Are We Actually Controlled by a Quarter?

ImageI just returned from a trip to Aldi, the grocery store known for low prices and self-service shopping carts. At Aldi, the shopping carts are locked at the entrance of the store. One is only able to get a cart by opening the lock with a quarter. Likewise, a person must return the cart to the desired location to retrieve his quarter. This is how Aldi works. Embrace it or shop elsewhere.

There is an element of capitalistic and managerial genius to this scheme by Aldi, but that is not the point of my post. I am fascinated at how a quarter (That is 25¢. $0.25. It takes four of them to make a purchase at the dollar store.) is able to control our behavior. In theory, every shopper at Aldi could leave his cart in the parking lot just like any other store. The only penalty for such a choice is a quarter. Yet, I never see a cart anywhere in the Aldi parking lot. The carts are always returned.

Why are we so easily controlled by Aldi’s scheme? I have pondered this on many trips to Aldi, but I have not found a satisfactory answer. Does it only really take a quarter to alter our behavior? Here are a few possible answers to the question.

  • We are that cheap.
  • The quarter causes us to think about money and count the cost.
  • The quarter causes us to consider what is best for Aldi and other customers by returning the cart.
  • The quarter causes us to embrace Aldi’s scheme of reducing costs by needing less employees.

Or is it something else all together? I want to draw some conclusions and reflect on this. I feel sarcasm and silly thoughts abounding in my head. I need your help. Think with me. Why do you return the shopping cart at Aldi? You can comment on this post or one of my Facebook or Twitter pages. social media sites.

2 thoughts on “Are We Actually Controlled by a Quarter?

  1. If you don’t like Aldi, don’t go to Europe! All grocery stores there do this with their shopping carts. In fact, Aldi is a German grocery store. In the UK we had to have a 1 pound coin (at the time that was about $1.50-$1.60 per trip so we definitely wanted our coin back!). We were thrilled to find a special “coin” the size of a 1 pound coin that we could put on our key chain and use in the “buggy”! Hey wait, maybe we need to do that here and sell special coins the size of a quarter!!! While it may be pain to return the cart, it saves the store $$, protects cars and you could even save parking spaces that currently get used for the shopping cart return spaces!!!

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