/ Food & Drink, Shopping

Misleading unit prices on Tesco’s website

Looking at the unit price of two different-sized items is helpful to work out which is cheapest, but it’s not so useful if those prices are wrong. That’s what has happened for a number of products on Tesco’s website.

We checked the price per kilo, per 100g or per 100ml on 127 products on the Tesco website – looking at types of foods where errors have been spotted in the past. We found a quarter were wrong. In some of those cases, trying to buy the ‘cheaper’ product according to the unit prices displayed would have led to you actually buying a more expensive item.

In some cases, products were listed as cheaper than they actually were. A 150g punnet of Tesco Finest Raspberries costing £3 was priced at £15/kg, but the actual cost was £20/kg. A 125g punnet of Tesco Organic Raspberries for £2.50 was displayed as costing £16.67/kg, instead of the correct price of £20/kg.

Strawberries were a baffling case – of two 400g punnets, the cheaper one was listed as having a higher unit price. 400g of Tesco British Strawberries costs £2, so is clearly pricier than 400g of Tesco Everyday Value Strawberries costing £1.75, but the former was listed at £5.72/kg and the latter at £5.84/kg. The correct unit prices were £5/kg and £4.38/kg, respectively.

We also found incorrect unit prices on cereals, mayonnaise and tinned fish.

Tesco must fix errors

We asked Tesco why there were so many errors, and how it calculated the unit prices on its website. It said:

‘We’re urgently addressing these technical issues and would like to reassure customers that no one would have been charged more than the item price for any product they’ve bought on tesco.com.’

Though supermarkets have committed to making unit pricing clearer, there’s no excuse for unit prices being completely wrong. We’ll be checking back to make sure that Tesco corrects these errors – and will take further action on this issue if they don’t.

Have you noticed incorrect unit prices on Tesco’s, or any other shop’s, website?


Pack of 4*38g tubes of smarties £1.49 unit price 98p per 100g

A single tube of 38g smarties 60p unit price 60p per pack

I should also point out that the 4*38g description is mine the Tesco website is listing it as pack of 4 (152g). Multipacks don’t always have the same size in them as single items, but in this case it seems they do.

Ken W says:
5 July 2014

Quaker Oat So Simple Original Porridge 18 X 27G… £2.99
Quaker Oat So Simple Original Porridge 324G… 2 for £4.00 (Special Offer)


Princess Tuna chunks in various liquids 160g tin each £1.00 unit price showing as 89p apart from the tomato sauce tin still listed as the same price / weight but with the correct unit price of 62.5p ( well they’ve rounded it to 63p)

Seems like if its not tomato sauce they’ve used the drained weight of 112g

Tesco say “we would like to reassure customers that no one would have been charged more than the item price for any product they’ve bought on tesco.com”

That’s as maybe but what will they be doing for people who bought a more expensive item per unit of measure because it incorrectly showed a lower unit price? And as usual Tesco have missed the point.

Andrew says:
14 July 2014

Tesco don’t only quote misleading unit prices online, they do it in their stores as well.

In Nov 2012 I wrote to their Customer Services Department about one such error (with pictures), Someone wrote back assuring me the product weighed three times what I figured it weighed. I advised my correspondent to enter a store and pick up the item and weigh it herself, rather than rely on the incorrect information provided by her Business Support Team. Instead of her doing this (you wonder whether Tesco staff actually shop in Tesco) I was told this would be escalated it to the Marketing Department but that I would not be told of any outcome. Indeed, I heard nothing after that brush-off.

Five months later there had been no change, so I contacted the Trading Standards Service of the local council. Within two days, they had gone into the store, weighed the product, confirmed my calculations, and written to me saying they would be passing the information onto the Hertfordshire Trading Standards Service (Tesco’s Primary Authority) and would be dealing with the issue of potential offences that may have occurred under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

Tesco corrected their pricing after that – about six months after I had alerted them to their mistake.

I still shop at Tesco, by the way. I just take their unit pricing with a pinch of salt.

@andrew, Do you think this could be another example of they’d sold a product at one weight then for whatever reason the weight was reduced, i.e. the product shrunk and no one picked up on it?


Andrew says:
16 July 2014

No, I don’t think so, they were out by a factor of three. Perhaps someone back at base had got confused by a three-for-the-price-of-whatever offer they were running.

