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Shopping in the USA- The American Way

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Shopping in the USA- The American Way

More seems cheaper only because less is more expensive


The less you buy of something in the USA the more it costs. This is against my logic but right in line with the “buy today, buy tomorrow” mentality of my people. Shopping in the USA is an exploit into the subtle rip-offs of capitalist reasoning: if something can be made to look cheap in relative terms, people will think that it really is cheap.

I wanted to buy some batteries yesterday; so I go to the store and begin picking some out. Hmm . . . twenty Duracell batteries cost $11 while only eight costs $6. What do I do? It would be cheaper per battery to buy 20, but do I really want to walk around with TWENTY batteries knocking around in my bag weighting me down? No. Do I want to spend more money per battery for the privilege of being able to buy less and have a lighter load? No. If I can buy twenty at a certain price, why can’t I have the same price for eight? I do not understand.

But this is just the way of these Americans. A liter and a half cup of soda pop costs about the same as a 12 oz. So people here drink a liter and a half in one sitting. It seems like a value. I just watched my mother sit down and drink a cup of cola at a restaurant yesterday that was almost bigger than she was. It was almost the same price as the smaller sizes, so she got more than what she would ever normally want to drink.

It seems to be cheaper to purchase more than what you should ever need of a product here, so people consume to an excess. It is too expensive not to. To buy the amount that you want of a particular item, is to feel ripped off. . . and it is true, you would be.

To buy less of something here is a privilege. Purchasing large amounts of quickly consumed, often purchased goods- soda pop, batteries, food- is the rule; to purchase small quantities of these products would be far too expensive.

This seems backwards to me. I do not want to buy 20 batteries or a liter and a half of soda at one time, so I have to pay more to get less.

I do not think that it is a value to pay a fraction more money to get three times the amount of a particular substance; rather, I think it is a rip-off that the price for a small portion is raised to nearly the same level as the bulk quantity.

Small quantities are over priced! Large quantities are not a value! Small quantities are priced higher to make it seem as if the bulk quantities are cheaper! If the price of a large amount of something seems cheap, it is only because a small (normal) amount is expensive!

An odd psychology of commerce . . .

A way to squeeze out a few extra dimes by altering the terms by which one decides what is a good price to pay. . . Large quantities are not cheap, small quantities are expensive.

To only buy the amount that you need is to be overcharged.

This is normal here.

My opinions, my opinions.

Photographs of the USA

Wade from Vagabond Journey.com
Albion, NY, USA
January 11, 2008

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Filed under: Culture and Society, North America, Travel Problems, USA

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 76 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3053 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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