Monday, July 16, 2012

Strange coupon language

I got a coupon in the mail today from Total Wine that gives $10 off any purchase $30 or more. Not bad for a wino like me. But this is strange - it says "Excludes items with prices ending in 7".

What is the reasoning behind that?

I would think it would just be a way of preserving profit margins on certain products (I'm not sure if you'd price low profit margin products that way to keep them positive or high ones to preserve the high margin), but that doesn't really satisfy me. What happens when you come to the register if you don't notice this caveat? Either you happened to get things that did not end in 7 and you never notice that you didn't read the caveat, or you did get things that end in 7 and you find out at the register that you didn't get the deal. Either way if you come with the coupon you're expecting the deal and you'll notice if you don't get it. So if you don't get it (when you expect to) you'll either add more things to the cart or you just won't use the coupon.

What I don't get is what this wacky caveat does that you couldn't do with sale stickers.


  1. REI does something similar, where clearance stuff if I recall rightly, is priced with x.98 prices. And I've seen similar language from them that if the price ends in .98 you can't use some coupons on them.

  2. Add some extra logic about 7 or 98 cents to a piece of "middleware" can be much cheaper than adding an extra column to a database and changing lots of other code.

  3. The difference is probably that this is more effective than sale stickers at getting people into the store in the first place while still allowing them to make the coupon apply only where they want it to. Right or wrong, most people will assume few prices end in 7.

  4. Evan Roberts and Current are right. I used to work in retail and the extensions xx.98 and xx.97 were 'reduced' and 'clearance' for us. Possibly it's important that the customer *not* know that the price has been reduced from the original in some cases?

  5. It's more mundane. It's easier to program the store's POS system. Rather than having to have an entry for each exclusion from the sale you have one, based on the .97 price. With a lot of SKUs like in a wine store that saves a lot of effort.


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