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# Supermarket Jackpot

"Ok, your total is \$175…" WHOOP! WHOOP! WHOOP! "Oh, congratulations, your groceries are free."
 (+12) [vote for, against]

On average, every 50th shopper gets their groceries free. Once the bill is tallied, the clerk hits total and either says "\$89.76 please." or a jackpot alarm goes off along with a rotating beacon and a sign that lights up "JACKPOT! \$89.76 IN GROCERIES FREE!"

It would obviously have to work on averages so people wouldn't just count shoppers and check out when they were the 50th one. You'd do the same thing the casinos do with slot machines. Enough wins to keep people interested but not enough to break the house.

The idea would be that more people would shop there to get a chance to get their groceries free which would pay for the 1 in 50 baskets of groceries.

The fun part would be that if you bought a stick of gum you'd feel like a heel, so people might even tend to buy more.

Somebody has to have thought of this.

 — doctorremulac3, Dec 20 2013

http://en.wikipedia...le_(betting_system) [hippo, Dec 23 2013]

I like this.
 — MaxwellBuchanan, Dec 20 2013

So what's the policy on returns?
 — Voice, Dec 21 2013

 — doctorremulac3, Dec 21 2013

 //work on averages so people wouldn't just count shoppers//

Ah, but most people hold to the gambler's fallacy. I bet that as soon as the alarm went off, shoppers would linger instead of going straight to the checkout.
 — MaxwellBuchanan, Dec 21 2013

Simple, make the selection algorithm favour bunches of 2 or 3 wins slightly more often than expected.
 — pocmloc, Dec 21 2013

 //I bet that as soon as the alarm went off, shoppers would linger instead of going straight to the checkout.//

 Yea, I could actually see some people hearing the jackpot alarm and either putting their stuff back or even leaving their carts where they are and leaving the store. Pocmloc's idea might help, not sure.

 I'm fascinated by the study of un-intended consequences and I'd love to see how people would react to this in the real world.

 You'd probably have to have something remind them that their cart could be next, but even then, some would probably just bail, wait around before checking out or otherwise figure out some way to make this idea not work and ruin it for everybody. Never underestimate the power of dumb people to mess up a good system.

Un-intended consequence #2: Dirty looks from all the other shoppers when you win.
 — doctorremulac3, Dec 21 2013

I was at Tesco this evening picking up a marked-down item for dinner, and there were 4 cashiers plus self service machines, I would estimate at least 25 people queueing, and this is a small "metro" shop at a quiet time of day. So with 1 in 50 winners, a 50% chance of a win while I am queueing and a high likelyhood of at least 3 while I was in the shop. In a big shop there would likely be winners every few minutes.
 — pocmloc, Dec 21 2013

 I know, I think it would be very exciting.

 All other things being equal, assuming they have the same stuff as all the other stores, I'd shop there. Why not? Unlike the lottery with it's millions to 1 odds, you've got a 1 in 50 chance of winning. Those are pretty good odds especially considering you're not paying anything extra for the chance to play. And you've got the chance to get something free you need anyway.

 Un-intended consequence #3: I wonder if you'd get jerks who would just load up the cart with the most expensive stuff, get rung up, see they didn't win and leave. Maybe you would need to put your payment method in first. Still, you can't tell somebody that they can't cancel a transaction. Even then, I'm not sure if there would be enough jerks doing stuff like that to ruin it for everybody. Plus the people would have to pull that stunt an average of 50 times before it paid off. That's an awful lot of work. The store could also not serve them if they did this more than a couple of times I guess.

Might be fussing over a problem that wouldn't happen though.
 — doctorremulac3, Dec 21 2013

 No first you pay like normal, then you run your receit (sp?) through the lottery machine. Only receipts (sp?) for more then 25 euro's are accepted in the lottery machine. If you win, the lottery machine automatically reimburses your money back to your bank account. Only works if you pay with your pinnumber.

 If you intend to buy for 75 euro's worth of stuff, would you check out in batches of three to increase your chance to win or would hope to get it all back in one go?

Doesn't give money back to every 50th customer but gives you a 1 in 50 chance to win.
 — zeno, Dec 21 2013

 //No first you pay like normal, then you run your receipt through the lottery machine. Only receipts for more then 25 euro's are accepted in the lottery machine. If you win, the lottery machine automatically reimburses your money back to your bank account. Only works if you pay with your pin number.//

 Wow, perfect! Problem solved. Smart solution Z.

Got a solution for the dirty looks from other customers?
 — doctorremulac3, Dec 21 2013

 // solution for dirty looks? // Yeah, just make it so you have to take the receipt home and type a code from it into their web page. Have the alarm sound at a random interval 0 to 5 minutes after the transaction was completed. So if you hear the alarm go off while loading your car, you'll be sure to check when you get home. Making peopel go to the web site is anohte rmarketing opportunuity, you can make them take a survey to find out if they won, and some people won't even bother.

 Why are people worried about minimum purchases? If you buy a stick of gum and win it's free, you'll be happy and it won't cost the store very much for that round. On average it just makes everything 2% cheaper.

I'm trying to figure out if this falls under gambling regulations or not. It's not like you can actually get more out than what you put it, it is just randomly applied extreme discount. The 2% cost would be passed on to the customer, but that might be offset by reduced advertising costs or something. To make it even less like gambling, rather than returning the cash, just print a coupon good for that much off the next purchase (Expires in 2 weeks). No purchase necessary. Enter as many times as you like. When you win, the discount will be for the total amount of your winning transaction, from \$0 to \$1,000,000.
 — scad mientist, Dec 23 2013

It would be interesting if people started to try betting strategies such as a Martingale (see link) to try and 'beat the system'. For example, with a Martingale, every time you 'lost' - i.e. didn't get free groceries - you would double your 'bet' on the next go. A Martingale system will leave you even or perhaps slightly ahead eventually, but relies on you having infinite resources (and space to put the groceries). As an example, if you start by buying something which costs £1 and don't hit the jackpot until the 25th time you visit the supermarket, by that time a Martingale system will require you to spend about £33m (i.e. 2^25 pounds) on groceries.
 — hippo, Dec 23 2013

Did you bring your own bags, sir?
 — calum, Dec 23 2013

 Rather than "every 50th shopper", the selection needs to be randomised. That way, the odds of winning are fixed and there's no reason why two shoppers can't "win" within a few seconds of one another; equally, there might not be a winner for hours.

 The system could be made elective, based on loyalty cards. At the checkout, the customer gains points; they may then choose to add the points to their total (and redeem them at a later date for goods or services), or gamble them in the hope of winning their shopping for free.

 Human nature being what it is, by controllong the odds on the same basis as gambling machines, the store is on to yet another nice little earner.

Posession of a loyalty card acts as a gatekeeper for under age gambling, and for those morally opposed to gambling they can just take the loyalty points.
 — 8th of 7, Dec 23 2013

 //Rather than "every 50th shopper", the selection needs to be randomised. That way, the odds of winning are fixed and there's no reason why two shoppers can't "win" within a few seconds of one another; equally, there might not be a winner for hours.//

 Yes, it would be "on average", the trick would be getting the public to realize that you could go hours without a win and have 5 wins within an hour. You don't want people thinking they've "figured out a system" and screwing things up.

 That might be a marketing problem more than anything. Just make it clear in the commercials how it works.

 I don't think gambling laws would apply because this isn't gambling. Your buying groceries, you pay for them and legally, the transaction is over. The grocery store just elects to give some people all their money back. To gamble you have to be able to lose.

Like the customer loyalty idea.
 — doctorremulac3, Dec 24 2013

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