About the Colony

What is the real price of the things I buy?

One of the most overused words these days is “sale.”

Combine that with “marked down” and you really never know what the true price is on anything anymore.

When I was young, I remember my folks would drive 20 miles to Fresno because something was “on sale.” Many times lately, I’ve walked up to the checkout counter with my “sale” item only to find they’re taking more off the price at the register.

A few months ago I bought a new pickup. I think the sticker price was $41,000, and as I walked past the vehicle, I told the salesman it was out of my price range. He immediately took $10,000 off the price. I hadn’t even asked. So I ended up with a new truck.

Do I tell friends I’m driving a new $41,000 truck or a $31,000 truck? I’ve been watching ads on television for new cars and trucks, and all the auto companies are offering significant markdowns, which tells me the real price of those vehicles is the lower number.

It is a big game we’re all playing.

I watch with amusement those TV ads for some new widget for $19.99. They start throwing in a bunch of accessories to the widget, and then tell you they’ll throw in a second widget for the same price if you call within the next 10 minutes.

Something tells me if I called in the next 11 minutes I’d get the two-for-one deal as well. So that makes the real cost $10.99.

I have never known why something isn’t 20 bucks. My monthly internet bill is $24.95. Why not $25? That would make balancing my checkbook a lot easier.

Even at the grocery store, I find myself getting price reductions I hadn’t anticipated. I like it; I just never expect it. I’ve never been a coupon clipper.

But now that I shop for myself, I’ve been getting coupons crumpled up in that 2-foot-long paper tape that comes out of the cash register. Unfortunately, the coupons are for things like hair care products and baby diapers. Why don’t they make the coupons fit the person at the counter? Why not give a senior male like me a coupon for a buck off a bottle of antacid tablets or adult vitamins?

And why not make smaller packages for some items? I don’t need to purchase 24 rolls of toilet paper at a time.

Lon Allan’s column is special to The Tribune. He has lived in Atascadero for nearly five decades and his column appears here every week. Reach Allan at 805-466-8529 or leallan@tcsn.net.