AUG 26, 2004 1:00am ET

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Gaming the System


A few weeks ago I was in a department store and found some expensive dinnerware that was on a half price sale. I also noticed that some of the items were priced quite differently to the advertised 50 percent discount. Several were much cheaper than this, while a few others were actually 10 times more expensive than the regular price. In addition I had two personal discounts that I could apply to any purchase. After picking out the dinnerware items that were the best buy, I went to the checkout. The mispricing and my personal discounts layered on top of the special sale were more than the terminal could handle. "But don't worry," said the sales clerk, "I can get round it." Indeed she could. I watched as she used a series of manual overrides and what she called "special ways of doing things" to input a long series of transactions. The clerk warned me that my receipt would look a bit odd, but the final figure was the cost that I had calculated. That was what I paid, and I walked away happy.

What is "Gaming the System?"

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