/ 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?


I advised Asda that some of their online grocery shopping unit prices were wrong. They replied apologising for the “spelling mistake”. A month later there will still incorrect unit prices on their website.

I advised Asda that some of their online grocery shopping unit prices were wrong. They replied apologising for the “spelling mistake”. A month later there were still incorrect unit prices on their website.

I’ve been on at Tesco for years about how poor their unit prices and pricing mistakes on special offers are.

It’s good to see they haven’t changed, NOT.

I haven’t checked jaffa cakes lately but when I last did 2 sizes were price per cake and one size per 100g. The odd thing being that Mcvites claim they’ve not sold by weight so where do Tesco get a weight from ? The ether?

They stock answer is “we have over 45,000 products the odd mistake here and there is to be expected” or the other one is “all prices are set by head office there’s nothing we can do”.

Both replies just highlight that lack of customer focus the store has. And that staff are too busy moving items around the store to pay attention to what matters.

And to think that for every price that’s displayed someone must have put the price on the shelf, are you telling me that they aren’t able to see these things. And with say over 1000 stores that’s over 1000 people who aren’t able to see the mistakes.

Good luck getting them to change.

Quite agree William. Some of the miscalculations are very easy to spot so you would think the staff would notice the error [well, at least some of the time]. The trouble with Tesco is their market dominance; so many people now have no effective choice of supermarket. I would suggest that with dominance comes responsibility and they deserve all the flack they get for their lack of care and attention to this detail.

The example you quote :”A 150g punnet of Tesco Finest Raspberries costing £3 was priced at £15/kg, but the actual cost was £20/kg”

I bet the problem is that the last time they were on sale the pummet size was 200g and someone forget to adjust the calculation to take into account the new smaller size?

I wonder how many other unit pricing mistakes will be because Tesco have reduced product sizes. Although that’s still no excuse.

Perhaps Tesco’s pricing irregularities are a distraction from something more sinister — they have sneaked a smaller diameter cardboard tube into their Luxury Soft own-brand toilet rolls! I made the mistake of buying a multi-pack of 9 only to find they would not fit my holder. I wonder if they tested them on their own-brand holder which they sell on Tesco Direct.

Sainsburys reduced their tube width two years ago but kindly marked the packaging to warn users.

If anyone from Andrex or Cushelle is reading this, please don’t ever change!

Usually, just considering diameter, the bigger the tube the fewer the sheets. However, for the ‘luxury’ or quilted tissues, a smaller diameter tube is required to carry a worthwhile number of individual sheets without making the whole roll too bulky to fit the holder or to fit between the holding bar and the wall. Toilet tissue width is a different issue and budget loo rolls – especially those sold in pound shops and other secondary retailers – often economise by having a narrower roll [as well as a bigger tube in most cases] so the cost-saving is deceptive. Personally, I regard Andrex as the brand standard and I judge all rivals against it in terms of sheet size, thickness and strength, tube and roll diameter, number of sheets per roll, absorbency performance, sheet perforation performance, and price. After a lifetime’s exhausting research and numerous unsatisfactory outcomes, I have yet to find a better product.

John, I have to take (t)issue with you regarding the reasons for smaller tube sizes. Tesco states in its website description that it reduces the cost of transporting the product and proffers no advantages for the user. Indeed. the thickness of the Tesco roll has shrunk in proportion to the new tube size so its ‘Luxury’ does not infer any extra cushioning or bulk.

However, I fully agree with you that Andrex sets the standard for quality and quantity, the Classic White proving to be much softer, more opaque and no thinner than Tesco’s Luxury Soft when comparing sheets laid side by side. It also meets all the requirements for width-to-wall space and fitting any holder as do other standard tube rolls, cushioned or otherwise.

To convince myself, I have just compared a roll of Andrex Classic White to the Tesco Luxury Soft and found that the latter has only 220 sheets (27.28m roll length) compared with Andrex’s 241 sheets (29.88m length). Admittedly, the Andrex is 6mm narrower but the total area of paper is still larger than that of its rival.

