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"Have you ever noticed how things cost seven dollars and ninety-nine cents? Fourteen dollars and ninety-nine cents? Ninety-nine dollars and ninety-nine cents?"
Steve Rhoades, Married... with Children, "The Dateless Amigo"

When the screaming infomercial finally reaches the point of telling you the price you can be sure that price won't be a round number. Nothing will be sold for $10.00, $50.00 or $100.00. Every price will end with .95, .98 or .99.

This trope isn't restricted to TV commercials. Real world pricing follows this trend as well, and has for a long time. Gas stations even go so far as to price gasoline in tenths of a cent, despite the obvious impossibility of paying in tenths of a cent.note  Wikipedia refers to this as "psychological pricing". This particular technique is known as "just-under pricing", and is a psychological tactic to make an item seem cheaper than it actually is. The premise is that people are usually mindless when doing their everyday business, and most advertisements and shopping places are specially designed to avoid having their customers become mindful and give as few cues as possible to wake up the viewer's consciousness; therefore, displaying a price of "$29.99" will, in theory, result in some people mistakingly reading "$20.00". In addition, making the most significant digit smaller (or removing an entire digit, if the price is an exact power of 10) also makes the price look less intimidating; "$9999", therefore, subconsciously looks smaller than "$10000" for the sole reason that the former price has 4 figures and the latter has 5.

Another theory says this method of pricing was originally designed to prevent cashiers from pocketing payments. A price ending with .99 almost guarantees that the cashier will need to open the register to get change, which then logs the sale in the register.

This trope also plays an advantage for the retailer in countries like Japan, South Korea, Chile or Colombia, where one unit of their currency has a very small purchasing power (as of 24 May 2020, 1 USD can be respectively exchanged for 107 yen, 1242 won, 809 Chilean pesos or 3775 Colombian pesos). Simply sell a pack of rice for $32,990 Colombian pesos (about 9 US dollars), receive $33,000 Colombian pesos as payment, pocket the whole money because the smallest coin is worth 50 COP and thus returning 10 COP of change is physically impossible, repeat 38 thousand times (which can easily happen in a single day if you're a big box supermarket), and voilà — 100 free US dollars worth of undelivered change.

The trope has become so prevalent and ingrained that people automatically round prices up in their heads... even if it is a flat price. For instance, a person seeing $29.99, will immediately think "30 bucks", but if it's priced $29 flat, they may still round it up and think "30 bucks". On the other hand, said rounding up is a useful way to calculate whether you're still in your budget; rounding 29.50 down to "29 bucks" and being 50 cents over is a Very Bad Thing indeed.

An oddball one is the Brands-Mart chain located mostly in Florida, where all of the prices end in 88 cents and have 88 in the price as well. When the tax is added, these prices usually come out even. Sometimes prices ending in 88 cents or a similar less than 90 number are used by the store to indicate that an item is discounted; this is common with electronics and games.

Some Goodwill thrift shops price things using a cents figure that is a repetition of the dollars figure; for instance, $13.13. This prevents customers from altering the prices by erasing the numbers—it would be blatantly obvious if someone tried changing that to $3.13.

The gimmick also lends itself well to advertising trickery, as someone can claim their item is available for "under $30!" Well, yes, technically speaking, $29.99 is less than $30...

Prices ending with .99 still appear in Australia, Canada and the Netherlands even though the lowest coin used is 5c: prices are rounded to the nearest 5 cents when paying in cash.note  However, if paying via EFTPOS or credit card, the amount is not rounded.

This thinking is often carried over to large-ticket items, like cars, at least in the US — nobody cares about a few cents when they're spending five digits worth of dollars, but the MSRP (Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price) in dollars will end in 7 or 5 far more often than it will end in 0.

Examples in Media

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    Comic Books 
  • Batman '66: In "The Conqueror Bookworm", Bruce Wayne donates $ 4,999.99 to a charity.
  • A Running Gag in Uncle Scrooge comics — any time an exact amount is given for Scrooge's wealth, it will be a ridiculously high number (in the quadrillions or higher) that always ends with "and 16 cents."

