Unit Price Perplexity

Monday, February 16, 2009 at 7:43 PM | Filed under , ,

I was at Safeway this evening, looking at the huge variety of toothpaste products, trying to choose which one to buy. I was looking at the price tags, and noticed something very irritating.


This Crest Whitening Plus Scope Toothpaste has a red sale tag, and it says that the box of toothpaste costs $2.99. It also displays the toothpaste's unit price: 37.4¢ per ounce.


This Colgate Total Advanced Whitening Toothpaste also has a red sale tag, and it is the same price, at $2.99. The unit price is displayed on this price tag too: $8.26 per pound.

Wait! Why does Safeway give the unit price for the Crest in cents per ounce, but gives it for Colgate in dollars per pound? These are not compatible!

It should be that I could look at the price tags for both the Crest and the Colgate and be able to compare them very easily. But I can't do that, because the units are incompatible! I would have to pull out my calculator and multiply the per-ounce price by 16 to compare them. (Incidentally, the Crest toothpaste contains 8 ounces of toothpaste, whereas the Colgate has 5.8 ounces, so you get more toothpaste per dollar with the Crest.)

AUGH! I shouldn't have to do this! I thought the point was to give customers the opportunity to quickly compare the price per amount of something without having to whip out the calculators!


This last example makes the whole situation even worse. This 6-ounce Colgate Max Fresh Toothpaste has a red tag price of $2.49. Unit price: $41.50 per 100. Per hundred of what? From what I can tell by shaking the box, there seems to be only one tube of toothpaste in it. If I bought 100 of these boxes, that would cost $249.00, not $41.50. I thought about this a moment and did some calculations to check: Safeway means that this toothpaste costs $41.50 per 100 ounces! Why??

Safeway, you're driving me crazy!

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