance of contaminated milk, with the accompaning friends known as diarrhea and the heeves…. close call.

  38. csdiego says:

    The seal looks intact to me. I don’t have a problem with this one.

  39. @aaron8301:

    If a damaged half-gallon is $2.99, then how much is a regular half-gallon?!? I don’t know about the rest of you, but I usually pay $3.99 for a FULL gallon.

    Yeah, Milk is cheaper than gas here in KY

  40. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    I was also horrified that this was the discount price until I realized I have no idea what half a gallon of milk costs now where I live because I haven’t bought that size in months.

  41. TVGenius says:

    Looks like it sprung a leak to me… I’ve seen more than a few at one of our local Walmarts like that.

    Fry’s has milk for $.77 for a half gallon as long as your total bill is $25+… that’s hard to beat.

  42. TheNerd says:

    Yes, the milk may be good, but as there is even the remote possibility that it is the result of a leak, it should have been pulled from the shelf to avoid customer “curiosity”.

  43. mariospants says:

    I like this story, it’s got merit. Hell, it’s a lot more interesting than those airline stories. My take is that it’s either a junior manager who thought he was doing the right thing or a seasoned manager who knows that some of his clientele wants this. If there’s a little old lady who regularly shops there, for example, who depends on these “mistakes” in order to afford a half gallon of fresh milk, then he’s doing her a big favor and if he were to return the half gallon it would go to waste and she’d have to buy the more expensive 1/8 fuller variety.

  44. witeowl says:

    @mikells43: If the price of the full containers is $3.99, I sure would. I’d prefer that more stores do this rather than let foods unnecessarily go to waste. (I miss the days when grocery stores had bins of dented cans in the back. But people have learned that dents != toxins, so now you can only find unsold stale foods back there.)

    Oh, and how can you tell whether or not it sprang a leak? Well… is the bottom wet?

  45. shit i don’t buy 3.99 half gallons of milk. where the f is the milk coming from? a golden cow’s teets?

  46. goodkitty says:

    As a part-time milk user, I buy the premium stuff from golden cow teets. I used to buy the cheap stuff which would go sour after a week or two, now my milk lasts over a month easy, and I can take my time with it. Two or more cheap half-gallons is more than one ‘golden cow teet’ half-gallon. Plus, even at the same price (2x$1.99 or 1×3.99), I have the convenience of not having to worry if my milk is past due at any given moment, because I consume it before it goes bad. So there. :)

  47. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: I went to the store yesterday and made it a point to look. Yeah, the sale price is expensive compared to the store I go to but that’s probably also a regional difference. (I’d never even heard of Ralph’s. I don’t think they have them down here.)

  48. TVarmy says:

    @Overheal: Argh, I’m gasping for air. Please don’t be so funny before dinner. I’m feeling weak, not enough calories in system for laughter…

  49. Tie23 says:

    —As a person who stocks milk for about 15 hours a week as a part time job as a teenager. I must say that’s pretty stupid.—

    Half filled bottles like that are resultant of one of two things: something happened at the plant and didn’t get filled, or it’s simply leaked from the body or from a bad cap. Now, if I find one (as I often do, 3 or 4 gallons out of 150-250 gallons a day) jug of milk that is half filled, I simply drain it and add it to the pile of distressed milk. It’s not really the store’s fault, no one should lose their job for this because if you don’t want it, don’t buy it. It’ll eventually get ignored so much it’ll get too old and expire, just to be tossed anyway. So the logic behind this was, “Hey, if someone really wants to save one freakin’ dollar on this milk, let them have it, but if not, it’ll just take nature’s course and eventually expire.”

    No real harm, just kinda lazy. And honestly, as a professional milk-stocker, this is hardly post worthy.

  50. Tie23 says:

    @mariospants: In my situation at my job, there is a roll of stickers that says “$X.XX off!” – I don’t need to talk to the freaking manager or anyone to make my decision. Hell, I could easily just toss milk like that to be tallied up later as a loss. So instead, I could make a discount for damaged goods and call it done. This isn’t serious stuff people.

  51. Tie23 says:

    @Michael Bauser: The way I understand it at my store. We take a bad jug off the shelf, empty it, and place it in a pile of other empty jugs. Now, these jugs could have expired, may have been leaking in someone’s shopping cart, or was dropped -what ever- it all goes in the same pile. Then once a week someone goes through with a scan gun and lists up the losses to report. And that’s pretty much it, I work at a larger store, but it’s really not that big of an issue. I know that if someone sees a leaky jug with a noticeable amount missing, 95% of the time they’ll ignore it, 5% of the time they may even tell a lower end kid and let them know. They don’t go to the manager and demand better service, it’s just ridiculous to be so shocked by a thing like that.

  52. ffmariners says:

    Did anyone else lol at “as a professional milk-stocker”?

  53. mr mike says:

    Can everybody say Shrink-Ray

  54. loueloui says:

    I was at a Winn-Dixie a few weeks ago, and someone had taken an opened and partially empty bag of shredded cheese, put it on a meat tray, shrink wrapped it and put it out for sale at the low,low price of $1.95.

    Many years ago when I worked in a grocery store, all of the ‘shrink’ items would be discarded, and the labels returned for credit from the manufacturer.

  55. GarnetImp says:

    Just back from Kauai and milk was 9.50/gallon (on sale)