Rarely do things get marked down in Paris, except twice a year when stores have les soldes during dates specified by the govenment. But they do sometimes reduce the price of something by offering a promotion.
The difference is that during a sale, they mark something down.
A promotion is different: it’s when they reduce the price of something.
Commonly, I find, that when something’s on promotion, when you get to the register it never rings up at the sale, um…or I mean, the promotion price.
For you coupon-clippers out there— sorry, there’s no coupons here.
But the supermarkets do send out fliers advertising specials on certain items. But very rarely is the item actually in stock. My beloved Powerball went on sale, or was it on promotion?…this week at Franprix supermarket.
Don’t bother clicking on the link. Their site’s been non-functional depuis 2002. It advises “Patience!!!”
(You think? Anyone who’s willing to wait 5 years for a major business in one of the top cities in the world to put up a web site certainly needs un peu de patience.)
When I went, there my Powerballs sat on the shelf but with no special price was attached. (I’m sure there’s a joke there, but after the last post, I’m not touching it.) The other four items, which were advertised on sale in the flier, which were on my list, weren’t in stock at all. Still, with my odds, it was my lucky day that there was at least one of them.
And anyone who lives here knows that even if it is in stock, when you arrive at the register it will invariably ring up at full price and you can forget that they’ll believe you that it’s actually on sale. Nor will they call over someone to verify if you’re right. Perhaps that’s why they don’t have coupons; even in this country built on a solid foundation of massive amount of paperwork, a coupon would be irrefutable proof that you were entitled to a discount.
(Which is probably why they don’t put price stickers or stamps on individual items nor do they ever have copies of the flier in the store.)
Recently at my Monoprix supermarket, I got into a tiff with the terribly-disinterested cashier. So I went over to the orange juice aisle and pulled the big paper sign off the display with the sale price in large red letters when the cashier refused to believe me that my orange juice was 10 centimesoff.
I know…they’re pretty scanty with the discounts.
I suppose it wasn’t worth getting my DIMs in a knot over 10 centimes, but after all, I am my mother’s son. (Even though she probably didn’t wear DIMs)
But it wasn’t just the principle: if there’s anything I’ve learned living here is that no one respects you unless you fully assert yourself and if you just stand there waiting for your turn, you won’t get served. Or worse.
Take the lady who weaseled her way in front of me in line last week at Ladurée, pretending to blend in the others ahead waiting their turn.
When I pointed out to her that she just slid in front of me, she replied, “Oh Monsieur…I thought you were just looking!”
“Yes,” I said, “I’m standing in the middle of this long line, and we’re all here—just looking.”
End of the end of the line, lady.
Anyhow. Back at Monoprix they did call over the manager, who you can always spot by their rayon suits and the microphones they carry to broadcast things to buy over the store’s loudspeakers. He made a big fuss about it and scolded me for pulling down the sign. But when I asked why they simply don’t enter the right prices in the register in the first place (or, God forbid, believe the customer), he just shrugged and told me, “That’s not my job.”
Then he went back and sat down on the stool in the corner to watch people shop.
So what the food companies do here to get around the supermarkets that fail to put the correct price into their computers and cashiers who never believe you, is to give you 15% extra instead. I’m not sure where that number comes from, or if there’s any special significance to it, but it’s always 15%.
It’s never 10%…never 20%.
It’s always 15%.
And it doesn’t seem like a very efficient thing to do, since I would imagine orange juice bottling plants for example, have to recalibrate all their equipment for filling the bottles and re-design the packaging and shipping containers to compensate for the taller or wider bottles.
Probably I should give up trying to find a bargain around here.
After all, I’m happy doing the majority of my shopping at the outdoor market. If I could only get someone there to carry dishwashing tablets, then I’d be all set. But instead, I naively keep reading the promotional fliers the supermarkets send me, under the pretense that it’s improving my French vocabulary, but also giving me false hope that there’s actually a bargain for me out there.
The trouble is, the chances of that happening are perhaps, say…only 15%.