Buyer Beware

I just picked up my monthly supply of allergy meds.  For the last two years I have been handing seventy dollars over to Walgreens every month and they have provided prescription generic Allegra – 180 milligrams of antihistamine bliss.  The price seems high for generic, but what can one do?  Pay up or sneeze, wheeze and swell.

Imagine my surprise when, while standing in line to pay my monthly tribute to the Walgreens drug cartel, I noticed, way across the store, a display of brand name Allegra.  I reluctantly got out of line to see how much they were charging for the real stuff. Twenty-four dollars! How could that be – almost one third of my cost?

I grabbed a bottle and took it to the pharmacy and asked the guy behind the counter a few questions.

“Is there any difference between the generic you’ve been selling me and this stuff on display?” I asked.

“No,” he replied.

“Then why should I buy the prescription generic you have for me?” I questioned.

“You shouldn’t,” he remarked.

“But, you would have sold me the generic for seventy dollars, when the same thing was available, brand name, for twenty four?”

“Yup,” he said – now smiling, “Buyer beware.”

No shit – buyer beware.

What a concept, what a notion – buyer beware.  One of basic truths here in the good old USA – the ultimate responsibility for a transaction is pushed to the buyer.  It’s okay for the vendor to do whatever it takes to make the sale.  It’s okay to sell shitty overpriced products.  Misrepresenting what is being sold is just a persuasion tactic.  After all, everyone’s got to make a living.

It’s really up to the customer to figure out what is medicine and what is snake-oil.   We have one hell of a system.

And you know, we don’t just buy physical things.  Ideas, philosophies and stories are among the less tangible things we buy.  But the notion still applies.

For instance, if a guy runs for public office – let’s say president of the USA.  That guy can try to sell a set of ideas like getting us out of two quagmire wars, closing down illegal detention centers like Guantanamo Bay and bringing long overdue change to national government.  And, perhaps, we will buy and elect that guy.

But, after years in office, if he has not ended the wars, if he has not closed down Guantanamo, if the only real change we see is the color of the guy in charge.  Well,  it’s just another case of buyer beware.

Yup, one hell of a system.



3 thoughts on “Buyer Beware

  1. It also happens with the larger “economy size” bottle sometimes costing more per ounce than the little bottle. But it can just be the market as well as deception. Everything’s on pricing algorithms now. The price you’re offered online is higher than the price the lady next door sees because the vendor’s website thinks you have a higher income, and you’ve bought similar items recently, showing them you have some demand in you. The little bottles got marked down since they were selling slow yesterday, and will go back up Tuesday if volume picks up. It’s not really unfair to do this, as sellers (monopoly situations excepted) have a right to ask whatever prices they want and haggle on them, a thing you’ll insist on if you decide to sell your car. Common 50 years ago in our Great Society days, it’s just faster-paced now. Yet I bet Walgreen’s will fire the pharmacist if you can substantiate the content of that conversation. Caveat emptor, but also “seller zip those lips.”

      • Martin Shkreli’s blatant gouging in the cost hike of Daraprim from $13 to $750 is something the government should step on, as he is in fact a monopolist. Unfortunately, regulation of this kind (as was done with landline phone but not wireless or Internet) has gone out the window.

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