    Comic Strips 

  • Back to the Future Part II features automobile hover-conversions, "only thirty-nine, nine ninety-nine, ninety-five!" ($39,999.95)
  • In Clerks, Dante remarks that all prices end in 0.99.
    • And yet in the background, all the prices end with the number five.
  • Johnny Dangerously first got involved in the mob in order to raise $29.95 to pay for a medical procedure his mother needed (Yes, it sounds silly, but that genuinely was a lot of money for a lower class family at the turn of the 20th Century).
  • In Short Circuit 2 Johnny 5 was worth "Eleven million, two thousand and seventy six dollars... and seventeen cents"

  • Adrian Mole: In a long school uniform shopping list in Secret Diary, almost every single item has a price ending in 99p. In Wilderness Years, Adrian asks for a two-week holiday in Europe costing no more than £300; he is sold one for £299.99.
  • Matilda had Harry Wormwood (the father) advising his son to "Never sell a car for a round number. Always go under by 50 pence. It may not look like much, but it makes the prices look a lot cheaper." It's sadly the most honest sales tactic he has. His other strategies basically involve using cheap methods to make piece of crap cars seem functional long enough for customers to leave the dealership with them.
  • The Meaning of Liff mentions this by inversion, coining the word "Kibblesworth" to refer to the amount by which a price is under the round number - for instance, "£5 kibblesworth a penny".
  • In Hogfather, the actual contents of the Hogfather's sack - once you get past the teddy bear and wooden soldier that are always sticking out of the top, but that no child ever wants or gets - are "something a bit garish and costing $5.99".

    Live-Action TV 
  • An episode of Antiques Roadshow featured an old Sindy doll from the 1960s. The original price was so-many shillings and 11 pence. There was 12 old pence in a shilling, making this the pre-decimal version of the trope.
    • Further to this, there were twenty shillings in a pound, so something costing more than £1 would typically be priced at x pounds 19/11d - i.e. one (old) penny below the round number.
  • Bull Island lampooned several ads for an electrical outlet called Power City by placing their staff in different situations where they were still acting as if they were advertising (at home, out driving, etc.). Power City subsequently dropped the .99 from their prices as a result.
  • A Different World: After becoming tipsy on cheap wine while celebrating her 21st birthday, Whitley states that she would never again buy a wine whose price ended in this trope.
  • In the Future episode of Kenan & Kel. A lady went to buy just some home groceries that costed 43 million dollars...and ninety nine cents.
  • Look Around You shows a machine with a price tag of £999.99½p.
  • In an early episode of Mad Men, Roger gives this to Pete as an example of the kind of thing he should think of as a huge, great advertising idea, as opposed to trying to be witty and subvert expectations.
  • Married... with Children satirized this when Steve, a bank manager, told Al about his idea about a 99 cent coin to make purchases easier. Of course Al mentions the sales tax which is added to the price, making the coin no better than a dollar bill. Since most countries have the sales tax already in the listed price, he might have considered going abroad.
  • As where the current version of The Price Is Right has rounded off their prices to the nearest dollar since 1972 (except for grocery items used in pricing games and the money for the game Pocket Change), the original Bill Cullen Price included cents in their retail prices. The contestants' bids did not reflect this unless the item up for bids—a light bulb, a pair of kids' roller skates, et. al.— required it (such an item would lead to a big bonus for the winner).
  • The Saturday Night Live sketch "39 Cents" features a charity commercial where a man asks for the titular "39 cents a day" to help poor African villagers. This leads two of the villagers in the background to debate the low amount, invoking this trope in the process.
    First Villager: It's not even a round number! Like if you said a dollar, I could see how you got there.
    Second Villager: Yeah, well you know they always tryna take away a penny to make it sound like less.
    First Villager: I get that. I'm just saying, why not start at 99 cents?!

  • The song "Lord, Mr. Ford" by Jerry Reed contains the following lines:
    Well I figured it up and over a period of time, this four thousand dollar car of mine, costs fourteen thousand dollars ,and ninety-nine cents.

    Theme Parks 
  • In the JAWS ride at Universal Studios, the price of Captain Jake's Amity Boat Tours is shown as being $39.95 per person.

    Video Games 
  • Cookie Clicker
    • The flavored cookies have prices that are strings of nines — 99,999,999 for the least expensive varieties and increasing to 99,999,999,999,999 for British Tea Biscuits and 199,999,999,999,999 for French cookies. The ones that can only be unlocked via heavenly chips are priced at 999,999,999,999,999.
      • The Gingerbread Men and Gingerbread Trees flavored cookies avert this, being priced at an even 10 quadrillion cookies each.
    • The base price of the Antimatter Condenser is 3,999,999,999 cookies.

