Archive for August 19th, 2008


Dissolving Our Trust

We all know that the price of goods and service invariable edges up. Sure, there may be a temporary set back, but prices rise and that money comes out of your wallet. The foundation of American consumerism has been trust. We trust that the beef is safe, that the veggies are healthy, that the stuff in the can or the package is safe to use. It’s that trust in the system that has been the glue that holds the whole mess together. It’s a bit concerning that the average Joe pauses just a bit when buying a pound of ground beef. “Is it tainted? And why is it always 1.27 pounds? Why can’t I just buy one pound?” It makes one consider nefarious plots and intrigue.

We’re all familiar with the grocery “shrink ray”. Instead of raising prices, “they” keep the price the same, yet lower the amount of product in the package. Sneaky, but somehow more palatable. Or what about a recent stunt by Arm & Hammer, that venerable good ol’ American brand… Put a box in the fridge and swap it out every 3 months to keep things from smelling yucky. The makers of this simple product (100% pure sodium bicarbonate) now stamp the box with “Change every 30 days”. The amount is the same, the product is the same, but now it is less effective? Or is it just that the marketing wonks would like us to be more wasteful? Great way to build trust. But wait, there’s more…

Walmart is the leader in low prices, the champion of the penny pinchers and the heart of American shoppers. They would never resort to fraud. Or would they? It’s back to school time. And it would appear that some Walmart stores have taken to faking school supply packages, by school and teacher. They’ve even gone so far as to gin up a phony fax header on the top of the advertised list to hint at authenticity. Sorry. Those lists did not come from the school or the teachers and in some cases even have items that are banned at those schools. Way to go Walmart.

Time to activate your BS detectors. It shouldn’t be hard to calibrate them given the current level all around us.