J.C. Penney may not be what you thought it to be, discount-wise. At least, that is according to former employee Bob Blatchford who spoke to NBC last year about the ‘questionable’ pricing strategies the company employs in its stores.
According to Blatchford, the company was drastically hiking prices on a regular basis, simply in order to reduce them again and advertising huge discounts:
“I saw a lot of pricing teams going through the store, raising the prices, mostly doubling — towels and clothing. Then they would go on sale, and they wouldn’t always go on sale for 50 percent off. Not only was it a fake sale, but they were actually paying more than they would have been previously,” Blatchford said.
But it seems that Blatchford is now on the back-foot, as his employers, J.C. Penney, fired him just two days after he made his controversial comments on the Today Show. Even when he tried to apply for unemployment benefit J.C. Penney contested his claim. They also filed an arbitration petition to get Blatchford to return any company documents in his possession.
The questionable J.C Penney pricing strategies are nothing new. It’s a well-known fact that retailers, particularly larger ones, grossly manipulate their prices in order to get increased revenue, according to Mark Elwood, author of Bargain Fever: How To Shop In A Discounted World: “We are chemically programmed to respond to sales.”
By way of a response, a regional executive at J.C. Penney told reporters that customers have responded well to price changes, reporting that they don’t understand that often they are overpaying for much of the merchandise they purchase. As the exec pointed out, correctly, “Guess that’s retail.”
As an example of the type of sales strategy the company uses, take the Michael Graves Design Bells and Whistles Stainless Steel Tea Kettle which was originally priced at $40. Under the new strategy the item’s price was hiked to $58 – and then reduced by 45% in a “sale,” bringing it back down to $39.99.
Whichever way you look at it, what is clear is that J.C Penney, and other retailers, are using manipulative pricing methods to play on their customers weaknesses in an effort to achieve ever higher revenues in the highly competitive retail market.