    Web Animation 
  • A Strong Bad Email had a price of $ Yes, that's two forty-nine ninety-nine ninety-nine ninety-nine.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In the Futurama episode 'Leela's Homeworld', Hermes tells the Professor that disposing of his toxic waste will cost him 500 dollars (he would also overlook it for a bribe... of 500 dollars). Bender counters the offer by saying he'll take care of it for 499 dollars and 100 cents, to which the Professor agrees because of the convenience.
    • To be fair to the Prof, he did identify that it was the same number.
  • The Simpsons:
  • Hey Arnold!: A high-end electric piano is on sale for $499.95, and the grand prize in the talent show is $500. Gerald points out "If you win, you could buy near gear and still have money left over!"
  • ReBoot once had Mike pitch a Bucket of Nothing, among other things, as being "Free! for only ninety-nine ninety-nine ninety-nine!"
    • "Amuse your friends! Confuse your enemies! Annoy total strangers!"
    • "It's absolutely nothing!"
    • bucket not included
    • More generally "NINETY-NINE NINETY-NINE NINETY-NINE!!!''" is Mike's catchphrase during his first few episodes. On his first appearance he utters it twice in a minute.
  • A non-financial example appears in Garfield and Friends, where Wade, after ripping the a tag off the bottom of a couch and learning that it's against the law, imagines himself being sentenced to "9,999 years in prison". Wade is relieved: "At least I didn't get life."
  • The Looney Tunes cartoon "The Ducksters" had Daffy Duck as the host of a radio quiz game with Porky Pig as the woebegone contestant. After much verbal and physical humiliation, Porky is awarded the show's prize—$26,000,000.03. He decides to buy the station and exact revenge on Daffy, he was initially surprised it cost him that exact amount.
  • Taken to its logical extreme in WALL•E: a brief shot shows the titular character treading over some discarded 99-dollar bills bearing the BnL logo. It can be assumed that Buy n Large must have started printing them after taking over the government, so they could keep fulfilling this trope while eliminating the need to give change back.
  • The Powerpuff Girls (1998): In "Collect Her", Lenny pays $17.99 for one of the items he bought for his collection.

Examples in Real Life

  • In Japan, most prices end with 80. As in, it's not 1,000 yen, it's 980. (That's about $10 US if you're wondering.) This is probably because the number 8 is considered lucky in Japanese culture, while 9 and 4 are considered unlucky. The reason it's not 88 yen is that 1 yen coins seem to be considered an inconvenient hassle, and many vending machines won't even accept them.
  • Taiwan also has many prices ending in 8, and the occasional 80 or even 88, also most likely because 8 is lucky in Taiwan as well.
  • Subverted in Malaysia, where they round off anything to the nearest 5 cents. Granted, you pay more if the price has .01,.02,.06, or .07 sen in them. It's due to convenience, and the government wants to save the cost of producing 1 sen coins.
    • There are still plenty of 99 cents prices around. Rounding only occurs when paying the total bill by cash.
  • Home shopping networks in the Philippines would sell any item at a five or four-figure price that always ends with 995.
  • Used to be relatively uncommon, but far from unheard of in Israel. The local equivalent of a one cent coin has been phased out in 1991, followed by the 5 cent in 2007note , partly because such a low value coin is considered more of a hassle then anything else, and partly because those coins cost more to stamp then their actual value. Instead, non flat values are simply rounded to the nearest tenth of a Shekel. Eventually, listing prices like this was outlawed.
  • Known as 'Bata Pricing' in India. The Name came from the Shoe Company Bata; which priced their shoes ending with 99p, or one rupee less than the full price.

  • The lowest denomination of currency in Australia is 5 cents, ever since the 1 and 2 cent coins were abolished in 1990.note  You'd think this would stop places from advertising with this trope, but you'd be wrong (although ninety five cents is more common).
    • EB Games in Australia actually uses the various prices to sort how items are discounted during sales. If it ends with, for example, 84, then it'll be 25% off.
    • An experiment conducted at an Australian restaurant suggests that this pricing trick may actually be effective. After the price of a particular menu item was reduced by a single cent (all prices started at round X.00 figures) customers became 15% more likely to order said item. When everything else was reduced to X.99 to match, the distribution of orders returned to roughly the same as before.
    • With things like cars, the usual variation is $x9990.
  • In New Zealand since 2006, the smallest coin has been the 10 cent. Prices ending in .90 are the most common, but there still are .97, .98 and .99 prices out there.
    • It is rare to see a price ending in .95 - there is no fixed rule on whether to round up to .00 or down to .90, although most retailers round down.
    • Rounding only takes place on the total amount at the end, and only if you are one of the few people still paying with cash - three-quarters of face-to-face transactions in New Zealand are settled by EFTPOS (debit card), which as you can pay to the nearest cent, does not need rounding.

  • Some Euro countries have this subverted, by rounding the price to the nearest 5 cents from the result. They do it both because of tradition and because the 1c and 2c coins are tiny inconvenient little shits. The Netherlands took them out of circulation, two weeks after they were introduced. Finland never put them in circulation in the first place. Ireland began taking them out of circulation in 2015 after a trial run in Wexford determined that there was little point to them. They are still acceptable as money in those countries, but stores will often refuse to take them - many cash registers simply don't have a slot for them, so they are harder to handle.
    • Doesn't help that minting a 1 cent coin actually costs more than 1 cent.
  • In Denmark the smallest coin is 50 øre yet most prices still end in .95 or similar. The prices are usually added first and then rounded off in the end, so that the small parts may add up. The shop "Søstrene Grenes" has wacky prices such as 13.77 or 6.42 as a trademark. Amazingly enough they do not use barcodes but keep a staff that is incredibly fast in typing in the prices manually.
  • In Norway the smallest coin is the 50 øre. Prices often end on .90, and for cash purchases prices are rounded to the nearest whole or half krone. The 50 øre was finally taken out of circulation in 2012 after having basically served as the equivalent to a penny to Norwegians for the longest time (as in, it served no purpose in the economy).
  • Exception: the British music/video/games retailer Zavvi now prices most of its goods in pounds flat.
    • Also, another British music/video/games retailer, Fopp, used to deal in flat prices and adopted the practice before any of the other franchises did. Unfortunately, due to bankrupting and being bought by HMV, only 8 Fopp stores still exist. Zavvi has also gone into administration selling off a handful of stores to HMV.
    • With the temporary reduction of VAT to 15%, this has become worse — a fudge bar from EAT now costs £1.57, not £1.60.
    • As a point of interest, in PC World a price ending in .97 means that the item has been discontinued and is being sold at a clearance price, making it ineligible for further reductions such as staff discount.
    • The joke political party the Official Monster Raving Loony Party actually have the introduction of a 99p coin in their manifesto, to do away with fiddly pennies in change.
  • Supermarket chain Asda in the UK tend to have prices ending in .97, which may have something to do with their constant claims of being cheaper than competitors
  • Whilst duty free stores at UK airports do not require tax on their items, the prices are frequently inflated far beyond what they cost on the high street or online. They will often imply that the item is cheaper by giving a comparison price with tax added. The reason for this scam's success is that people wait to buy something until they go to an airport because they think it will be cheaper, but isn't, so cave in and pay the higher prices. This is especially notable with electronic items, and interestingly, the practice is not dying out with the internet as it might appear it would.
  • UK eBay seller eStocks/Music Magpie sells the majority of its CDs for £1.27, and whilst it rarely goes below, it has many Buy 1 Get One Free offers on CD singles to counteract this.
  • The Iceland chain sells in flat prices (or at least at parts of it, say, 1.25 or 3.50).
  • In Finland, the smallest coin is 5 cents, but .99 prices are still used. When you buy something, the price is rounded up to the nearest five cents. So actually, you do pay one whole euro for your 99 cent purchase. But if you buy let's say four of those things, the number ending with six is rounded down. Still, the most you can save by this is five cents, so... Nicely trying to deceive the customers here. One has to wonder what the point is of having a single currency if some countries opt out of using some of the denominations.
