I recently encountered a "24-hour sale" at a local department store.
The next day it had another "24-hour sale."
This in effect constituted a 48-hour sale, violating basic ground rules for 24-hour sales even during holiday periods.
I regularly visit another city that has a men's clothing store with a perpetual "Going Out of Business Sale" sign in its window and the same inducement offered in advertisements. By my reckoning, it has been going out of business for five years. This at least constitutes a slow and lingering death.
I've come across a number of "Factory Outlet" stores that, rather than offering discounted items from their regular stores, sell lower-grade merchandise made expressly for the discount mall.
So when General Motors Corp. announced its new "Red Tag Event" incentives of zero-percent financing for 60 months on some 2007 models along with discounts on many 2008 models, it was in line with the urgent national need for special sale after special sale. After all, Chrysler LLC had already introduced its "Event of a Lifetime" cash rebates and financing deals.
We live in a world so accustomed to special deals that consumers won't budge without them. Non-sale periods produce desolate inactivity.
From time to time car dealers swear off rebates and special financing. Airlines vow no more fare wars. Then inevitably a competitor cracks and we're off to the races again.
I'm as much in favor of saving money as anyone. But when businesses dramatically cut prices with mind-numbing regularity, it calls into question their normal prices. Wary shoppers suspect price padding.
Here's one all-out automotive competition that could prove healthier: The annual Los Angeles auto show in November was a battle of bragging rights over which carmaker can claim the most advanced "green" approach.
GM promised drivable prototypes of its electric plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt by the end of next year's first quarter. Utilizing hydrogen fuel cells, the Honda FCX vehicle will be leased to selected people next summer and the Toyota Highlander FCHV (fuel-cell vehicle) continues to move ahead in development.
With consumers weary of relentless offers to unload look-alike products, it will be nice to see car sales featuring product ingenuity outweigh sales gimmicks. But then again, we will still want to know how much these vehicles cost. If it is too much, despite the good intentions, rebates will be on their way.
Andrew Leckey is a Tribune Media Services columnist.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun