Worst Discount Ever

Published by patrick honner on

This has to be some kind of record for smallest difference between sale price and regular price.

Using the standard formula for percent change

we find the difference in sale price and original price to be

\frac{119.99 - 119.00} {119.99} \approx 0.00825

That’s a 0.8% discount!  Was this really worth printing up a “SALE!” sign?

patrick honner

Math teacher in Brooklyn, New York


MrHonner · December 3, 2011 at 10:50 am

It occurs to me that this could be a fun activity with students: a hunt for the worst possible discount price.

Alan (@paintdesigns) · December 3, 2011 at 4:35 pm

Oh my God, that’s a great discount! It beats a “-50%” off discount for Black Friday any day. 🙂

Better 99 cents off than half the price on.

Ahmed A. · December 4, 2011 at 12:45 pm

I don’t have a “worse” discount, but I can tell you that Circuit City did their math wrong:


MrHonner · December 4, 2011 at 1:07 pm

If we are going to have a “Worst Discount Contest”, I think all submissions must be in the form of an original photo from a brick-and-mortar location.

That being said, I admire Geoff’s efforts here: http://emergentmath.wordpress.com/2011/12/04/a-response-to-worst-discount-ever/.

Lily L. · December 4, 2011 at 3:37 pm

Actually, isn’t it even worse that it says “Clearance”? I would expect a clearance sale to be “better” than a regular sale.

MrHonner · December 4, 2011 at 4:59 pm

All amusing, but contest rules dictate that all official entries must be original.

Mike Naylor · December 31, 2011 at 5:15 am

I used to laugh at the large number of “divided by 50%” signs I’d see in Scandanavia. They used the “divided by” symbol of the line with two dots. Much later I found out that in Scandanavia, that symbol means “minus” and not “divided by”.

MrHonner · December 31, 2011 at 11:35 am

Is that really true? So in Scandinavia, someone might write 10 % 2 = 8 ? It’s hard to imagine a worse re-purposing of a symbol.

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