    • You can't opt out: any euro coin is valid in every country using the euro. However, you can make it legal to round everything to the nearest 5 cents, so you don't need them in your register and they drop from circulation. If you're now thinking "excellent, I'll pay for everything using loads of 1 cent coins from now on", remember this: "no party shall be obliged to accept more than 50 coins in any single payment". (it's the law) So unfortunately, your Evil Plan to pay for your parking ticket using thousands of 1 cent coins is foiled.
    • The same rounding is done with cash purchases in Australia where the smallest coin is also 5 cents. However, the exact price is charged when paying by credit or debit card, so you could "game" the system and come out ahead by a couple of cents on every purchase.
    • This rounding is really helping right now as VAT for food was reduced lowering the prices by a little over 4%.
    • And you're still buying in multiples of four, instead of three or two or even one item at a time, however many you actually need.
  • In Switzerland, the lowest coin is 5 Rappen, but prices like 29.95 Fr. are rather rare. Now, Aldi, a German supermarket chain, expanded into Switzerland and introduced the .99 prices. Many people hate this with passion because you mostly get useless 5rp coins back and therefore boycott it. Aldi is cheaper than any other supermarket here, but because of that, almost no one uses it.
  • In Portugal all prices shown include tax, and while groceries etc are still priced .99ish, most small things at cafes such as a coffee or cake are in whole euros. It's probably to speed sales when the cafe is busy.
  • Once Poland redenominated their money to saner values in 1995, .99 PLN prices appeared. Mostly because "9900 PLZ" didn't have that ring to it.
  • In Hungary, 1 and 2 forint coins are no longer in use, however prices don't have to be rounded to 5 forints, and so prices ending in 99 are common. The rounding is done to the final bill if you pay by cash. However, many high-profile stores won't do the rounding if you pay by card. This means it's possible to choose the payment method to your advantage. Unfortunately you can't make a living by saving 1 or 2 forints on every purchase.
  • The GameStop shops in Italy subvert this: while all the prices end with .98, you can choose to donate your two cents change to the charity they are currently sponsoring.
  • Sainsbury's in the UK allow customers to round up their bill to the next pound (or to any higher whole pound value they choose), with the difference going to charity.
  • In the former Czechoslovakia Tomáš Baťa's shoe company has become so famous for this that "Baťa's prices" has become a synonym for this kind of pricing.
  • Sweden has prices ending in many different decimals, but the most common one is X.90 SEK, but as of 30 September 2010 the centismal subdivision of SEK, öre, is only legal tender on cards, if you pay with cash the price will always be rounded. Video Games in general have prices in the format of multiple of fifty minus one or occasionally five such as 399 or 549.
    • Swedish Kronor's equivalent of a cent, the öre, was so rarely used that its coins were all phased out, with only the 50 öre piece remaining by the 2000s, until it finally stopped being legal tender in September 2010. However, most things in Sweden cost at least 10 kronor, and tend to not include any ore in the prices anyway.
  • Averted on American military installations in Europe. Due to the high cost of shipping coins overseas, pennies are not imported. Prices are rounded to the nearest nickel at the register.
  • Poundland (everything for £1) once had a (somewhat) cheaper rival in The 99p Store. This has been averted by Poundland buying out their rival. Poundland sometimes has clearance items discounted to 50p.
  • Germany has these everywhere as well. Now Germany does have 1 and 2 Cent pieces due to using the Euro (and had 1 and 2 Pfennig coins before under the Deutsche Mark, and at some point even a 4 Pfennig coin), but if you do a lot of shopping in Germany and pay in cash, you'll almost inevitably end up with a lot of the small things. Some banks wisened up to this and introduced machines which you can fill with these coins, and the total will be automatically added to your bank account.
  • Big Russian chains went ahead and disregarded kopeks (1 ruble is 100 kopeks) completely in total prices for cash payments - for a total price of 199 rubles and 99 kopeks cashier would take 199 rubles in cash no problem. Now why would they do that? First of all, cashless transasctions in Russia have already overtaken cash payments in quantity, so it won't hurt the bottom line that much since most of their payments are in full. Second, they are doing it from total price, not every item's price. So if you buy two items worth 12.50 each, you'll be paying 29 rubles any way. But that gesture gave them bragging rights, so in all advertisements stores are proclaiming how they are always on customers' side by rounding down kopeks (with obligatory fine print). In the end customers are now overlooking kopeks in price tags, which probably was the actual goal all along.
  • In Italy, especially the southern parts of the country, it was customary to replace small amounts of change with small items. For example, if you bought something worth 380 lire and paid with a 1000 lire bill, your change would more likely than not come out to 500 lire, a payphone token and two hard candies. The introduction of the euro and ever-tightening laws intended to stop money-laundering have put an end to this practice, however.