The Tesco problem with unit prices online is only a reflection of what has been happening on the physical shelves for years. Sometimes a quick mental calculation indicates that it is the retention of a figure from before a change in pack size but often it just shows that the HQ staff just cannot do sums! On one occasion there was a 1kg pack of parsnips priced at £1.00 and a unit price of £1.30 per kilo! From talking to staff in my local store, it is not that they don’t notice but that their feedback to HQ is ignored and local staff cannot print corrected labels – the system allows them to print only the authorised incorrect one and they are forbidden to alter them manually.
Another thing which needs watching is that even in the absence of special offers the pricing of different sized packs of the same thing can be illogical and as the cheapest can be any one of the sizes on the shelf, it is important not to assume that the largest pack will be the cheapest. I’ve found this problem on anything from Horlicks to toilet rolls and the saving can be more than just pence. On Horlicks a “refill” pack (400g in a plastic bag) is often the most expensive way of buying it, as it is often priced at only a few pence less than a 500g canister. The only safe motto is “Caveat emptor”!
Why do I still shop there? -the alternative to find a large supermarket with a wide range is to add about 10 miles to my round trip.

I did our weekly shop at Tesco Extra today and when I got home I saw, belatedly, that the two Mattesons u-ring smoked sausages which had been displayed on an end of row display at £1.00 each, had been charged at £2.35 each. A massive rip-off and something that Tescos are very good at doing. I am returning to the shop when convenient, to take a photo as evidence if the evidence is still there. No doubt they will always have an excuse but isn’t it peculiar that their “mistakes” are always in their favour, not their customers. It is stuff like this that makes me hate Tescos and shop elsewhere. Bring on more competition and let’s watch Tescos profits slide.

I have lost count of the number of times that that has happened to me Steve. It is a favourite trick of theirs.

Maltesers bag were 135g now 121g yet the unit pricing is still based on the 135g size, so it’s WRONG

Twix Mix bag were 140g now 126g yet the unit pricing is still based on the 140g size, so it’s WRONG.

These were spotted 9th August, so it doesn’t look like Tesco are urgently looking at the “technical” issues.

Tesco put different sizes of toilet rolls of the same brand in different places hoping you won’t notice their pricing.

Cushelle Toilet Rolls
9 pack 30p per 100 sheets £4.85
4 pack 28.8 per 100 sheets £2.00

Must be how they get their money back when they give vouchers for the product thinking most people will buy the 9-pack to make the most of their vouchers.

Hoist by their own petard. Tesco’s £250 million profit shortfall is allegedly the result of corrupted business practices, according to the Telegraph:


Don’t say we didn’t warn you, Tesco!

I may have gone off road but I experienced a further example of Tesco’s ineptitude when I used a store receipt to get my discount off fuel when filling up at one of their outlets. The receipt stated that my savings were 5p off every litre but was told that the discount was only in 2p increments and I therefore only qualified for 4p off.
Bemused, I rang the relevant Tesco department and I was told that the 5p figure indicated that I was on my way to the higher discount of 6p but by how much would mean me totting up previous receipts to find how much more I needed to buy to reach the £50 qualifying amount.
Confused? I certainly was and the Tesco advisor apologised for the complexity of the offer and said I was not the only one who had questioned this misleading information on receipts. I afterwards read the T& C on their website where the offer needed the longest paragraph I have ever seen to explain the process.
Next to get to grips with the seasonal minefield of points, coupons and voucher ‘benefits’ which we lucky Clubcard members qualify for and which require a IQ of at least 140.
I wonder if the person responsible for all these surreal concepts is among those who have recently been asked to resign?

Frances Clarke says:
4 March 2015

I order fairly regularly from Tesco online and over the years have occasionally had a pricing policy issue with the price quoted in the online store not being held when the food has been delivered. However, the bizarrest situation happened a week ago when my online order was as follows;
2 Tesco Courgettes Loose £0.50 £1.00
1 Tesco Charlotte Potatoes 1Kg £1.00 £1.00
2 Tesco Low Calorie Indian Tonic Water With Lemon 1Ltr £0.45 £0.90
4 Tesco Everyday Value Unsweetened Soya Drink 1 Litre £0.65 £2.60
2 Tesco Meat Free Vegetarian Mince 454G £1.75 £3.50
1 Counter Salmon Side £10.00 £10.00
3 Tesco Everyday Value Noodles Spice Curry Flavoured 70G £0.35 £1.05
1 Tesco Boneless Sea Bass Fillets £5.76 £5.76
1 Tesco Everyday Value Bananas Min 8 Pack £1.15 £1.15
2 Tesco Aubergine Each £0.75 £1.50
1 Yutaka Tofu 349G £1.59 £1.59
1 Tesco Everyday Value Italian Style Hard Cheese 200G £2.30 £2.30
2 Tesco Meat Free Meat Style Balls 400G £1.75 £3.50
1 Tesco Everyday Value Closed Cup Mushrooms 350G £0.79 £0.79
2 Tesco Meat Free Beef Style Strips 300G £1.75 £3.50
1 Tesco Meat Free Thai Green Curry 1Kg £3.00 £3.00
1 Linda Mccartney 2 Vegetarian Deep Dish Country Pies 380G £2.00 £2.00
Total: £46.59 and no substitutions requested.
Upon delivery, when I looked at the bill presented with the food, and started to unpack, I had been charged £19.30 for salmon which should have cost £10, and £1.53 for courgettes which should have been £1.00 or thereabouts as loose, but was charged £1.53.
I rang Tescos and have received a refund for the difference on the salmon, but not for the courgettes as yet, but this was a £10 overcharge on an account which should have cost £46.59!!
Also, with my previous order to this one, I ordered some sea bass but it wasn’t delivered. I did get a refund, after I brought it to their attention, but essentially Tescos, this is nothing short of theft in my opinion and countless others are probably being ripped off as well.