As ever, it’s down to price and practicality: if one prefers a cheaper, own-brand, toilet tissue then they should stick with it — and probably will.

Take a look at Aldi’s Saxon brand. Triple layers, Aloe Vera, £3.49 for 9 rolls, although it is 180 sheets per roll. It works out at 0.215p per sheet.

It feels better than any other toilet paper and is about the same price as most of the rest.

You have obviously have a degree in Business Studies, Stephen. Taking the same course, I took a look at the MySupermarket price comparison site and found that Waitrose have a special 2 for £7 offer on Andrex Classic White 9 roll packs. This equates to £3.50 /9 rolls/241 sheets = 0.16p per sheet.
Do you know if Aldi have followed Tesco and Sainsburys by reducing the tube diameter on their own-brand products? For me and many others, any savings made by buying cheaper paper would have to go towards buying a new holder, as I moaned about in my previous post.

David Thorpe says:
30 June 2014

Andrex toilet rolls were made narrower some time ago. At one time the roll would just fit into a wooden holder. Now it is comparatively easy to get a finger in beside the roll to push the spring fitting into the holder. I’d say they are around a centimetre narrower.

Hello Garth . . . I’m glad you’ve got to the bottom of this. I am not surprised that Tesco has economised on tube size solely for commercial reasons and not for customer satisfaction. I did preface my previous comment with “usually” because I was half-expecting this to be the case. As a trial for our downstairs cloakroom we bought a big pack of Tesco’s Luxury Soft rolls thinking that would be good enough for our guests and visitors at a lower cost. Although we did not invite feedback or receive any adverse reaction we have decided to withdraw this product because it makes us look like cheapskates and we have restored the full Andrex service. Thankfully this experiment was just a flash in the pan and I have been using the remainder of the rolls as wiping tissue in d-i-y jobs and for miscellaneous purposes. It is inferior despite its sophisticated name: it is coarser, is less absorbent, and doesn’t perforate cleanly.

It’s been a pleasure discussing this most important subject with you. I seem to remember Which? did do a toilet roll test but it was probably well over twenty years ago.

You don’t need to bother doing new tests, Matt — just copy and paste the above comments!

After discovering that the number of sheets on kitchen rolls is now less than it used to be – from 100 per roll down to 70 I now see that some shops are offering them with 50 sheets only. A sneaky way of raising prices ! I haven’t checked loo rolls but what’s the betting that they too are smaller in number of sheets?

I was wondering if someone from Which could get tesco to confirm whether these “technical” issues are as in the case of the raspberries ( I can still find 200g on the tesco website but not 150g) due to them shrinking the products and not adjusting the calculations for unit price to match the new smaller size.

Cos to me there’s nothing I can see that’s technical that could go wrong. It’s more likely human error and I know Tesco treats its staff like mindless automatons but technical error?

I have an easy fix for them that requires no work on their part, stop shirking products! Or is that too simple?

Martin Foster says:
25 June 2014

I recently bought some Tesco “Pork Steaks with Cider Gravy”. The unit price for the Cider is astronomical since, according to the list of ingredients, there isn’t any cider!
I have reported it to Trading Standards and got my money back from Tesco’s. Tesco do seem to be becoming very incompetent.

The law you’re getting into here, is in my experience an ass.

I took similar offence with an Apple and Blueberry porridge due to the very small quantities of both and felt that the name was misleading and that it should be porridge with apple and blueberry.

Here is part of the reply I got from TS …

Under food labelling law, historically, flavour identifiers in the name of a food (or other description) refer to “characterising flavours, so yes you could use “apple and blueberry” in the manner you describe, in particular if the fruit content is from an extract. This is particularly the case in soft drinks. (but the flavours would still need to be the main characteristic!)

If it were a pie and there was more to the “characterisation” than the flavour or aroma then I would expect to find propper apples and blueberry!