    North America 
  • The total cost of the raw material used to construct the first American flag was $405.90.
  • At least one chain of stores in Pennsylvania ends all prices in wacky numbers like .88 — but the reason is so that, after the 6% sales tax is added, the prices come out to even dollars.
  • Walmart corporate policy states that stores cannot set their prices to end in 9, 5, or 0, partially because of this trope.
    • Wal-Mart, at least in Canada, also uses the "change the cents to indicate a sale": There's actually a particular number that indicates "this product will not be rolled back any more".
      • They also change the cent ending to note that an item is not eligible for a storewide sale. Usually it's .97.
    • Wal-Mart is known to discount a product from, for example, 39.99 to 39.98, with a large sign indicating the "savings".
  • Gets annoying on the US Playstation Store. Items are priced ending in .99 or occasionally .97, but you can only add whole-dollar amounts to your PSN wallet. This leaves your wallet full of non-refundable virtual pennies that can't actually be used.
    • You can totally avert this on the Playstation Store by making a purchase and adding only the necessary amount there. If an item costs 12.99 and you had .07 in the store, you added only 12.92.
    • The iTunes Store (if you use the iTunes cards) and Xbox Live Marketplace have the same problem (say I have 190 Microsoft Points left over, and the DLC I want is 1,200 MSP. Normally, I would buy the 1,000 MSP, but I'd have 10 MSP under the limit. The smallest bundle of MSP available is the 500 points one. That would leave me with 490 MSP left over, and the cycle begins again).
      • The iTunes Store charges everything ending in either $.90 or 9. One track typically cost $.99, though now it can be $.89 or $1.09. An album might cost $9.90. And a whole 75-track iTunes Essentials set costs exactly $74.25.
    • The Nintendo 3DS's eShop dropped the points system for money, so all DSiWare games where changed in favor of the new system (a DSiWare game for 800 points will cost $7.99 on the eShop). Since the eShop adds tax to the frame, games that could fit for 2000 points won't for a $20 card, unless you live in a tax-free area like Delaware. On the plus side, if you don't have enough funds saved on the eShop and go to add them, there's an option to just add what you need to buy whatever you're buying, so you don't have to deal with leftover cents.
    • The Steam store and community market also have this problem by way of the Steam Wallet - prices in the store almost always end at one cent below a multiple of 25, but you can only add money to said wallet at five, ten, twenty-five, fifty, or a hundred bucks at a time, meaning it's likely for one to add money to the wallet for a big sale and end up with a few cents left over they can't do anything with. An aversion comes from the fact that, for store purchases, you can combine what's left in your wallet with a different payment method to clear that out and save a tiny bit of money from the other method - but that adds a new annoyance if you buy from/sell to the community market often, since it deals solely in Steam wallet funds, but the store defaults to paying with said wallet if you have any money in it.
  • For the record, the sales tax rates in the United States can be found here
  • Mexico has an interesting play on this. The smallest legal coin is the 10 cents coin, and thus, in theory, prices are rounded to the nearest multiple of 10 cents... but, most convenience stores and supermarkets run a price rounding program, where they round up the final price to the next peso if your ticket has at least 50 cents, then they account for all the multi-million cents they snagged in the massive round-up, stash then in a bank account, donate them to charity, and at the same time they get free tax breaks!
  • 99 Cents Only stores in Southern California and a few other places run on this trope. Every price (before tax) will end in a 9 and the most expensive items they sell will cost $99.99. The company also celebrates the 99th birthday of public figures and names 99 year old individuals as honorary spokespersons. Lastly, they say they're open 9 days a week, one store held a wedding on 09/09/2009 costing 99 cents, and their trucks say that, instead of no cash, the driver only has 99 cents.
  • Doubly Subverted in Century Theatres. Concessions sell snacks that usually only have a multiple of 25 cents (and most people have a few extra quarters in their pockets). These prices however, already calculate sales tax. The "real" cost of a large popcorn isn't $6.50, but around $5.96 with 9% tax.
  • offers free shipping on orders $35 or over (add or subtract ten dollars depending on the seller). It does not on orders of 34.99, leading to customers buying 9 cent washers to push it over 35.
    • This is why Amazon has introduced Add-on Products, which are, basically, small-value items that can't be purchased on their own (i.e. you have to buy a regular item with it), and the goal is to help push the price over the $35 free-shipping threshold.
  • Sort of a subversion: In New York, there is no sales tax on items of clothing that cost less than $110. At prices of $110 or more, the tax is charged on the entire amount. At least one New York City shoe store has a lot of items at $109.99. So, if the pair of sandals was listed at one cent more, you'd actually pay about another ten dollars, to the state.
  • In the United States, many slot machines will pay out $1199 where they would normally pay out $1200 in winnings. This is because a win of $1200 or more will require both the person and the casino they played at to report their winnings to the IRS, which is more than a little inconvenient and time-consuming for everyone due to the paperwork involved.
  • The LEGO catalog was an aversion for a while, with the prices of the more expensive sets always being an even number of dollars, often with repeating digits like "$22.00" or "88.00". After they changed their policy to always include the price of shipping, nearly everything ended in 99 cents.
  • Department store J.C. Penney announced in 2012 that they would be discontinuing prices ending in 9 or 7 and listing prices in whole dollars whenever possible. They also stopped the common retail practice of listing items as being "on sale" for X percent off an imaginary, inflated price. The result: So many people stopped shopping there that the chain nearly went bankrupt.
  • Nintendo prominently advertised the Super Scope 6, a Light Gun for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, as "under sixty dollars." The MSRP was $59.99.
  • Gas stations in the USA have a habit of going one step further and marking prices to the nearest tenth of a cent, ie, $2.999. This despite there no longer being a unit of US currency worth less than a cent (they did exist at one time). This is not much of an issue, because a) every station does it, and b) people buying gasoline either fill the tank regardless of the gallon amount, or fill the tank till the price hits a round number ... nobody who doesn't have some kind of psychological problem really cares whether the amount of gas they buy is an integer number of gallons or not.
  • The WWE Network's subscription fee is $9.99 per month.