Joe Godfrey says:
21 August 2015

I notified Tesco that loose bananas were displayed at 12p on 26-July-2015 however they were 12.25p and an adviser said they would give me a £1 voucher, still to receive.So later in the month I have another camp for Scouts and the price still chops of the fractions and no change other than perhaps today, 20/8/15 they may have tweaked the price to 12.23p, why can I tell? because I have another scout camp and my spreadsheet does not add up, bunch of plonkers. I recall a person or more who scamed companys for lots by taking pennys in each small transaction. Tesco phone staff were oblivious to this kind of crime.

Since then I have found red onions at 18p but they are NOT since ~£0.1775 seems to be what they are actually being sold at on their website, why not display that, it only requires two other digits and they are being honest

Ok now really wasting my time Carrots loose 8p each, hmm no probably 7.75p each?

This has wasted my time at £80ph and I will send a bill to Tesco.

They now seemed to have adjusted the loose bananas to £0.1223 but they are not answering the phone now…

I still have a few hours of completing my basket and will be annoyed be persistent messages about keeping my slot which I booked, again £80ph will be invoiced which is good value.

It pays to Be Prepared.

Joe, I think you’re worth more than £80 an hour – £80.027 would be more appropriate. I think, judging by Which?’s lack of confidence in British people’s ability to do maths, pricing something to four decimal places would defeat them. Presumable the bananas, carrots and onions are all slightly different sizes, so some would be better value than others. And you can’t pick out the biggest ones on the website like you could in the shop. It’s a tough life. Do you still make Modge at camp?

Let’s not get obsessive-compulsive about 0.0001p errors which will understandably lead to the shutters going down on communications with supermarkets. I dislike the .99p psychology that permeates the retail industry and I always round up the price in my mind. Keeping pricing clear and plain is the way forward to avoiding misleading customers and creating trust.

Jessica says:
14 November 2015

I just compared Tesco online prices of own brand oranges (1.50 per bag) and Jaffa oranges on sale (1.85, two bags for 2.50). The unit price given for the Jaffa oranges is based on the sale price, not on the unit price for oranges in a single bag.

The choice of units matters. 100 gram or 100 ml pricing can often be rounded to only 1 decimal place, then when it is multiplied up to the kg or Litre any rounding down is multiplied by 10 thus causing an overcharge.
If I buy say a 10 litre pack of coke and the item price per 100ml had been rounded down by 0.049p per 100ml which is = 0.49p /Litre, then that rounding down is multiplied by the pack volume to almost 5p overcharge.
That is not a significant overcharge per customer, but it may become a significant fraud if considered over the total volume sold in uk.

It is time there was an industry standard of ml or gram.

Tomato ketchup and mayonnaise are sold in both units of measurements so you can’t compare them.

In most cases grams (g) and millilitres (ml) will be nearly interchangeable if the product has a high water content. Vegetable oils and anything with a high oil content (e.g. mayonnaise and other dressings) will differ because oil has a lower density than water.

I think it would make sense to sell everything by weight, so the units are grams (g) and kilograms (kg = 1000 g).

I’d still prefer to buy a litre of milk. It seems to me that solids should be sold by weight, liquids by volume. The difficulty for some might come with those in between, like Alfa’s mayonnaise; put both g and ml on perhaps. Personally I’ve never had a problem with this.

The small bottles of milk contain a pint. I think that is an ancient legislative requirement.

Careful John, or you might reignite the entertaining imperial vs. metric debate 🙂 . I still like pints, miles, and some others in appropriate circumstances.It is interesting to see that Which?, along with many others, still quote car fuel efficiency in miles per gallon. I like that.

Well we still measure road distances in miles and yards [with metric in brackets on some signs like Low Bridge] and once you know that half a litre is a wee bit less than a pint it all makes sense. I think we keep these measurements to foil an invading enemy.

