How do I get to go to one of these fancy-schmancy extra-cost ethnically focused chain grocers?
Avanza Supermarkets puts its groceries on sale, but then charges customers 10 percent extra when they get to the cash register, virtually wiping out some of the sale prices. It’s a new pricing program that the company, Nash Finch based in Minneapolis, began in its stores in Colorado.
Most shoppers do not notice that the extra charge has been added to their bills until they look carefully at their receipts.
“I don’t usually read the fine print, I just look to see what the sales are,” said Antoinette Garcia of Denver. “I don’t think that’s fair. They should let somebody know before they do that.”
When shoppers and 9Wants to Know asked store employees to explain the new pricing program, the store clerks and managers seemed confused.
“This is for taxes in Mexico and we think that people would feel better if they are charged for taxes as if they were in Mexico,” one worker said.
I always suspected that the main assimilatory issue new immigrants to our country face is not paying the same taxes they did in their homeland. If you have an immigrant presence in your community, most stores will simply take minor patronizing steps to accommodate them – moving tortillas to the end of the aisle, having a special Eid section, ordering up some extra bratwursts every October. But somehow I doubt that Avanza serves its German customers by adding that country’s VAT to their bill, a move which would finally allow our Brüder and Schwestern to feel at home in this alien land.
The Nash Finch stores Avanza, Food Bonanza and Wholesale Food Outlets add the 10 percent charge to food at the register and specialize in serving Hispanics, according to store workers.
However, the Nash Finch stores Sun Mart Foods, Econo Foods, Family Fresh Market, Pick N Save and Prairie Market stores do not charge extra at the register and do not cater to Hispanics, according to the store workers.
“It’s an injustice. They’re targeting the people who can least afford it,” said Susana Herrera after learning Nash Finch only charges the fee in stores that have specialty Hispanic foods.
“I feel if this were happening in King Soopers, at Target, at Walmart, there would be an outrage. People wouldn’t put up with it,” said Herrera. “But because the Spanish-speaking community mainly feel that they don’t have a voice, they’re afraid to make noise and they don’t say anything. And I think they know that.”
This is a practice about which I can find absolutely nothing wrong. It is the very basis of capitalism to pick out customers based on their ethnic background and charge them different prices based on whether or not they like their loose meat between processed bread, corn tortillas, pita, or, as I heard about the Obamas at the McCain rally I went to yesterday, pieces of fried baby. What’s the store’s official explanation for what’s a blatantly
racist awesome policy?
In a statement to 9NEWS, Nash Finch denied that it’s targeting Hispanic shoppers with the 10-percent fee.
“The ‘shelf-plus’ pricing program is only used in certain store formats. These stores tend to be located where consumers are more price-conscious, as compared to our more conventional supermarkets,” said Brian Numainville, Public Relations for Nash Finch Company. “The pricing policy is explained, not just in English, but also in Spanish, so that no customer is caught unaware at the cash register.”
The stores do advertise that they are going to add a 10 percent fee in signs posted across the store, on the store shelves below the price of a food item on the store shelf and in flyers and circulars. However, the wording is confusing to many. For example, the flyers read, “A great way to save – Plus 10 % at the Register.”
The big question here is why you would consider adding ten percent to the cost of the bill “a great way to save”. Does it go up to 15% during holidays? Half coupon Mondays? Can I get some extra gristle in my meat if I seem Latino enough? All I ever get when I go to the grocery store is a free bottle of grape soda for every four packages of Swisher Sweets I buy.
Colorado’s investigating this practice, which Nash Finch says that it can’t do away with:
Nash Finch could just raise its prices by 10 percent but stands by its policy of tacking on the extra fee at the register.
“Given the need to attract and retain customers, our stores cannot afford to alienate its customers by charging unexplained fees or unanticipated mark-ups. Our pricing is attracting customers, rather than losing them, demonstrating that the pricing policy is in fact fair, obvious and well-understood by shoppers,” said Numainville of Nash Finch.
I congratulate Nash Finch’s spokesperson for creating a justification that destroys itself. In order to keep customers who are paying an unexplained and unanticipated surcharge, they must prevent customers from knowing that they’re doing so lest they think that they’re paying an unexplained or unanticipated surcharge. And the fact that they’re choosing to shop at a store where they’re being unknowingly charged a higher price than what’s on the shelf in fact proves that they shouldn’t be charged the surcharge that they must be charged to continue the success.