Obviously, I realise this means the snacks are hideously over-priced at £2.89 - that M&S make a very satisfactory profit from them being priced at £2 a pack. I get it's just an insidious means of playing on our greed and sense of value. They know that the average buyer will stand there and think, “Umm, one looks a bit meagre and if I'm having two I'd be stupid not to buy three.” So, my purchase of one £2 snack - or admitting that I'm a fat greedy bastard, £4 snack - becomes a £6 sale. So far, so normal. And it surely says something about our society that we're so used to this cynical manipulation of us that we just shrug our shoulders. But there's more.
The deli-range was on three shelves, 9 snacks, three on each shelf. My third pick – the one to make up the numbers - was spicy chicken something or other. These were placed right in the middle – in position 5 if you will. I added some hummus and pittas and the cashier asked for £10.84. That seemed a lot. I studied the receipt and saw I'd been charged £2.89 for each of the three snacks.
I questioned this, and the manager was summoned. Apparently the spicy chicken wasn't included in the promotion. Just the other eight products surrounding it. Which leads me to the conclusion that M&S has worked out that enough people pick the spicy chicken as one of their three picks (and probably the last one), and then when they get to the tills either don't notice their mistake, or don't like to complain. And M&S turns a potential £4 sale into an £8.67 one. Ker-ching.
Presumably they've also estimated that the profit is worth more than the cost of the irritation to those stuck in the queue behind those who do complain; and from the negative marketing from those who moan about it afterwards, and from the bad reputation that builds-up like limescale on their brand, from such gimlet-eyed cynicism.
The snacks, by the way, were shit.