Rip-off Alert: Scotch Magic Tape – $3.16 a roll!
And that’s the three pack price. A single roll will set you back $3.79. I know this is completely off topic, but I had to share. My company is not too big on office supplies, and I am somewhat particular about the things I use. So I will pick up odds and ends occasionally at Staples for home and office. Today’s trip started with Scotch tape, as the smoke plastic dispenser at work was running low and I knew I was down to one roll in my home stock. I had two Staples Rewards certificates totaling $10.60, so I figured that I could kick in another few bucks and pickup; tape, paper clips and cheap pens (everyone always wants to borrow my Cross pen). Well, that was not to be.
I couldn’t believe that the regular price on a three-pack of Scotch tape was $9.49. The Staples brand was not much better at $8.79 for a three-pack. I don’t buy Scotch tape very often, but when did this happen? I remember maybe back in 2008 paying $8 or $9 for a six-pack, but this pricing really threw me. They did have a three-pack on sale for $7.00, which was less painful (turns out it was only 800” vs. the website’s 1000” rolls), but still grossly overpriced. Is 3M really still paying down the technology and equipment to make this tape, after at least 40 years and most likely several trillion rolls? And as I am sure 3M controls the entire tape market, don’t expect this pricing to ever go down due to competition. There probably is none.
I did some calculating and the 800” / 66.66 ft. 3/4” rolls I purchased would come out to $0.047 per foot at the retail price. Wow! Something to think about the next time you start pulling that stuff out of a dispenser. Next year when Christmas comes around I will consider an alternative to Scotch tape. That got me thinking about staples. A premium box of 5,000 staples will set you back $3.79. That works out to 62 staples for ever foot of Scotch tape. I think staples will work for some gift wrapping, but I may have to attach (staple) a Band-Aid to each box. But don’t even get me started on how inflated Band-Aid prices are (think 1800% markup, really!).
At work I have been taping a daily report on a wall for everyone to see. Figure I am using about 6” of tape per day, or almost $0.12 per week. While thinking about this with the Magic (Gold) Tape in hand I decided to pickup a package of push pins, another valuable commodity at the office. Found a 100 pack for $2.29, or $0.046 for two push-pins, just what I need to hang my report. The fastener that keeps on giving, at least until someone borrows one, leaving my report swinging in the air.
Not quite as outrageous as the Scotch tape price, I also picked up a 1,000 pack of #1 paper clips for $5.29. Personally I hate these little things, and instead opt for the jumbo anti-skid variety (that I shelled out $14 for last month). But I put together bundles of service invoices for our techs every day and use these little things, hoping to never get them back. Like the tape, I can recall paying $2-$3 for a 1000 pack of #1s not so long ago. And maybe $6-$7 for a 1000 pack of jumbo anti-skids. What happened? Although the push pins were made in China, the paper clips were made in the USA. Not sure if that explains it, but I think paper clips have always been made in the USA. On the same machines, and packed in the same box as they have been for more than half a century.
Oh, and here’s a deal alert. While compiling the images for this story on the Staples website, I realized that I just paid $0.20 to $0.40 more for every item I purchased today. So, while I always try to do my part to help the local economy and keep those youngsters employed, as long as Staples continues to offer free shipping, you are going to have to find some other sucker to pay these inflated prices to support that brick and mortar store. Nothing personal. It’s just business.