Those retail decoder rings are evidently sold separately

Have you ever noticed those bar codes and arrangements of letters, dates and words on the grocery store aisles? I’ve got a friend who works in the cheese industry who’s great at explaining what they mean.
Being in corporate food sales his whole career, he is quick to let somebody know that if Walmart advertises Tropicana as being on sale in its circular, Tropicana has to guarantee a certain number of units for that product.
He was weeks ahead of news sources by letting me know Prairie Farms Dairy and Swiss Valley Farms announced a merger agreement, a business move he said shook up the whole cheese industry.
As appreciative as I am for tidbits of knowledge us common folk often overlook, there’s still plenty more I could stand to learn when it comes to the way corporate America communicates.
If you know me, you know I’m quiet and really laid back, but come this past Christmas season, it was hard to keep my mouth shut a time or two.
For example, when a Black Friday deal tells you a discounted in-dash CD/DVD player you want comes with free installation, you jump on that good deal. What the installers later said that the circular didn’t was the installation kit and wiring harness costs an additional $200 and the way they install this model doesn’t let you play DVDs unless the parking brake is engaged.
Everything happens for a reason, and I appreciate the emphasis on safety, but I bought a product [and quickly exchanged it] because I was under the impression I was getting a great deal on some pretty good features. What us consumers get so many times, however, is the slick and cunning way corporate America communicates.
The sale papers make so many people either skip Thanksgiving or get up early the next morning to fight through crowds and frustrations to get a “deal” on something that’s probably going to be marked down just as much a few weeks later. Even though the big box stores make us think Black Friday is the best time to buy a new TV, wait until Super Bowl time and you’ve got less aggressive shoppers to deal with for a unit just as discounted and technologically advanced.
The 50-percent off signs on top of rounders and racks at some stores make you think you can’t pass up a deal, but often times aren’t even validated at the register unless you buy more than one of the item.
If the fine print is there with some of these “deals,” you almost need to have a decoder ring to find the invisible ink…or know how to talk the corporate lingo to ensure you’re a happy customer at the end of the day.
The days of smooth-talking traveling salesmen pushing the wonders of their miracle tonic may be best left to old timey movies, but there are plenty of smooth-talking people out there still trying to sell their snake oil. Buyers, beware.
I’ve got plenty of honest friends paying for their honest lifestyles through the sales industry, and there are millions of others out there just like them. On the other side of the fence, movies and personal instances have taught us there are the “greasy” salespeople out there, toothpick clinched between their fingers, saying whatever it takes to meet their quotas.
With some people in particular, whatever they’re selling, I’m buying.
With other people though, I don’t even want to step foot in their store because of previous bad consumer experiences.
Honesty is knowing exactly what you’re getting. As people, we’re not all pushing products but we’ve still got to make our sales pitches for first dates, job interviews and whatever else we want that takes convincing. Just be honest and straight forward.
It doesn’t take hidden messages to get you where you want to be in life, and it shouldn’t take hidden messages to boost fourth quarter sales through trickery in the stores.
At the end of the day, the customer is always right, and it shouldn’t require reading the fine print.

About Ray Van Dusen

I've been with the Monroe Journal since Aug. 2009 as a staff writer, but took the role as news editor in late 2012. I'm always looking for interesting story ideas from around Monroe County. You can reach me via email at