Last week, possibly on Friday, I bought some groceries at the supermarket on 30th and Avenue L—a little out of my way, but the nearest Von’s and Albertson’s supermarkets while closer than the Stater Brothers store, were, I thought, a little more expensive—and the boxed wine that I buy—was always several dollars less than that of Von’s or Albertson’s. (I don’t even clip the supermarket weekly special coupons from Von’s anymore because THEIR fine print is also too fine for me).

As I was on my way home, I was baffled because the total was higher than I anticipated. (and the truth is, I rarely double-check cash register receipts, as long as the total is in the ballpark figure of what I think it ought to be). So, after returning home and putting groceries away, I began to check the cash register receipt—and was completely blown away to find that my $7.99 box of Blush wine—had cost me $11.99 – four dollars more! So today, I went back to Stater Brothers, re-checked the price of the blush boxed wine—then went to find the manager to question him about the total. I told him I go out of my way to go to this store because the prices were always better than its competitors—and I was always able to get a box of wine in the $7.99 – $8.99 price range. He returned to the wine racks with me – and then asked if I realized I had to buy FOUR boxes of the wine to get it at the $7.99 price.
“When did that go into effect?” I asked, to which he replied , “About two or three years ago”. And he pointed out the tiny fine print on the price racks.

“Well, I NEVER buy four boxes of wine at the same time,” I said “AND I couldn’t read the fine print even with my glasses on”.

Well to make a long story even longer, the store manager gave me a refund of the $3.99 that I felt I had been overpriced on. And I made up my mind to go the extra distance and go to the Food4less store down on Avenue J and 15th (Which is a branch of the Kroger chain back in Ohio) – but I will check the fine print on THAT store as well, before I buy any. It irks me that buying four of a product to get the lower price means buying a lot more groceries than I want or need. (and nothing like this “buy four to get a lower price” existed when I was raising four sons and trying to get by on as little as possible—we were as poor as church mice until I went back to work full time in 1977.

I KNEW about the requirement to buy four of a given product, such as cake mixes and cereal – but it never occurred to me that the store was requiring me to buy 4 boxes of wine (or any combination thereof) @ 5 liters per box–enough wine to last me the rest of 2014. And, I need to get a new (stronger) pair of glasses—or go supermarket shopping with a big magnifying glass.

As I reflect on this store requirement forcing me to buy four of an item to get the lowest price, and considering that I am retired and on a fixed income—and mind you, this “buy four to get a lower price” appears to be universal in the southern California supermarket regions—I’m at a loss. It wasn’t a major issue when my granddaughter was still going to high school and practically lived here—but now that I am truly living alone….it’s high time I read the fine print. I think I will shop for a strong magnifying glass this afternoon.

–Sandra Lee Smith



  1. richard grupenhoff

    You go, Girl!

  2. Atleast you can buy your wine in a supermarket! Pennsylvania still has their state stores (tho they have pressure to change it). When we first moved to PA in mid 60’s the stores were just a counter when you walked in — and you had NOTHING to look at .. tho after awhile they’d sometime give you a list. Fun fun.
    Then when we moved back to PA about 20 years ago .. they were opening REAL stores whee you could walk around and look at what was available. Heaven forbid! they dooccasionallyh have sales.
    Re the fine print — I have a small magnifying glass that someone gave me years ago – its about the size of a computer mouse – but very thin – and has a cover you flip over it. I usually keep it in my glove compartment (have a big hand one in my desk at home) and its useful. Agree the stores, etc. care nothing about us with ‘old’ eyes!

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