Unit Pricing Obfuscation: Nothing Exceeds Like Excess!

Walmart Tissue Unit Prices
Walmart Tissue Unit Prices

What with this being allergy season, my ladies blew through our tissue stockpile in short order and it’s time to reload. Give that we’re just blowing our noses it in, deluxe-edition tissue paper isn’t a priority, but these Wal-Mart unit-price stickers are not nearly as helpful as they could be…


  • The second label is for a shrink-wrapped block of three boxes.
  • The bottom label is for a name-brand tissue that’s unit-priced per sheet.


  • Which container has the least expensive sheets?
  • The most expensive?
  • Is the 3-pack more or less expensive than a 1-pack?

Essay: why do you think Wal-Mart does this?

More unit pricing grumbling.

6 thoughts on “Unit Pricing Obfuscation: Nothing Exceeds Like Excess!

    1. It turns out there’s a law about this. New York Agriculture and Markets Law, Article 17, Section 214-h (Unit Pricing), subsection 2 (Definitions), subsection d (“Price per measure shall mean:), paragraph 5: “price per square foot or square yard, as appropriate, for commodities whose net quantity is expressed in units of area and the “ply” count, if any, provided that the same unit of measure is used for the same commodity in all sizes”. Maryland is more succinct, in Title 01 Subtitle 01 (consumer protection), section 14-106 (Compliance), subsection 9 (Uniformity), paragraph A “If different brands of the same consumer commodity are expressed in more than one measuring unit, the sales agency, if it is possible to do so, shall unit price the items consistently within the same product category. The more familiar measuring unit found in the product group is to be used if conversion and uniformity are possible.” For the curious, NIST assembles ’em all here: http://www.nist.gov/pml/wmd/metric/upload/US-Pricing-Laws-All-States_2.pdf

      1. NIST assembles ‘em all here

        As of this morning, their website seems to have suffered a stroke: that’s a dead link and many of their internal links produce a screen of the total gibberish indicating a server crash. I’ll check it in a few days to see if they’ve recovered…

  1. Could be worse; could be “per acre”, “per gram”, “per mole”, “per cubic cubit”, “per keV”, and “per uCi”…

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