    South America 
  • Brazil has fairly random pricing for things, with the exception of certain specific cheap-goods stores. Most people would leave without claiming the 1 centavo coin they're entitled tonote  in order to avoid being branded as The Scrooge. An alternative would be paying with a debit card.
  • In Chile in any supermarket or store, every product will end with 9. For example a chocolate bar might cost 799 Pesos. Sometimes is common to see with 49 with smaller products. And with more expensive products wil be with 990. This is mostly for taxes. But that also brought the problem with the "1 peso" Coin, in supermarkets they insist if you will donate that peso or more to charity just to round up your change. And the fact that no one can buy anything with "1 peso" coins anywhere. In most places they reject those coins saying that those have any value at all.
  • In Argentina, the 1 centavo coin was withdrawn from circulation after 2001, and most prices (which include taxes in the sticker price) end in either a 5 or a 0, but you'll occasionally come across something which costs 3.89 or 4.97. By law, retailers are supposed to round down to the customer's advantage, but they tend to round up instead (or offer a 5c candy at kiosks) to make up the difference. Hey, at least you're getting candy...

  • In South Africa, many items are priced ending with 99c, which is odd, because the lowest monetary denomination is 5c. Stranger still, when purchasing them, the number is almost always rounded down to 95c, resulting in the change being a 5c piece which is regarded with almost universal ire.

  • One way for a business — especially a restaurant — to appear "classy" without much extra effort is to simply avert this. It's generally accepted wisdom in the restaurant world that listing your menu price as just a number — without even a currency sign — makes you look "more refined", as if you don't care about people thinking that you're more expensive.
  • This trope sometimes crops up in things other than money. One website about the MP3 file format pointed out that, since a typical MP3 file is at least 4Mb unless unusually short or unusually low-quality or both, a few hundred bytes of tag data isn't going to make a significant difference to the size.
  • This is taken to the extreme with gasoline/petrol in the United States. Starting back in The '30s, the United States began charging a 9/10 cent tax on gasoline. That was back when it cost pennies per gallon. Since then, gas prices—and the taxes associated with them—have increased significantly. But the 9/10 cent at the end of the price remains everywhere in the US. Marketplace estimates that the extra 9/10 cent costs Americans over $500 million per year as of 2018.


Video Example(s):


Bucket O Nothing

Surprise your friends! Amaze your family! Annoy perfect strangers! (It's absolutely nothing.)

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / KitschyLocalCommercial

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