Clarity Counts In Pricing, Keeping Consumer Trust

If you want to hold onto customer trust, telling the truth is a step in the right direction. Yet, retailers still manage to shoot themselves in the foot. A recent holiday experience with the flagship Lord & Taylor store on Fifth Avenue in New York City demonstrated just how. 

Browsing the holiday windows with an out-of-town friend prompted us to go inside the store to look for some last-minute gifts and stocking stuffers. 

There was plenty to go through on the first floor, and tables were marked with signage announcing 40% off on some of the most attractive items. 

We quickly scooped up a few but were confused by a picture frame that did not seem to be part of the display. A staff person (and there were many on the floor) approached to ask if we had a question. So we asked what the final price was on the item, and he said $5. 

It seemed too good to be true, so we gathered up five of them. And it was. 



At checkout, none of the items we’d chosen from the sale tables reflected any price change. And the $5 picture frame was actually $15 – still not much, but more than it seemed worth. We left it all at the counter — even the items we wanted — because the way the pricing was communicated seemed designed to deceive. 

“I’m never coming back in this store again,” my friend said. “That’s just fraud!” 

Maybe not, but it sure felt like we’d been hoodwinked. And while Lord & Taylor is probably happy to weed out shoppers who are going only for price, I shop there on occasion and now have this experience always in my mind. 

The Lord & Taylor website takes price communication confusion to a new level. Visitors are greeted by this message: 

20% Off Sale & Clearance Items
Online Only: 15% Off Regular-Priced Items Details
Use Code NEWYEAR or Print Pass

followed by: 

Online Only
$20 Off Your $160+ Purchase
Use Code BONUSDetails 

The discounts are impressive, and the initial discount is recorded immediately when the item is added to the shopping bag. But I just don’t want to have to think this hard! 

According to Accenture, millennials prefer to shop in a store, but two-thirds expect an integrated experience. And they are accustomed to shopping online where speed and transparency in pricing are the cost of doing business. 

Authenticity counts, too! So tell the truth — in a way that makes it seem as if you aren’t trying to pull one over on the customer.

2 comments about "Clarity Counts In Pricing, Keeping Consumer Trust".
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  1. Linda Moskal from WNPV Radio, December 27, 2016 at 10:35 a.m.

    Add Barnes & Noble to the list of businesses who leave a bad taste ... a book for sale on their website was $24.00 (plus, free shipping!) but since we were going to the shopping area where they have a huge brick and mortar store we decided to pick it up there.  Oh, no!  At the store it was $30.00 and not even a manager could explain why or give us the deal.  So, even though I shop this particular store at least once a month year-round, we left the book there and ordered it on Amazon for $17.99!  

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, December 27, 2016 at 1:28 p.m.

    Ordered a gift for someone across the country from Harry & David and for it to be delivered on a certain date range right on their own website. They send me an email that it would be delivered a week and a half eary. So I called because this could not wait until they decided to check their email. It was an hour to get it done. It still got delivered a couple of days early. So I sent an email attachesd to the follow up emails they sent me. Nada. Back again at them. So they are supposed to refund my delivered charge. We'll see when the bill comes in. Next year, going to find a more local gift service. You know, you get tired of having to straighten out everything that a company is supposed to to. And let's not get started with Comcast and their ilk.

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