Here’s an interesting story sent in by a reader.
“It can’t be, it must be a mistake, they must have overcharged me” – I thought as a raced out the door of my local hardware store. “They stuff I just bought was on special. They’ve charged me the full quid!”
“No, it’s not a mistake” the store attendant said. “We always show the retail price on the packaging slip. The invoice you get in the mail will show how much you actually pay”.
Why’s that?, I wondered. A bloke in the trade explained it to me like this. Sometimes tradesmen charge stuff for jobs to their own personal account, and then claim the “cost” back from their clients (showing labour and materials separately). If a client asks to look at the paperwork about the materials they are shown the packing slip showing the retail price, not the actual cost.
“So it’s a scam then?”, I asked,. “Well… um… er….no… um…yea”, he replied.
It seems that this practice is fraught with the potential for people to get ripped off. No problem if a tradesman makes it clear to a client that they will be charged full retail price for the materials used on the job, as evidenced by the packing slips, and makes it known that they will make a margin on those materials because they get a trade discount.
The problem is where the benefit of “everyday specials” are not passed onto clients and where tradesman claim they are using packing slips as “evidence” of their “cost” (after all, it takes a good couple of weeks for the invoice to arrive in the mail – and by then the job is probably all finished).
Consumers need to be aware that the packing slip price is a normal retail price, which excludes everyday specials and excludes tradesman discounts.
They also need to know that they can usually go and negotiate their own discount from the merchant (10% “cash” discount for payment on the spot is no problem) and that they will miss out on any specials deals that any member of the public could receive.
Clients may be a better off getting list of materials required by the tradesman and buying the goods themselves. – Oily Rag Ed’