My salad dressing days

September 7, 2006, 11:47 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I’ve always been a (conscious and conscientious) objector to the whole ninety nine pence thing. Y’know, the whole ‘well, if we make it £19.99, no-one will really realise that it’s actually twenty quid, because paying twenty-something quid for [insert name of unnecessary consumer item] would create a psychological barrier in the eyes of the potential purchaser’ (‘yah, yah, Tristan – good point!’). Et cetera.

I mean, what a dim view the marketeers of the world must have of the Great British Public!

Up the revolution and all that (provided guillotines are not involved…public beheadings? very unpleasant, I should imagine).

But cut to yesterday in Waterstones, when I find myself making an impromptu purchase of Hilary Mantel’s autobiography (£7.99).

‘That’ll be eight pounds!’ trills the assistant.


I screw up my eyes and check the liquid crystal display on the till.

Nope, seven ninety-nine.

I hand over a tenner.

The till drawer shoots out.

The assistant passes me the receipt, two pound coins and A PENNY.


This lack of precision irked me.

I am clearly not ready for The Revolution.


13 Comments so far
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Everything in Primark is rounded off to a pound, and that’s a shop which is forging ahead profits-wise.

So is the revolution being led by Primark?

Or is it just the case that it’s easier to pull the wool over the eyes of people who shop at the “higher” end of the high street?

Comment by Betty

Apparently, the 99p thing is all about keeping pennies in circulation.

No, I don’t understand it, either.

Comment by Wyndham

If you only pay 99p for stuff you get bucket loads of pennies and in the course of the year they add up to, like, a whole £3.50!

Comment by frangelita

According to an auditor I know, the 99p thing is in fact about ensuring that the checkout assistant has to open the till so as to give you change of 1p instead of trousering your money him/herself.

I have noticed a trend towards not being given the 1p change though and of course I’d feel far too stupid to ask for it.

Comment by GreatSheElephant

In Australia, the smallest coin is 5 cents. But the prices, expecially in supermarkets, are all 3.97, 4.99 etc.

It gets rounded up or down at the till. Very odd.

Comment by Spinsterella

I fear change


(Word verification: hedwlvv – like Spud U Like, but using brains and eyeballs…)

Comment by the plate invigilator

It’s funny but £8.00 sounds smaller to me than £7.99. I think it’s to do with the size of my brain cell…it can fit in 2 noughts more easily than 2 nines.

Comment by mig bardsley

they do the exact same thing here UC. Only its dollars and cents. Same concept. $19.99 just to make you think you’re not paying $20. They think we’re all retarded.

Comment by Kyahgirl


I remember when that change was made… sometime in 1995ish I believe. Up until then there were one cent coins in Australia.

I do agree it’s weird – thought that rounding up and down thing would have been resolved by now (10 years later)

WOW I feel REALLY old now.

I heard about that 99p makes the teller open the register argument before. Which doesn’t really make sense, since said teller could just keep a bowl of pennies under the counter if they don’t want to ring up the purchase.

Besides, if the shop has a scanner that argument is redundant since once the purchase is scanned in, they don’t need to open the register to record the sale.

I think it’s just left over marketer psyche from the dim and distant past.

Comment by SBB

I must admit I do find M&S refreshing for its proper round prices. I like the idea too that McDonalds have (I only go in for a bottle of (99p) water, honest, guv) of putting the charity box there for the penny. It must all add up.

Comment by Lulu

I’m always ready for the Revolution…oh, sorry, thinking about vodka again…

Comment by Beth

What about petrol prices? For example – 98.9 pence a litre. That 0.9 of a pence really bothers me. Do they round my petrol up so I always get my entire money’s worth? I NEED to know.

Comment by J.J

If you are a conscientious objector, does that mean you gave the penny back. I usually do – or I toss it in the bin. I mean who needs kilos or pennies cluttering their pockets?

Spinsterella – the reason I get rid of the pennies is because I’m Australian and I have lived without small brown coins. Live – small brown coins = better life.

Comment by Damian

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