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December 12th, 2006

Dollars and Cents

For years now, a common mistake on store signage has bothered me. You know how when something is 50 cents, it’s normally written as say $0.50? I’ve seen a countless number of signs that list it as 0.50¢, which means I should be able to walk into the place with a penny and buy the object. After all, half a cent is way cheaper than half a dollar!

And I realize that it’s just a tiny part of me that wants to exploit that kind of mistake, which I’m guessing is based on the failure of our educational system. But if I got, say, a telephone bill where such a mistake was made I’d be mighty pissed.

So listen to this guy George’s experience with Verizon, in which 3 different people don’t understand that .002¢ is different than $0.002. It is truly amazing and sad.

Ultimately, by the way, he got an apology and refund. But what he had to go through to get to that point is truly something else.

If anyone wants to try the 0.50¢ thing at a real store, be sure to let me know how it goes.

Posted in Get Off My Lawn

Terry M. December 12, 2006, 3:44 pm

I rememember, when I was very young, the grocery store where we used to go printed price tags with a $ sign but without a decimal point, so $2.39 would be written as $239. I wanted a particular box of brand name cereal but my mom said it was very expensive, and I looked at the price tag and I saw she was right. So we got the generic version instead, but, I still felt guilty and/or thought my mom was a saint, for spending a couple of hundred dollars on a box of cereal. 🙂

Paul December 12, 2006, 4:14 pm

Terry, the lack of decimal point is common around here. My wife and I have a running joke about it – for instance, we saw on signs that one could get a McRib for $220, and a steak dinner for $1600. That’s a lot!

mel December 13, 2006, 3:06 pm

Wow. I couldn’t even listen to the entire phone call…

I’ve seen ¢ used in place of $ numerous times but assumed it was a simple mistake. I thought it would be funny to go into one of these places and demand the price that they have on their signage, but also assumed that they would realize the mistake and think me silly for trying to get that price so I never did. I never really believed that anyone would find .50¢ to be the same as $.50, especially after having pointed out the mistake… Maybe I should have gone in and tried.

I vow to all the world to raise my kids with basic math skills.

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