Now that they’ve abolished the Eleven Plus, with its focus on mensuration in the arithmetic paper, I see no justification for these inconsistencies and there should be an international salad dressing and tomato ketchup standard, [differential product density will always outwit the standardisers though irrespective of whether its ml or mg.]

I would like fuel economy in km per kg.

Diesel would not fair so good Wave…….You have a diesel have you not

Its actually a fair idea and much fairer than the mpg or L per 100km

Some products can be sold by volume, but everything can be sold by weight. I have no problem with both units being shown, though it could continue to cause confusion.

When I am baking I don’t measure liquids but put the mixing bowl on the digital scales and pour in the right amount of milk or water. It saves washing up a measuring jug.

Would you want to buy 2.72 kg of milk, buy petrol at £1.43 / kg or emulsion paint by the kg – equivalent to around 0.77 l?

I would be delighted to buy milk, petrol and paint in kg quantities. Taking the example of milk we could have 0.5, 1, 2 and 3 kg bottles, etc as useful quantities for sale. At present, I buy milk in 1.136 litre quantities. 🙁

Obviously unit prices would be shown as the price per kg.

Indeed Wave,,,,,,,,,,,,,,I’d like fuel to be sold per kg
Our propane would look very expensive as its near to 2L per kg
Boy I would really love that
The LPG BB are getting away with murder by selling LPG/Propane at per litre rates…………They buy it per tonne and sell it per litre…….Hows that for a contradiction……….

Water is 1000g per litre
Cows milk around 1030g per litre
Emulsion paint would be slightly heavier than water as best I remember water lays on top of emulsion paint
Road diesel is around the low 800s per litre
Petrol is in the 700s somewhere
Hypochlorite red label the stuff we use for drives etc is around 1180g per litre
Battery acid is around 1200g per litre

Most things I buy are actually pretty close to a spec gravity around 1000g per litre…………I have no problem with weight versus volume…………..

We wont be getting shot of imperial any time soon as most places still use bsp and npt threads…………I am surprised at some hex heads being Whit………..
Personally I operate in both systems…………..
Small sizes suit mm……..Foot sizes suit feet,,,,,,,,,,,,Its all a bit of a mish mash……….If theres one defination I dislike it is cm……………I’d rather have 970mm as 9.7cm………I like mm and meters not those cm
Just personal preferences

Imagine the confusion, particularly among older people, if we changed from volume to weight for liquids. Change something we are all used to and it is a recipe for long-term opportunists to make money out of ignorance – as happened with metrication and decimalisation. why on earth change something that works.

Personal preferences DeeKay, I’m with you on that.

Why run the world to suit older people rather than young people who have been taught the metric system?

DK – I don’t think 970mm and 9.7cm are the same. And Tesco would like to inform you that they don’t stock hypochlorite red label and offer Johnnie Walker as a substitute. 🙂

To my knowledge, running the world for anyone has not been suggested at all. For personal use we can use whatever system of measurement we like. if I choose to be 6 ft 1 in, that’s up to me. Officially I will be 1.85(4)m. I have no problem with that either.
We must remember that some, maybe many, older people find it difficult to adapt to systems that are new to them, whether it is electronic ways of communicating, systems of weights and measures, or whatever, and need to respect this. Let us be as helpful as possible.

Older people can find it difficult to adapt to change but look how well many of them have adapted to computers and the internet, once mainly used in universities. I have heard people over 80 enthuse about their tablets, e-readers and smartphones and the chap who gave me a job in 1980 sent me his usual distinctive Christmas card – not as custom printed card but by email. He is 90. Can you imagine a world in which we reject progress because some would find it difficult to adapt? Those of us who can cope can – and I think should – help others make the transition. Of course we should be able to do what we want in our own homes.

Trying to get back to our topic… I recently unearthed a couple of receipts for groceries that I ordered online, more than ten years ago, for my mother who was living alone in the family home. She struggled to carry heavy groceries in her late 70s and in the written account of her life she was effusive about me being able to order via computer and have the groceries delivered to her home 125 miles away. I regret that I did not buy her a computer to give her the independence do the job herself. On each of the Tesco receipts were queries about the pricing and I remember having to make enquires.

I rarely have reason to question prices or unit prices in the local Tesco branch, so why is online pricing a problem?

Sorry Wave your right…………Getting my decimal whatsits all messed up……….You got the picture though

I know this thread started in 2014 but 4 years later, I am still experiencing very misleading unit pricing at my local store in Epping. I’ve written to Trading Standards and would urge anyone else with the same experience to do so as well.