Cracking the code: The secret language of price tags

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PITTSBURGH —

Saving money isn't always as obvious as the sale sign in the window.  If you know what to look for, you could save hundreds of dollars a year.

Channel 11’s Katherine Amenta did some digging and spoke to experts about the science of price tags. As it turns out, most tags have their own hidden language that gives consumers a chance to save a lot of money.

 Until now, that language was a trade secret, shared only among retailers.

“We've cracked the code as consumers and that's always a great thing,” said Duquesne University marketing professor Dr. Audrey Guskey.

 It's called price tag coding and many retailers develop their own systems to let their employees know what's on sale and what is full price. 

 Coupon blogger Kyle James said he’s made it his mission to figure out that pricing.

 “My favorite one is Costco,” said James.  “The holy grail of Costco is that little asterisk, you see that in the upper right hand corner…That's the best price you're gonna get.”

 Target is another example.  James says prices that end in 99 cents are full price.  Anything that ends in eight, like 88 cents or 78 cents is a clearance item.

 “I used it quite a bit at Christmas,” said James.  “I probably saved $200 to $300 dollars. The cool thing is I get employees telling me. Then I feel pretty confident that it's good information.”

 James says he's cracked American Eagle's code as well.  He says full price items end in 95 cents. 

Amenta contacted American Eagle and several other stores to talk about their systems. 

 They weren’t too eager to share their secrets.  But, James didn’t mind sharing.  He has created a cheat sheet for several stores you can keep in your wallet.  See James’ cheat sheet HERE.