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    A Penny Saved Is A Penny Spurned

    | Freeport, ME, USA | At The Checkout, Math & Science, Money

    (I’m shopping in a store where they are currently running the following sale: Buy 1 item, get 10% off; Buy 2 items, get 20% off; and so on… all the way up to 50%. I’m buying two expensive items and realize that if I buy three cheap items as well, my total will be less then with the two items alone. I go up to the register and am second in line; the cashier is explaining the sale to a middle-aged customer.)

    Cashier #1: “If you buy three more items you can get 50% off. Why don’t you take a look at some of our cheaper items such as—”

    Customer: “Stop it right there! I only want these! That’s it!”

    Cashier #1: “Okay, but I would just like to mention that we have a sale—”

    Customer: “I told you no! If you say anything else, I’m just going to walk out and not buy anything!”

    Cashier #2: *to me* “I can help you right over here!”  

    (I go over to the other register when the customer turns to me.)

    Customer: “Don’t you hate all these add-ons? They’re always trying to get you to buy more!”

    Me: “Yes, that does happen sometimes, but the deal they’re having right now is great.”

    Customer: *under her breath* “Sucker…”

    (I ignore her comment. Almost simultaneously, both cashiers read out our respective totals.)

    Cashier #1: *to the customer* “Your total is $40.”

    Cashier #2: *to me* “Your total is $30.”

    Customer: “Wait a second!  What makes her so special?  How come I can’t get a discount?”

    Me: “Seriously?”

    Cashier #2: “Ma’am, she bought five items, so she gets 50% off of her total.”

    Cashier #1: “Yes, and since you only bought two items, your discount is 20%.”

    Customer: “Then how can I get 50% like her?”

    (The cashiers and I are grinning at each other and trying very hard not to laugh.)

    Cashier #1: “As I was trying to say before, if you buy three additional items, you will get 50% off of your total purchase.”

    Customer: “That makes absolutely no sense to me. Buy more… but less? That’s not mathematically possible!”

    (By this point I’ve paid for my things and start to walk away.)

    Customer: “I don’t know what witchcraft this is, but I don’t want any part of it! I’ll just pay for what I have!”