Lastly the letters ed make a surprising difference – an “apple and blueberry flavour drink” need have NO apple or blueberry in at all, but only the characterising flavours, but an “apple and blueberry flavoured drink” MUST contain flavours from the real thing

lastly lastly (yes I KNOW) if there are equal amounts of apple and blueberry, then the blueberry flavour will dominate and it should be “blueberry and apple”

They even agreed that if only one molecule was enough to give the flavour they’d be quite within their rights to use that 🙁

So as I said , the law is an ass.

This week I saw two different offers for Tesco 1 litre own brand tonic, bitter lemon and ginger ales- 3 for £1.20(40 pence each) and 4 for £1.50, (37.5 pence) on their website, I was told that the 3 for £1.20 was correct, but that I would be charged £1.50 for 4, I regularly notice mistakes like this on their site.

John says:
27 June 2014

I’ve been looking at dishwasher tablet prices on the Tesco website. There are usually a lot of half price offers, usually reflected in the stated price, but occasionally it is not and so the unit price is twice what it actually is and does not look like a good offer. Is it a coincidence that this often happens on the best (cheapest) offer I wonder.

Mike D says:
27 June 2014

In fact Tesco knows the weight of everything because it is needed for the self-checkout feature.

Includes packaging of course but it would be a good and easy check for the weight they use for unit pricing.

Tesco sell 2 sizes of sweetex. The 600 or the 1200. The unit price is per individual sweetener so you end up with either 0.2 or 0.3 per sweetener as at the present time. However when either are offer due to the very small unit and the rounding they use its quite often they’ll end up with the same unit price when clearly 2 packets of the 600 isn’t the same price as the 1200 depending on the offer.

You’d think they use something like per 100 sweeteners so it ends up like 24 or 31 per 100.

So they could improve there too.

A few years ago I used to contact Tesco frequently about mistakes like this, but the mistakes were never corrected. I gave up in the end.

Keith Gentle says:
29 June 2014

I recently saw in our local Tesco’s fruit squash priced at £3.99 per or 2 for £4.00. CRAZY!!

What is the correct price?

george from Bonnybridge says:
29 June 2014

Sports Direct is also misleading, with their shoe pricing. I bought shoes with the price showing on the box “30 % off” in large print with details showing the original price as “£44.99” in small print slashed to “£36.99” ( with the “6” also looking like a “5” at first glance). I bought them and only at home realised the inconsistancy: the reduction was only 17.8%, hardly 20% far less 30%! I took them back and eventually had ito speak to the shop manager before i got any progress. Intially he drew my attention to small print above the 30% stating “up to” which i had not noticed. I pointed out that 17% was hardly up to 30% (it was nearer 20%). Even that did not phase him. Indeed he said his company was on Watch Dog about their policies in the past and appeared to be complacent about the ussue. It was only when i pointed out that the lid obscured (only) the”upto” when in the closed that he accepted giving me back the missing £4.99. He also admitted that it was his company (HQ) which organised the placing of the dicount stickers obscuring the “up to”. I have size 13 feet and have bought from Sports Dirct for years – how much have I already lost? Now i think i will use the shop only to try on shoes and then buy them, probably more cheaply, on the internet!!!

I was going to say they’re known for that tactic and they will have been an upto somewhere around the 30%. I remember during the Woolworths closing down sales huge 70% off signs with a very small upto, I only managed to spot greetings cards with a 70% discount everything else was no more than 30% most between 10% & 20%

And yes they were on Watchdog a few weeks ago. But I guess as they’re not doing anything illegal there’s very little that can be done, other than boycott then. Sadly they’re are no good laws about being underhand. They’re probably not even breaching the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Practices 2008, although they probably are breaking the spirit of it. 🙁

R Whitworth says:
30 June 2014

When are Tesco going to wake up and stop trying to con customers.
A couple of years ago you could buy a pack of frozen salmon for under £5.
Then they put up the price to £10.
They then starting selling the same salmon at HALF PRICE £5 ?.
A few weeks ago the pack of salmon was back up to £10 (tucked away in the freezer cabinet).
Do they wonder that people having started shopping elsewhere.

ted t says:
9 July 2014

This is a practice that Tesco use a lot to con their customers,they frequently double the price then put it on “offer” at the usual price.better off shopping elsewhere.

