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Understanding money, debt and income. Deceptive advertising and marketing manipulation, how to get the best values, the Columbine tragedy, and even a little history of mass marketing. Editorials by Rick Doble, Editor.
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In the last issue I printed this letter: "I really like . I'm a firm believer in value and common sense and you preach both. Many thanks."

Recently I got another letter from a reader who complained that "much of what you say is just common sense."

I work very hard to explain the modern hi-tech world in common sense terms. If what I say is easy to understand, I have succeeded. In fact you could not give me a greater compliment.

In addition, when I cover a topic or a new idea, I want to be complete. I cannot assume that everyone knows all the standard background information. For example, I know from my research that a large number of burglars break into houses by entering an unlocked window. While this may be obvious, clearly many people are not aware.

But lets take an example of an everyday problem that all of us face, a problem which could be explained in complicated hi-tech babble or business mumbo-jumbo or explained in simple common sense terms.

I am talking about price scanning errors. I could talk about bar coding and laser readers and satellites and data bases and computer errors. Or I could tell you to write down the price of everything you buy and then watch each price as it is rung up (which is a lot of work). Or I could reduce this problem to common sense.

The common sense approach starts by asking these questions: Are there many more scanning errors in some cases than in others? The answer is yes. Our research revealed that almost all errors are on sale items. The next question is why? Answer: a sale price has to be changed by a human being who has to go into the computer database and alter it just before the sale. There may be hundreds of sale price changes each week for some stores. Every time a change is made there are bound to be some errors. (Sorry, but I did have to mention computers and databases a little.)

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So what is the common sense solution? Put the sale items separately in your shopping cart, ring them up last and pay extra special attention only when these are rung up. Do you need to write the prices down before you check out? Well, of course it wouldn't hurt, but since these are sales items, the price is probably printed in a sales flyer. Check prices against the flyer and if there is a problem, the flyer is also proof of an error.

Sounds simple doesn't it? Well, if it does, then I have done my job.

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