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April Fool's

Did you fall for any April Fool’s Day pranks this year? Some supermarket shoppers did – and some of them aren’t too happy about it.

As a retailer, pulling a prank on your clientele is always something of a risky proposition. What’s funny to some customers, could turn some of the gullible and the humorless into ex-customers.

Like this Price Chopper shopper: “I will shop some place else!” Or this one: “This has to be a joke. If not I will make Shop Rite and Walmart the only stores I shop at.”

They were among the hundreds of comments in response to what looked like an innocuous (and somewhat obvious) April Fool’s joke posted on the New York grocery chain’s Facebook page on Tuesday: “Due to numerous complaints from our customers regarding excessive spare change as well as stray pennies lying in our parking lots & stores, we will no longer be accepting pennies at our registers effective May 1st.”

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Humor-challenged penny-lovers were not amused. “Let me just say that if I don’t get my EXACT change at the register even if it is ONE cent I will not shop there!” fumed one commenter. “If I am purchasing items and my change is a few cents, I want it!” wrote another. “That is illegal – pennies are legal tender – you really wanna mess with the feds?” asked a third.

Perhaps the joke hit close to home for some, since it’s not necessarily far-fetched. At least one grocery chain, in Europe, has experimented with rounding off prices to the nearest whole number to avoid pesky change. Some countries, including Canada, have phased out their pennies altogether. Other stores, right here in the U.S., have refused payments in coins before – and despite one Price Chopper commenter’s contention, there is “no Federal statute mandating that a private business, a person or an organization must accept currency or coins as payment for goods and/or services,” according to the U.S. Treasury.

Other grocery stores’ April Fool’s jokes were a bit milder. As pictured above, Seattle’s QFC announced the opening of a new store on top of Mt. Rainier. The West Coast’s Fresh & Easy announced “fresh & speedy Drive Thru! Zip through our aisles and grab everything you need without even having to park,” plus “all-new premium just laid eggs. As in, like laid one second ago!” And the online grocery company Fresh Direct unveiled “eagle-caught salmon”, grabbed right out of the river by Fresh Direct-sponsored eagles and delivered at the peak of freshness.

Whole Foods sat out April Fool’s Day this year, after pulling elaborate hoaxes in years past. The store has been known to redesign its website to feature products like “organic air”, a promise that every purchase of organic bananas comes with a free spider (something that these people probably don’t find amusing) and, in a play on its pricey reputation, a new feature allowing shoppers to “set up a direct deposit account to have your whole paycheck automatically converted to a Whole Foods Market gift card.”

Some applauded Whole Foods for the self-deprecating jokes. Others said it seemed more like Whole Foods was looking down at, and mocking, its own customers (some of whom might actually be interested in organic air, for $6.99 a bottle).

But there will always be those who can’t take a joke. To the rest, that in itself is part of the fun. “Great joke,” one commenter wrote in response to Price Chopper’s “no more pennies” post. “The funnier part is gullible people still overreacting instead of reading the 50 comments clearly stating its an April Fool’s joke!”

One Comment

  1. It’s always that really small minority that ruins it all for the rest of us.
    They go out of their way to be ‘insulted’…as being ‘insulted’ is like winning the lottery these days. Insulted??? $$$$ Ca-Ching!! $$$$
    Oh, so sorry we hurt your feelings-here’s a big fat wad of cash.

    (My favorite is the extra fresh eggs.)

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