Friday, November 14, 2014

Why I eat cereal I don't like

I normally don't have a problem with the store brand of food. There are a few items I won't compromise on, but in general, the store brand is the same quality and taste as the name brand at a lower price. 

Recently I decided to try the store brand of a particular cereal I have been enjoying for months. I thought I'd save a dollar ($0.05/ounce to be exact) and get the store brand this time. Might as well give it a go. I could save a few dollars a year if I switch. 

Big. Mistake. 

This particular cereal needs to be respected. The name brand is heads above the store brand. The name brand is crunchy, yummy, sweet, and all out delicious. The store brand tastes like a mix of cardboard and chalk. It lacks the little clusters of sweetness that I love so much. It skimps on the good stuff and what's left is definitely sub-par.

But I've been eating it anyway. I mean, I already spent a couple bucks on the box, I might as well suffer through it and then I can go back to the delicious name brand and never make that mistake again.

As I ate this second class breakfast food one morning, more than halfway through the box at this point, I realized something. I live in a society where customer service is king, where we can get our money back, where we don't have to endure cardboard cereal if we don't want to.

And what do I find on the side of the cereal box? A promise. A guarantee. 

If I am not 100% satisfied with the product, I can return it for a replacement or a refund. 

It said it -- right there on the box. I don't have to endure this madness. I can get my money back! 

Image found here
But then I realized, despite all my complaining about the cereal, that I would just finish the box and return to my name brand on my next trip to the store.

But why? Why suffer through the nasty? 

A few reasons...

1. I didn't think of it. While some people might be on the look out for how to get free stuff, I honestly didn't think of returning the box. It's a food item and once opened, it can't be reused by the company. In my eyes, buying the cereal was a risk on my part and I honestly didn't think of it being a returnable product. 

2. I'm not that kind of person. I'd like to think that I'm not the type of person to get worked up over a few bucks and a couple weeks of less than perfect breakfast experiences. Surely I can just eat the cereal and then move on -- never returning to it again after this box. 

3. It isn't worth it. Let's be honest. The real reason I didn't return the box, even halfway through, was simply because it isn't worth it to me. In order to get my money back I would have to try to find a receipt, get the box of cereal, and go to the store. From there, I have to find a spot in the parking lot, walk all the way inside to the customer service desk, and then stand in line. Then, I have to explain to the employee that I don't like the cereal in the box. They will ask why. I will have to communicate (ugh). It's just too much work. I might get my $2.58 back, but after how many minutes of work? 

Finding receipt: 2 minutes
Driving to the store: 10 minutes
Parking: 5 minutes
Line waiting: 3-10 minutes
Exchange time: 3 minutes

Even at minimum wage, I probably won't cover the cost of the time spent returning the box of cereal. If I make more than minimum wage, it's certainly not worth it. 

It's a cute gesture, really, that the store guarantees my satisfaction with the product. But unless I am truly disgusted and extremely tight, I'm not going to bother returning it. I'd rather suffer through the cereal or even just throw the box away before bothering to return it. And the company knows that, so they have no problem adding the guarantee to every box they produce. It's not that they won't oblige you, it's that they know you likely won't bother. And they're probably right. 

What would you do? Would you return the box? 


  1. Ok, if you got it at HEB by all means take it back.....the next time you go. They want to know what you think. So when you are there, get a comment card and fill it out....yes they actually read them. And as far as recipts go, all you need is 12 zip type baggies. Get one the first of each month and out every receipt you get in it. Label it and save will come in handy one day and the habit you develop just may save you if you are ever audited by that kind government group called the IRS.��

    1. I knew there was going to be a misspelling.... OUT is supposed to be PUT. JML.....just my luck!

    2. Thanks for your comment! I love the suggestion of the baggies... easy way to save receipts!
      It wasn't HEB but I know the store would take the cereal back if I bothered. I was attempting to point out that even though I could take the product back, I likely won't because of the opportunity cost. My time is worth more than the money I spent on the cereal. If I went to the grocery store all the time, I would probably take it back. But, I live with others and I don't often have to make the grocery run so it's not worth the time to me and I imagine to some others as well (:
      Thank you for reading!