Jan P says:
30 June 2014

At least a year ago I complained to Tesco about, in my opinion, misleading unit prices on a cake decoration. The unit price of the branded product (Dr Oetker Wafer Daisy) was £7.45 for 100g. Next to that item on the shelf was Tesco’s own version of the same thing but this time the unit price was £2.86 for just 10g. At a quick glance you would assume that the own brand version was cheaper but obviously this is not the case – for 100g the own-brand product would cost £28.60, almost four times as much. I was told by Tesco that they were reviewing unit prices but the website is still showing exactly the same misleading information a year later.

I like that you tried, but the simple truth is Tesco just don’t care. I’ve picked them up on what I would consider to be dodgy practices several times and each time I just get corporate male cow droppings back.

Sometimes I wonder if the people that enter the data are just bored and having a laugh at the customers expense the number and type of inconsistencies and mistakes you can find.

Maybe their CEO should be asked to do his own convo to explain their contempt for the customer.

Simon C says:
1 November 2014

Just in the last two weeks I found another such example in my local store. 183g Tesco Finest Coleslaw sat next on the shelf to 300g Tesco Coleslaw in a container of almost identical size and shape, and at a temptingly similar price (74p to 67p as I recall). Just to add to the misleading impression, the price per 100g on the Finest Coleslaw label was given as 18p per 100g, cheaper than the alternative and less than half the true price per 100g.

Naturally the staff say they can do nothing about it, and the labels are still the same two weeks after first bringing it to their attention.

Alan says:
30 June 2014

Strange unit price on some potatoes in Asda (Arnold, Nottingham) last Friday. 1.5Kg priced at £2. Unit price of £1/Kg. Summat wrong there… Told an assistant, who appeared to be more senior, and left him to look into it. Will check next time I visit.

I am really annoyed at Sainsbury’s as I bought 3 bottles of fizzy drinks in their 3 for £3 offer, and found that I had been charged £5.69 when I got home. A few days later my husband was in the store and saw that the same offer was in the same display on the end shelves, so he spoke to customer services. They went to the relevant shelves and after a while they explained that there were two identical offers on fizzy drinks and I had taken bottles from separate offers so I could not have any refund. I am a pensioner and would never have paid £5.69 for 3 bottles of fizzy drink. I had only wanted one bottle for my family visiting, but thought I would take advantage of this ‘special offer’. It was far from clear that it was not one offer, but two, and why have them on the same shelves together? Of course we are all going to be caught out, and lots of people won’t notice, so they make a good profit.

Jan P says:
1 July 2014

I have also been caught out by similar tactics in all the major supermarkets, despite considering myself a canny shopper. I think this is one possible reason for the increased popularity of budget supermarkets such as Aldi – they simply don’t do special offers of that type nor do they offer Buy One Get One Free. They just offer low prices for good quality products.

dan says:
3 July 2014

Another tesco one. Sunny raisins, the 8 pack is one pound and is quoted as 8.93 per kilo which is correct. The 14 pack is 1 pound 89p but is quoted as 7.50 per kilo when it should be 9.64 per kilo. Anyone looking at their site would choose the least value option because they are misleading people.
I reported it twice but no change. I think the site should be shut down if they consistently mislead customers over price, I’m sure they would get their act in order then.

The image of the Sunny Raisins on the Tesco website gives the game away, it used to be 18 packets of 14g and is no only 14 packets.

They do seem rather incompetent .

Funnily enough mysupermarket is listing the correct unit prices.